Rendering Beeswax

Rendering your beeswax cleans it of impurities and is necessary in order to use your beeswax in most projects. There are a few methods for rendering beeswax – I use the crock-pot/slow-cooker method. It’s easy and doesn’t involve pouring any hot wax through a strainer.

First, you need to gather your beeswax and supplies. You will need:

  • a slow-cooker (with lid)
  • an old (but clean) white, cotton t-shirt, cut in 2 pieces so you have the front and back torso separated – you can find inexpensive t-shirts at crafts stores if you don’t have one that you can use
  • kitchen twine or other string
  • approximately 2-4 cups water
  • a spatula or other utensil
  • a knife

You will want to use items that will not be needed for food in the future because beeswax is difficult to fully remove from objects, even after rigorous cleansing. I purchased a spare slow-cooker, 2nd hand from someone local, for rendering my wax.

Step 1 – Add about 2 inches of water to the slow-cooker pot. Cover the pot with 1 layer of the tshirt and tie with kitchen twine just under the pot lip. Don’t tie the t-shirt too taunt – you want it to give a little.

Step 2 – Set your pot in the base, making sure the t-shirt is not stuck inside the base. Place your wax cappings and any other beeswax on top of the t-shirt. You can push the t-shirt down so it hangs like a hammock, but keep it at least an inch from the water level. Place the lid on the slow-cooker.

Step 3 – Turn slow-cooker on LOW. Melting the beeswax will take approximately 2 hours, depending on how much wax you have and the size of your slow-cooker. As the wax melts and drips through the t-shirt you will see dirt, propolis and other impurities left behind. You can spread the wax out as it melts if desired.

Step 4 – Once the wax is completely melted, turn off the slow-cooker. With oven mitts, remove the pot from the base. Untie or cut the twine and discard the t-shirt (if it’s 100% cotton this can be composted).

Step 5 – Let the beeswax cool and harden. Once solid, remove it from the pot (remember there’s water underneath the wax that can splash). You may need to use a knife to dislodge the wax from the sides of the pot.

Step 6 – Dry the wax disc. The bottom of the disc will be rough and will contain some impurities. Scrape this off the wax disc with a knife.

Step 7 – Repeat process with your wax disc using the other piece of clean t-shirt. This process can be repeated as many times as you wish, but I usually render my wax twice.

After cooling, drying and scraping your beeswax a second time you can store it as is or melt again in a double boiler or wax melting pitcher and mold into smaller blocks. I like to mold my wax into small discs, each weighed out to the portion I will need for my lip and skin balm recipes.

Remember it’s best to store your wax sealed in a ziploc-type bag or airtight container because it can attract wax moths.

Amazing Lavender

This evening I was pulling out some Pennsylvania smartweed but didn’t notice the bumblebee among the flowers and was promptly bitten.  I immediately remembered what my friend, Jenny, had told me after my encounter with a yellow jacket last month…  ” Lavender essential oil applied immediately r-e-a-l-l-y HELPS!  Almost no swelling/pain!” 

Well, I don’t have any lavender EO in the house, but I do have lavender plants in my perennial garden.  I plucked a few sprigs off a plants, crushed the leaves and held it to the bite.  I honestly wasn’t sure if it would help, even though I know lavender is wonderful for burns (more about that later).  Within a few minutes I had no pain!  I continued working in the garden and picked a bunch of beans!

…now to lavender and burns.  Back in college I worked at The Body Shop and learned that lavender can speed the healing of burns.  This was discovered by someone who was working with lavender oil a long time ago, got burned while doing his experiment and accidentally spilled the lavender oil on his hand.  The burned area that was covered by the lavender oil healed much faster than the rest of the burn. 

I have gotten burned in the kitchen several times and applied crushed lavender leaves immediately.  Viola!  Pain relief and quick healing. 

A few months ago I was having soup for lunch…it was much hotter than I thought it was.  I burned my mouth so bad…I don’t think I’ve ever burned my mouth that bad before!  I took a big drink of cold water, but I remembered that I read somewhere that sugar helps if you burn your mouth…not sure how or why…but I got some sugar out. 

Then I thought about the lavender…so I ran out and picked some leaves.  I put them in a sandwich bag with the sugar and crushed the leaves so that the sugar could absorb the lavender oil.  I picked out the leaves and let a couple teaspoons dissolve in my mouth.  The pain subsided slowly and I took a couple more teaspoons of sugar later that day.  Do you know how after you burn your tongue you can’t taste anything very well?  That evening my mouth felt better…and, even more importantly, I could taste my dinner.

If you’d like to make your own Lavender Infused Sugar, simply add a teaspoon or so dried lavender buds to a cup of sugar.  Store in a canning jar or other jar in a dark place for 2 weeks.  Shake the sugar every day or couple days so the sugar can absorb the oils.  You can strain the buds out or leave them in.  Enjoy!

A Belated Happy St. Patty’s Day

We didn’t have corned beef and cabbage at our home…. we had corned beef and roasted potatoes, and other veggies.  This year I got a Nathan’s brand corned beef from our local market and it turned out great! 

We also had the best Irish soda bread.  I got the recipe from a dear friend several years ago and make it every year. 

Here’s the recipe:

4 cups                    flour

1 cup                      sugar

1 tsp                       baking soda

3 tsp                       baking powder

1 tsp                       salt

2 cups                    buttermilk or regular milk

1 cup                      raisins (rinsed so they don’t stick together)

1                              egg  (beaten)

Mix all ingredients together.  Pour in a cast iron skillet (grease and flour well).  Sprinkle ¼ cup sugar on top.  Bake at 350° for 1 hour.  Let cool 1 hour in pan.  Remove and cool completely.

Happy Fastnacht Day!!

Today is more commonly called Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday, but here in Berks county, PA we are in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country!  Fastnacht (also spelled fasnacht or faschnacht) are a doughy potato pastry, similar to a doughnut, and fried in lard.  In the past people spread honey on them but, today, you most commonly find them glazed or coated in confectioners’ sugar.Mardi Gras has been a traditional day of feasting since the Middle Ages.  All the feasting would use up extra food in the home pantry that would be a temptation during the  40 days of Lenten fasting.  Lent is the period of 40 days prior to Easter and fasting during this time began as a Catholic custom, but is also celebrated by many Protestants.

Historically, fastnacht dough was set out to rise on the Monday before Ash Wednesday.  It was then cut into squares and fried in lard for Tuesday morning breakfast.  Everyone would eat all the fastnachts they wanted with their coffee or other morning  beverage.


Fastnachts & Coffee

I wish you all a happy Fastnacht Day!  If you can’t find fastnacht where you live, here’s a recipe I found at  This farm is in Bradford County, PA and the family is of German and PA Dutch heritage.  (The recipe make 100 fastnachts – you might want to reduce it!)

Ingredients2 cups mashed potatoes
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup shortening and ½ cup butter
1 quart milk – scalded and cooled
5 cups flour
3 packages yeast in 1 cup warm water (dissolve yeast in water + 1 tea sugar)2 eggs
1 tea salt
Rest of 5 pound bag of flour  

DirectionsMix first six ingredients in order with electric mixer. Let rise until double, approx. four hours at room temperature.Stir remaining 3 ingredients into previous batter. Let rise till double (approx. 5 hours). Roll and cut. Let rise again till double (2 – 3 hours).Fry in lard at 425. Makes 100.

Happy Fastnacht Day!!