I thought I had already written about my homemade solar wax melter. But as I responded to a question on beesource, I did a search of my blog and realized I hadn’t! So I perused my list of posts and found this one under “draft”. See? I knew I MEANT to post about it…
You can buy a solar wax melter and it will cost you anywhere from $60 to over $100, it will be fancy and bulky and you will have to find a place to keep it! Mine cost about $6 and is easy to disassemble. I don’t want to take sole credit for this, what I use is cobbled together from other people’s ideas I came across while researching the topic. One very important tip, do this on a very warm, sunny day, preferably in the 80’s.
I use the following:
-a pane of glass (edges taped to prevent cuts)
-a plastic bin
The plastic bin has a little water in it to keep the melted wax from sticking to the bottom. A paper towel is placed over the top and a rubber band is used to fasten it in place. Set the bin inside the cooler, like so:
Then the glass goes on top:
Set it in a spot that gets sun all day, it works better if the temperatures are in the 80º’s. The wax will melt and drip through the towel leaving the brown sludge you see above (that is after melting, the wax is in the water below). That yellow cake of wax is the result at the end of the day and the debris that remained in the paper towel is called slumgum. I use the slumgum for my smoker in combination with pine needles and it works like a charm. The whole contraption cost about $6 because I only needed to purchase a cooler and a piece of glass. You can increase the intensity by lining the inside with aluminum foil or by painting it black. It gets very hot in there and I have never needed to enhance the melter’s effectiveness, but it may help if you expect part of the day to be cloudy. The resulting brown sludge is a combination of cocoons from brood frames (plus poop as the larvae defecate before spinning their cocoons), detris from the hive, some pollen, whatever has collected on the wax. If you use only wax from honey frames there will be less slumgum. Try it out and let me know how it works for you.