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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Plough Monday…

Anna, hanging outJack Frost loosened its grip on the Valley this week, packed up his fogbanks,  allowed the thermometer to shrug off an icicle or two, and thankfully went polar. Given the upper Midwest’s Arctic cold snap—forty-four below zero at International Falls, Minnesota, (by Jack London standards, that’s 76 degrees of frost, by the way), I guess I’d have to say Jack Frost’s was more a loose handshake than a “grip.”

For several days, however, I awoke to temperatures in the twenties; by day’s end, highs for the day were only in the mid-thirties. And fog clung to the Valley as if it were the setting for a Dickens’ novel. One morning the outside thermometer shivered at twenty-three degrees until early afternoon. That morning I awoke to find the kitchen window hummingbird feeder frozen solid. Not enough sugar anti-freeze at a 4:1 ratio to prevent the water from freezing. I had been bringing the feeder inside at night, rehanging it in the morning. (One cold morning  ice crystals formed in the feeder in less than an hour.) During the cold snap one of our resident Anna’s hummingbirds would roost in the maple tree, making sure there was no more than ten feet between her and her food source. (Somewhere I heard that because of its high metabolism a hummingbird can starve to death in an hour’s time if it can’t find food, a fact I can’t confirm, by the way.) I added a second feeder to the rotation and from time to time would switch out the frigid  feeder for the one I had warmed indoors. Day after day Anna huddled on the same twig and kept vigil over her bottle of syrup. Even though one of the feeders has a perch, she would hover as she fed, perhaps fearing her feet would freeze to the metal perch much like the kid who tongued the schoolyard  flagpole mid-winter. It may only be the end of January, but each time a perky little Anna’s busies itself at the feeder, there’s just the tiniest bit of summer in the air.

The sun came out today, so I took Gladys out for some welcome sunshine. I kicked her tires a couple times to wake her up and wheeled her out of the garage. Nearly a month since we’ve been on the road, but once you learn, you never forget to ride a bike, right? With the exception of routine activity at and around the dairy barns, the Valley still has its winter wraps on. The cornfields are wearing their green long johns, spring grass waiting for some thermal encouragement. A few changes, though: Rosario and crew have finished pruning and wrapping the blackberry canes northeast of Swiss Hall, a job that wasn’t finished my last visit.

In the communal corn patch I see a sign the New Year is creeping forward: a half burned Christmas tree in the middle of the field. The scorched icon reminds me my holiday lights are still swinging from the eaves; I had better take care of that. I don’t want the neighbors to think I’m rushing the season. Besides, Johnny Deck has me beaten anyway; but then he beat everyone else last year, too, come to think of it.

Just past Andy’s place and I ride up on Ginnifer Broers whose dog was taking her for jog. I pointed out a roosting bald eagle keeping an eagle’s eye out from the cottonwood along the river. “Better keep an eye on your dog,” I tease, nodding at the big bird. “The idea crossed my mind,”Ginnifer replies. “But maybe that would be a good thing?” I joke. She frowns and says, “I’m sure Ed wouldn’t mind!” Looks like Ginnifer and her canine companion are the new Mrs. Schmidt and Lucy in the Valley these days.

The flower man Song is taking advantage of the pleasant break in the weather. He’s covering a hoop house with plastic, hoping to jump start some early spring flowers, I imagine. Va, my dahlia friend, will be happy to know the thousand tulip bulbs she planted last fall have sprouted to a height of six or seven inches already. January, and while the big plow tractors hibernate in the equipment barns, a bit of farming has already begun. Now if  this were England two or three centuries ago, preparations for the season’s crop would also be underway. In fact Plough Monday would already be history for the New Year past.

                          Plough Monday, the next after Twelfthtide be past

                           Biddeth out with the Plough; the worst husband is last.


Plough Monday, the English farmer’s first farming feast of the New Year, falls the first Monday after Epiphany according to a book by Dorothy Hartley: Lost Country Life: How English country folk lived, worked, threshed, thatched, rolled fleece, milled corn, brewed mead… As luck would have it, the other day I took a box of books to the bookstore on Main Street, left behind a couple dozen and came away with Harley’s fascinating book. (I dare you to go into a bookstore and NOT leave without purchasing at least one book!)Ye Olde Farming

According to Hartley, Plough Monday is a feast day nearly as old as the hand plough itself and the tradition continued until early twentieth century when farming became mechanized in rural England. According to the tradition, “ploughboys,” young ploughmen in training, would go out of their way to do chores, little odd jobs, for the farmers across the countryside. These menial tasks, were performed gratis, and after the job was completed, the apprentices would remind the recipients, “You’ll remember this on Plough Monday?”

What happened on the eve of Plough Monday is rather like our own Halloween. At dusk, the apprentices would blacken their faces, turn their jackets inside out, and dragging an old ploughshare, would visit the farms in the area demanding “largesses for the ploughboys.” Most farmers would distribute a few coins among the lads. If the farmers were generous, the boys would scratch a line across their drives and that would be that; they were not bothered again. If a farmer was stingy, however, Hartley described the consequence he suffered: “If the household was mean and did not subscribe, the lads would fairly plough up the ground before the door so that it was a sea of mud for weeks, treading dirt into the house and causing endless trouble.” Apparently outhouse-tipping had not come into fashion…and I’m sure eggs were far too dear to pelt a  farmhouse with. The apprentices usually gathered enough loot to purchase a hearty dinner at the local inn, the innkeepers having reserved special space for the occasion.

I was so inspired by the spring-like day and the story of the ploughboys, that I came home, unstrung the holiday lights, took up the rake and shovel and planted some raspberries. My “largesse?” Fresh air, sunshine, exercise, and the promise of  fresh, ripe Tulameen raspberries some months down the road.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I Don’t Do Windows…

Good riddance, streaksMany years of dwelling in rental housing, most of it, by the way, spent in apartments, led us here to our one slim acre in the Valley. When we were looking for a building site, our criteria were simple: find property suitable for a home, enough left over for an expanse of lawn to landscape, rich soil to raise a vegetable and flower garden, space enough to accommodate a stand or two of honeybees—and plenty of exposure to sunlight. We looked at wooded properties and thought, “If we built here, we might as well build on the dark side of the moon.” Sunlight…open space…in this vale of rain, drizzle, fog, damp and SLD (“seasonal light disorder”), let the sunshine in was our top priority. And so we purchased our narrow little acre of pasture land. Not a tree or shrub on the place; only pasture grass waist high in summer. (Well, that’s where the sun doesn’t shine anyway.)

In 1979 our daughter joined us, and our cozy little rambler seemed crowded; we needed more elbowroom, so we added on our “sunroom,” as we called it because this space was pretty much enclosed by glass: two skylights, windows to the north and south, large floor to ceiling windows to the west. Let it shine, let the brightness in, capture what there is of the stingy winter light. This quest for light was and is fine and good, but onto all this glass a little darkness must fall.

Windows.  Glass. They seem to be magnets for speckles of dirt, composite film from day to day contact with the great out-of-doors, and whatever other airborne stuff  happens to brush up against the panes. Such accumulation can’t be allowed, of course: it isn’t tidy and flies in the face of the old saying about cleanliness. Twice a year—spring and fall—my wife  launches that old, familiar lament:“I have to do something about those windows!” There’s a saying in this household, and I claim modest credit for its origin. Come to think of it, I’m the only one who uses the phrase: “Low priority!” To be sure, we all have our priorities. The only time specks, spots, and smears are noticeable, to me at least, is when the afternoon sun highlights them as it gently sinks lower on  the horizon; in the morning hours those same windows are crystal clear. At least to this observer…. But when the afternoon sun backdrops those large plates of glass, it’s obvious the windows are “stained.”

In mid-October when the sun’s position in the western sky is at its optimum declination for show and tell,  my wife’s birthday rolls around. As the years churn by, it’s harder and harder to think of an appropriate gift to commemorate  the occasion. This year, however, when the first refrain of “I have to do something about those windows,”echoed in the autumn air, a wonderful idea came to me.“Why not gift the birthday girl with a window washing service!” Not only was the gift practical, but I wouldn’t have to wrap it!

Just a bit of internet research and the service was acquired. Brad of pulled into the driveway promptly at the appointed time. He began at once, removing ladders and equipment and set to work loosing the window screens and hosing them down.  Then he addressed the windows. Talk about a thorough job! When you’re paying for a service, you can’t help but look over your shoulder a time or two…you know, just to see if your money’s working as it was intended. As discreetly as possible, I went about my business, the entire time superintending Brad’s every move over my shoulder: the outside surfaces first, then inside for the indoor surfaces. Pretending to putter about in the garden, two or three times I watched Brad exit the house to redo the western plate glass windows (ah, yes…the west, that tattletale direction for dirt). “I’m not satisfied with that, “Brad muttered as once again he hauled his stepladder outside to remove some defiant speck of residue from the plate glass. Then up on the roof  he clambered to do battle with the skylights.

Just short of two hours Brad had the windows—excuse the cliché—“squeaky clean.” You would be hard pressed to find the slightest mote of dirt on any window inside or out. I sent Brad on his way with a hearty “thank-you” and a twenty dollar tip. Now with the glass “wrapped” in a sheen of clean, I could focus on baking the birthday cake. The wife was overwhelmed by her gift and the welcome reprieve from the squeegee, the trailing garden hose and the task of squirting the suds off the windows.

When you live in a farming community beside a busy state highway, dirt and grime are everywhere. You raise enough dust weekly yourself  just by mowing the lawn, tilling  the garden, and shaking out your farmin’ clothes on the deck. And the windows? They bear the dust brunt, it seems. Brad’s window service was so thorough the windows maintained their luster for a long time.

Four months have passed. Now spider webs trail across the glass and spider dribble trickles down the panes.  How unsightly! One feathered guest from the bird feeder out back dusted himself off on a western window, adding  a fossil-like bird print to the glass collage. How irritating! And just last week a starling with a fully loaded alimentary canal collided with a pane, leaving behind at least a pound and a half of spatter. How disgusting! But little handprints on a two hundred dollar window washing service….handprints



Saturday, January 19, 2013

Still Waxing Strong…

Strained waxIt’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

                                                          Eleanor Roosevelt

Back in the low traffic volume days, before the DOT turned right-of-way pit bulls, I used to sell my honey crop roadside in front of the house. Along with my honey sales, on occasion I had requests for beeswax, so many requests in fact that I was sure to include a block of wax among the jars of honey in my display. Of those who expressed an interest in beeswax, I always asked what uses they had for it. Their answers were always interesting. One customer wanted wax to make boot grease. He would add the melted beeswax to bear fat grease, mix the two together, and smear the concoction on his boots. I told him the smell alone would keep the water away. Beeswax, I discovered from an artist customer, was also used in batik dying, an Indonesian art form that enjoyed worldwide popularity. In batik art molten wax is dribbled in specific designs on cloth: t-shirts, scarves, and dresses. The batik method was also used to create prints for framing and wall hangings. Beeswax, because of its special cloying properties, was superior to paraffin which turned brittle when it hardened and tended to break free from the cloth. Others wanted smaller amounts of wax for thread and twine to stiffen and protect it. I had heard as well that beeswax was used to wax bowstrings and bind the individual strings into one strand. Just last fall Matt Frohning stopped by to pick up a pound of beeswax for his dad Tim who needed the ingredient in a healing concoction for his cows—some sort of balm for udder and teat, I assumed. And the gaskets used for seating your bathroom toilet? Another practical use for the honeybees’ byproduct.

Beeswax is used commercially in cosmetics, lipsticks, glosses, and lip balm. We’ve all seen the ubiquitous displays of “Burt’s Bees” products where beeswax creativity really waxes wild. According to The Hive and the Honey Bee (Dadant and Sons, Hamilton, Illinois, 4th printing, 1978) other “interesting minor uses” for this bee byproduct are:

…its inclusion as an ingredient in the composition of adhesives, crayons, chewing gum, inks, basketball molding, grafting wax, ski wax, ironing wax, and wax for thread and archers’ bow strings.

Interestingly, though, much of the beeswax produced in the U.S. goes right back into the beekeeping industry. This wax is purified and molded into foundation wax. Beeswax foundation are thin sheets of wax imprinted with hexagonal cells, most usually of the circumference used by the bees themselves when they construct worker bee cells.Foundation wax( Note: a thinner, lighter wax is used in the production of comb and chunk honey.) A special wax press roller does the imprinting. These beeswax sheets are then installed in the removable wooden frames used in the modern beehive and are “drawn out” as needed by the worker bees for brood rearing, honey and pollen storage.  These preformed sheets not only give the bees a head start on comb building but also encourage them to build worker cells instead of drone comb which would result in an excess of these freeloaders.

For you carpenters out there, when you’re working with hardwoods such as oak, rub a bit of beeswax on any screws you use to join pieces of wood together. The wax lubricates the screws, keeps them from shearing from the friction of metal twisting into hardwood.

                            *                    *                    *                    *

Many of the customers at my roadside stand wanted beeswax for candle making. In fact candle making is the second major use of  beeswax produced in this country, with the Catholic Church being a major consumer of candles which it uses in religious services. (I can’t confirm this fact but I heard somewhere that Church candles must contain at least 60 percent pure beeswax.)

No candle is lovelier than a natural beeswax taper or emits such a distinct, gentle fragrance. Beeswax has a low melting point of 147.9 degrees, a characteristic that allows a beeswax candle to burn with a constant, even flame. Whereas the harder paraffin candle has the tendency to droop in time, beeswax candles never seem to warp. I reserve my rendered wax cappings for candles; it is too valuable a resource to waste. A few years back I sold a few pounds to a bee supply outlet and only received a dollar per pound. I regret that poor business decision to this day.

A candle maker is called a “chandler” and this time of the year I become one. Most of my candles are molded tapers which I pour a half dozen at a time. The six candle mold is easy to use once you get the hang of threading the wicking through the six cylinders. threading the wickMaking sure the wicks are centered and taut is a bit more challenging. You want the wick to run through the center of the candle straight and true (or as true as one can eyeball it). A series of tugs and yanks on the wicking removes any excess and ensures the frugal use of material. A simple hairpin is used to center the wick at the base of  each candle and hold it firmly in place. This is the tricky part; you don’t want the wicking to slide either side of the tube and repositioning one hairpin after another is part of the procedure.mold ready for pour  The pour is the next step. I melt the rendered and strained wax in a double boiler fashioned from a large coffee can that doubles as the exterior water-filled jacket. A pouring tankard with a spout contains the candle wax. When the wax is completely melted, I’m ready to pour.

Double boiler


The pouring process is pretty straightforward. Just be careful not to overfill. Once each cylinder is filled, you have to monitor the cooling process. The wicking absorbs wax, so some contraction occurs as the wax cools and more liquid wax must be added to each cylinder as needed to prevent hollow bases. topping offPre-made wax plugs can be inserted into the hot wax to fill the void or, as I do, continue filling until each base is completely covered.

After each tube is completely filled, I allow the wax to set. When it has hardened and cooled, the mold goes into the freezer for twenty-four hours. Even though I spray each cylinder with a silicon release aerosol, I’ve found the candles release easier after they’ve been frozen. In fact in many pours the frozen tapers pop out two and three at a time.candle pour First, I cut the wicking loops to separate the candles. Then the excess wax is pried from the bases of the tapers. Sometimes during this process the candles pop loose themselves.





from the mold

Once the candles are released, I trim the excess wick and wax from the base of each taper and begin the finishing process.




These cold days are perfect for finishing candles. The mold is made from sheet metal tin and where the tin meets on each cylinder, there is a fine seam and as the wax sets, a slight ridge forms along this seam. Using a sharp jackknife, I sliver and smooth the ridge until it’s hardly noticeable. I keep the candles outside on a towel, and when I scrape along the waxen seam, the cold wax curls neatly away from the candle until the ridge is gone.Six beeswax tapers

The finishing continues: I trim each wick to approximately three-eighths inch, remove excess wax from the base of each candle, and using a metal candle holder heated on the woodstove, round and smooth the butt of each taper. Using a pair of discarded pantyhose, I rub each candle to a high sheen finish. (Note: I try to do this either in private or at least when no one is looking.) I then wrap the finished tapers individually in a sheet of tissue paper I’ve saved from those used to separate sheets of foundation wax.  Finished tapers                       

One is not a consummate chandler if he hasn’t made candles by the hand-dip method. Hand dipped candles require a substantial amount of beeswax, enough to fill your dipping tankard nearly to the brim if they’re to have any length. wick hangerThe dipping process is more time-consuming and like most artistic endeavors, requires a bit of technique. My tankard allows me to dip seven to eight inch tapers. There are a number of apparatuses that enable the chandler to produce multiple tapers at a single dipping. My setup is a simple wire frame which lets me dip one pair at a time.

While the double boiler melts your wax, measure your wicking so both wicks are the same length. To keep the wicks from floating free in the molten wax, tie a small bolt to the end of each string to weight them down plumb bob fashion.setting the wicks

Three or four dippings are sufficient to set the wicks and add enough weight to keep them from floating free when they are submerged. At this point you can remove the weights.

Tapering a hand-dipped candle requires a bit of technique. If you don’t employ the use of gravity, your candle will end up looking more like a cylinder or a stick than a taper. To prevent this “tubing” effect, gently dunk the wicks into the wax and then jerk them rapidly from the dipping tank. This allows the hot wax to flow quickly down the taper; as the wax at the tip is hotter, less adheres to this part of the shaft. More wax collects further down the shaft as it cools and sets, creating the tapering effect.several dunks later Allow a half minute or so between dunkings to set the wax. (Again, these cold days are perfect for candle dipping.)

You can customize your hand-dipped tapers to fit the base of any candlestick; small, dainty tapers for smaller sticks; thicker bases for larger candleholders. And longer tapers, of course, if you use a deeper dipping tank.

Once my candles are finished, I set the wax by submersing the tapers  in the cold water of the rain barrel. Then, careful to look over my shoulder first, I give each a brisk rubbing with the pantyhose to finish it and my pair of tapers are complete. Even though hand dipping candles takes considerable time (thirty to forty dippings) and a bit of technique, the product is so satisfying.


                        My candle burns at both ends;

                       It will not last the night;

                       But ah, my foes,

                       And oh, my friends--

                      It gives a lovely light.

                                            Edna St. Vincent Millay

I hope your candle was paraffin, Edna.  Surely a poet knows better than to waste good beeswax!Just burn one end

Sunday, January 6, 2013

None of Your Beeswax…

boiled waxUnless you purchase it…or as in my case have your own beeswax factory. “Beeswax factory”: now that I think about it, that’s quite an appropriate term for a “colony” or “hive” of bees. after all what is a hive of bees, really, (excepting the wooden frame supports) but a “House built of Wax?” There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of native bees, and of these to my knowledge, only the humble honeybee, Apis mellifera, manufactures beeswax. As you know, The Ripple is all about obtaining and presenting the straight up facts, so I thought I’d better research the subject more thoroughly. I consulted my bee scientist friend Don Rolfs and put the question to him (Don has been studying native bees for years and is currently working on a field guide for the native bees of Washington State.) It so happened I was in error. Don reminded me of the genus Bombus, the bumblebee, and continued to say that a bumblebee colony fashions “honeypots,”primitive cells compared to those of A. mellifera, from its own beeswax; however, and I think Don would agree, bumblebees, in keeping with their small numbers, produce only a minimal quantity of wax,  just enough for their needs…no more.

Beeswax. From this remarkable material honeybees fashion their living space: brood chambers, storage compartments for pollen and honey, wax buttresses for structural integrity. For the architecture of the hive, honeybees, as if they were imprinted by the geometry of Archimedes, fashion their wax into hexagons. Without throwing too much science your way, suffice it to say that as a geometric figure, the hexagon is the ideal shape for maximizing space while limiting the amount of building material. Because of the shortness of its sides, each wall of a hexagonal cell actually functions as two walls: first, for itself, and secondly for the adjoining cell, thus minimizing the amount of material used in construction. This attaching or piling on of one cell to another produces what in geometry is known as tessellations, a type of architecture known for its beauty and strength. Not only are honeybees marvels of geometry, but they are also in tune with the physics of gravity. Each waxen cell is fashioned at a slight upward tilt to the horizontal so  the uncured honey doesn’t drain or ooze from its container. beeswax comb

Scientists have analyzed the chemical composition of beeswax and found it to be a complex goulash of hydrocarbons, alcohols, and acids, but The Ripple prefers to set the science aside and focus instead on the wonder of beeswax. It is the very “sweat and blood” of the bee and is secreted by four pair of wax glands on the bee’s belly. These glands begin to form in the young honeybee at approximately two weeks of age and are active for only a certain period in the bee’s lifetime. By the time the bee becomes a field worker, the glands have basically disappeared. Beeswax itself is wonder enough but the real miracle is how the bees fashion it into comb. At this point I’ll defer to one Mr. Cheshire whose quaint description of the industrious comb fashioners I found quoted  in A.I. Root’s ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture:

The wax having been secreted, a single bee starts the first comb by attaching to the roof little masses of the plastic material, into which her scales are converted by prolonged chewing with secretion; others follow her example and the processes of scooping and thinning commence, the parts removed being always added to the edge of the work, so that in the darkness and between the bees grows downward that wonderful combination  of lightness and strength, grace and utility, which has so long provoked the wonder and awakened the speculation of the philosopher, the naturalist, and the mathematician.

The production of beeswax “waxes and wanes” according to a hive’s needs. The two activities in which a colony produces the maximum amount of wax are honey storage and swarm preparation. During a honey flow bees need additional storage space for the surplus nectar and ramp up wax production and comb building. As a hive prepares to swarm, the migrating bees gorge themselves with honey which they immediately begin to convert from sugar to wax. Because a swarm is homeless at its issue, once a suitable home is found, comb building is essential and immediate. If the new hive is to survive, the queen must begin laying eggs immediately, and she needs a place to “cradle” her young. For one wishing to observe these flakes or scales of beeswax, a swarm or recently hived swarm is the place to look. These scales are miniature works of beauty. Each is slightly pear-shaped, translucent, and excuse the melodrama but as white as “the driven snow.” My first encounter with these wax scales came a few years back after I had set a ladder under a swarm in our backyard apple tree. The ladder sat there until late afternoon until I was ready to shake the cluster into an empty box. When I dragged the box to the top of the ladder, I noticed dandruff-like scales, dainty white speckles, sprinkled on the top step of the ladder: beeswax, pure as the driven snow…the swarm was prepared to begin construction whenever and wherever immediately.

If a swarm clings for several days, it will begin comb building on the branch, fencepost—wherever it has settled—leaving  ridges of snow white comb behind whenever it leaves or is hived. In the rare chance a new home is not found for several days, the colony will attempt to build comb and establish a hive in the open air. Years ago I cut one such a colony free from the raspberry canes where it had swarmed and built several combs filled with brood, pollen, and honey. My intercession certainly saved the bees from wintering in the open, a winter they most likely would not have survived.

It is estimated that between seven to fifteen pounds of honey are necessary to produce a pound of beeswax. Experts have determined  honeybees must consume an average of 8.4 pounds to produce one  pound of beeswax. Thus by wax production the beekeeper loses honey but gains wax, another valuable and highly marketable product. Beeswax demand in the U.S.A. is twice what the industry produces, so it’s to the benefit of every beekeeper to save all the beeswax his apiary yields. These days pure beeswax, rendered and strained, commands a premium price of ten dollars a pound.

After the capping knife is cleaned and stored, the last drop of honey bottled, stainless steel equipment washed and put away, and the honey supers neatly stacked, there’s one task left for this beekeeper: rendering the season’s wax cappings into pure blocks of beeswax. cappingsAs each beeswax cell is filled with cured nectar, the bees seal it over with a thin cap of pure wax which is removed during the extracting process. Cappings wax is of the finest and cleanest quality and yields a premium product, a pale yellow beeswax. (Wax can also be rendered from old dark brood combs, but it tends to be discolored because of countless brood cycles it has undergone.)

When I had fifty plus colonies here on the place, it took nearly the entire summer to melt the previous season’s cappings. In those days I used a solar wax melter and a hot summer’s day would yield one wax brick.Wax melter By summer’s end all last year’s cappings, nearly pure beeswax, were stored in brick form. These days I use a double jacketed wax melter which functions as a double boiler. As the wax melts, it trickles out a spout into a small tub where it rises to the top of any excess honey and impurities the cappings contained.cappings wax

Residue such as bee parts, pollen, propolis cling to the bottom of the crenelated pile and must be scraped free. The wax at this stage, however, still contains impurities, so on to the next step: I combine the wax with a quart or so of water and boil both together until the wax and water mingle and the wax is washed free of extraneous debris. Rendering pot

Step two: the boiling mixture is strained through old sweat shirt material. (By the way, this cloth is easily obtained in our household, especially when the wife mandates: “Don’t you dare wear that ragged, old thing in public again!” And out to the shed it goes…more straining material.)straining cloth

The water/wax mixture is allowed to cool; the wax floats on the surface of the water and any residue adheres to the bottom of the block. Once again, I scrape away the scum. The more this process is repeated, the cleaner, the whiter, the wax becomes. I usually repeat the procedure twice which seems to be sufficient to render the blocks nearly free of impurities.Strained wax

Now I have my beeswax, purified by the water bath method, so what’s next, you ask? Just what are you going to do with all that clean, fragrant wax? Well, it’s really none of your beeswax, is it…until the next post, that is.