Yes, our midsections are indeed waxing rounder with age but that is not the current topic. Since our first improvised wax melting we acquired an inexpensive 21.5 quart water-bath canner with a rack to use. The handles of the wire rack have sharp S-bends that allow them to sit on the sides of the pot, holding the rack bottom well above the pot bottom. The intended use is to let the canner conveniently load the rack with jars before plunging it into boiling water and then equally conveniently unload it after a suitable time in the water.

In wax melting there is no plunging but the rack is left sitting high to hold the crushed comb above the waiting water. Unfortunately the handles proved too tall for the pot to fit in our oven even on the lowest shelf. We could have simply put it on the bottom of the oven without using a shelf but we have always heard that is a bad thing to do so we instead bent the handles down against the edge of a table. The extra bend is visible in the picture at left (click for larger image) and we could now use the bottom shelf. We do not anticipate ever canning but if we do we can always obtain a new unmodified rack.

To melt we put several inches of water (probably more than needed) in the bottom of the pot, place the modified rack atop it, line the rack bottom with paper towels, and load it with crushed wax. The whole assembly is then carefully put in the oven on the lowest shelf. Carefully. The rack is too easy to dislodge and drop in the water. The oven is then set to wax-melting temperature and we wait for hours, adding more crushed wax as the pile melts and gets lower.

The melting point for beeswax is in the range 144 to 147°F (62 to 64%deg;C). Heated above 185°F (85°C) it discolors. The lowest regular temperature on our oven is 170°F (77°C) and we have had good results at that temperature. For our most recent batch, we had discovered that the oven has a dehydration cycle allowing lower temperatures so we tried setting it to the high end of the wax-melting range. The wax softened and melted but did not flow readily through the paper and into the water. It is possible that the oven is not precisely calibrated. Or it is possible that just barely liquid wax flows less well than rather warmer liquid wax. After a nearly entire day produced but a few lumps we ran out of patience and returned to using our familiar temperature. Several hours later we had another nice large disk of wax to add to our collection.

Now to finally make some candles.