Beeswax has been one of the oldest materials used by mankind as it even goes back thousands of years ago to the time of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs because of how useful and long-lasting beeswax is. However, just like almost anything that’s organic, beeswax can also get moldy if there is too much moisture in and around it. That said, beeswax can still be used if you can remove the mold, and that is why we are here to show you a couple of tips on how to remove mold from beeswax.
Can beeswax get moldy?
One of the things that make beeswax so useful in many different applications is that it does not go bad. But, even if beeswax does not go bad and will never rot away, does that mean that mold can’t develop on it? Can beeswax get moldy?
So, before we get to discuss whether or not beeswax can get moldy, we have to talk more about wax bloom on your beeswax. If you are a beekeeper and you see something whitish that developed on your beeswax over a certain period of time, you may think that it is mold. These white substances can look like some sort of coating that can be snow white and powdery at times or may even have a purplish tint to it. It can be seen in rendered beeswax, beeswax candles, stored combs, or honeycomb capping.
In that regard, you should know that this white substance is not mold, even though it might look like it is mold. This is actually what we call wax bloom, which should be harmless and quite normal as it actually comes from the beeswax itself. As such, you shouldn’t worry about wax blooms because they are perfectly safe and will not cause your beeswax to go bad or to become useless.
So to sum up the whole wax blood thing!! Even if some of the growths on your beeswax look like they are not mold but actually wax blooms, it’s still a good idea to be cautious. After all, mold is also normal to find on beeswax. If you just assume everything ‘moldy looking’ in your hives are wax blooms, you might be in for a shock one day! Mold is a real threat to a beehive, after all!
The major cause of mold on your beeswax is, of course, when there is too much moisture in the beehive or when the beeswax is exposed to excess moisture that can easily make the beeswax a breeding ground for mold to develop.
However, the major cause of mold on beeswax is actually when the beehive is too moist because a lot of bees have died or because there aren’t enough bees inside the hive. Normally, a hive won’t be susceptible to mold as long as the bees are healthy and are living in a place that provides them with conditions that are suitable enough for them. The reason is that the bees in the hive will actually fan the excess moisture out of the hive to make sure that the living conditions inside the hive are right for the colony. Think of all those bee wings flapping away! The perfect anti-mold measure most of the time!
So, if too many bees have died or if the entire colony has died out or has even abandoned the hive, there won’t be enough bees to fan out the moisture inside the hive. As such, mold will begin to develop due to the excess moisture. And when there is mold inside the hive, the honey and the beeswax you harvest from it may also be moldy.
Still, you have to learn that mold on honey and beeswax are generally harmless unless you have mold allergy. The problem, however, is that the mold will give your honey or beeswax a different taste or smell. This is also one of the ways you can differentiate wax blooms from molds as wax blooms actually smell like beeswax, while molds smell and taste like mildew.
Can you clean mold off of beeswax?
So, if there is mold on your beeswax, does that mean the end of the world for your beeswax? Is there any way for you to clean the mold off of your beeswax? Many people tend to ask this question because mold can actually ruin beeswax or honey. And too many people have thrown away beeswax that is moldy because they think that they could no longer save it or because it would become dangerous or hazardous to their health if they were to render and try to use it.
While we did say that mold on your beeswax is generally harmless unless you are allergic to mold or unless you want to process the beeswax into something that has to smell good (mold can ruin the smell), it is possible for you to clean the mold off the beeswax. And that is something we are here to talk about as we are going to let you know a few tips that can help you remove the mold cultures from your beeswax.
Render the beeswax
If you are a beekeeper and you have some experience in processing the beeswax you regularly collect from your beehives, you would know what rendering means. Rendering is essentially how you clean beeswax from its raw form so that it will turn out clean enough to be used for all sorts of different projects and products.
Beekeepers should know that rendering is one of the most important steps in processing beeswax, because this is what cleans it. You are essentially removing all of the dirty ‘bee bits’ and all of the other different debris that is on the beeswax.
But did you know that rendering the beeswax will also kill mold that may have developed on the beeswax? Yes, that’s right. Just proceeding with the normal steps of processing your beeswax by rendering it will be enough to kill and remove the mold. Simple, right?
So, as soon as you see mold developing on your beeswax and you have already ascertained that this is mold and not wax blooms, don’t panic because you can simply render the beeswax and proceed as usual without the need to throw away the beeswax.
Here is a quick tutorial on how to properly render your beeswax:
- Wrap the beeswax in cheesecloth and make sure that you tie the corners together so that your beeswax is tightly wrapped inside the cheesecloth.
- Place the wrapped beeswax inside a pot of simmering water. Allow the water to boil and melt all of the beeswax that was wrapped inside the cheesecloth. The cheesecloth will collect any of the undesirable bits such as the molds as the beeswax begins to melt. This process will also kill off the molds and any bacteria on the beeswax.
- As soon as the beeswax has risen to the top of the pot of water, allow it to cool down before you try to remove it. You would know when it is ready to be removed when the beeswax begins to form a yellowish disk at the top.
- Remove the cheesecloth and then drain the water using a strainer so that you will catch all of the bits of cooled beeswax.
- Melt the collected beeswax in a double boiler if you really want to make sure that the beeswax is clean and free of mold.
- Filter the melted beeswax to remove any unwanted debris that the cheesecloth may not have collected. From there, you are now ready to do what you want with your beeswax and even pour it into molds that will give the beeswax its final shape and form.
The beeswax, at this point, should be safe enough to be used for different products such as fancy soaps or candles. However, I like to err on the side of caution and only use this previously moldy beeswax for things that won’t be put directly on your skin (such as the soap or lotion products). This is a personal choice, but I can still put this beeswax to good use making candles or coating my new frames!
So, in that case, we recommend that you use the beeswax that had mold on them for products such as paint, candles, furniture polish, and other similar products that aren’t too close to your body. Meanwhile, use beeswax that did not have mold for any other products. Most beekeepers should still have more than enough beeswax to go around 🙂
Throw it away if it’s a processed beeswax product
Here is the bad news. When you find dreaded mold on a final product, there is no way to salvage it because in this case the beeswax has already been rendered and then processed into a finished product.
In that case, the best thing to do is to throw it away because it may cause more of the mold to spread out and possibly infest all of the other organic substances in your home. This is quite important for beeswax wraps, candles, and soaps because you are regularly exposing your body to such products. After all, it is better to be safe than sorry because you can could get sick if you do expose yourself to mold.
Depending on the final product, you might simply be able to melt down and render your beeswax again. This would certainly be better than simply tossing it!