Working with bees wax can be a sticky mess, leaving your kitchen and tools completely covered and potentially clogging your sink drain. Here are two things crutial to understanding bees wax cleanup:
1. Bees Wax has a high melting point somewhere between 140 and 150 degrees F, which is enough to cause a second degree burn in 3 seconds, or a 3rd degree burn in 5 seconds. Skin can only handle roughly 120 degrees before serious damage occurs. Tap water does not get hot enough to melt wax, and running hot water after wax has gone down the drain won’t help you.
2. Bees wax is oil based, which means trying to clean it with hot water you’re likely only going to make the problem worse by spreading the mess rather than dissolving it.
Soap makers know that adding beeswax to soap increases the amount of lye needed to form soap, but only by about half as much as adding an equivalent amount of oil. This is because about half of the weight of bees wax is oil and can be converted by lye into soap. The other half of the wax is what makes it physically hard, as well as hard to clean.
As an oil based substance, it can be diluted with oil to make it workable. Anyone whose made a body butter has had a chance to witness this first hand. It easily whips into a hot oil to make a soft spreadable oily butter. The non-oil particles in the wax are then suspended in a soft oily matrix, and the whole mess can easily be washed away with soap.
The best way to clean hot wax off of your kitchen implements after processing honey, making soap or making candles is to put your items on a baking tray and slowly and carefully pour hot oil over them. Following up by placing them in a 200 degree F oven can help finish the dissolution. Hot oil can also help a wax slowed drain. This technique will work well for anything that’s non-porous, like kitchen utensils, pots, etc but don’t try it on anything that will hold an oil stain like fabric.
Keep in mind, the oil has to be over 150 degrees, meaning it is hot enough to absolutely wreck your hands in seconds. Be careful, and be safe!
After dissolving the wax in oil, wait until it’s cool enough to touch and clean up with soap.
Know of another way to clean up wax? I’d love to hear it. Leave it in the comments below.