Wax: obtaining, processing, storage

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The main factor that defines wax quality is the quality of wax raw material that can be devided into 3 sorts. The first-class raw material has white or light - yellow colour, is dry, does not contain pollen, honey and other admixtures, not damaged by moth, contains over 70% of wax. Wax obtained from it has the super quality, white or light-yellow colour, does not contain any admixtures, is very hard.

The second-class raw material ranges from dark - grey to dark - brown colour, contains 55-70% of wax, but does not contain pollen and honey. Wax obtained from it has yellow or light-brown colour. In the low part of an ingot heterogeneity in dark colour is admitted. The third-class raw material has black colour and contains not more than 40-55% of wax. It is used for obtaining brown or dark - brown wax of low hardness. The lower raw quality the higher the content of water and insoluble mechanical admixtures in wax. Wax obtained by petrol extraction from merva (a foam) has the lowest quality (low hardness and elasticity, high emulgated water content). It is not used for making beewax foundation.

Wax obtaining technology influences wax quality, that is why different sorts of raw materials should be manufactured separately starting with the one having the lightest colour. The dark honeycombs should be soaked in water to remove not-containing wax components (honey, pollen, propolis). Otherwise while melting the wax emulsion is formed in the water reducing wax quality. Soft water is required for this purpose as hard water contains cations of some metals contributing to the emulsion formation. As wax contains uncombined fatty acids that react the metals of which the equipment is made and change the wax colouring (eg: iron colours wax in brown, zink-in dark-blue, copper - in green), that facilitates emulsion formation and deteriorates wax quality. So it is necessary to use technological equipment produced from non-corrosive materials, enamelled metals, aluminium, wood or ceramics. Water enulgated in wax is removed by long settling of melted wax. Water and not-containing wax components will fall out and the wax quality will be improved.

While melting raw wax materials again wax may store some insoluble admixtures. The coarse ones are removed by another melting in soft water and by settling of melted wax. The length of settling depends on the degree of wax pollution and its temperature. Very small admixtures that are commonly kept in wax by the forces of absorption and electrostatics are removed by adding of sulphuric and hydrochloric acids to melted was (5,0 - 30,0 cm3 per 10 kg of wax). Wax is carefully mixed with the acid and kept to mature in melted state. In some time it is washed several times in a cold boiled water. Dark wax gains yellow colouring. As the main part of wax is used for making beewax foundation there is a danger of desease spreading. According to the scientists opinion the spores of American and European "roters" and other pathogenic microorganisms are capable of viability for several years. So according to Protection and Elimination of Bees Infections Deseases Instruction wax intended for making beewax foundation is disinfected in autoclave for 2 hours at pressure of 2 atmospheres and 127 oC. If it is not possible to disinfect wax in autoclave, it can be used for technical needs only. Sterilization of wax, beewax and beewax foundation can be performed by gamma-rays irradiation using cobalt-60 or caesium-173 isotopes. Ways of wax sterilization by electromagnetic extra high frequency field are reported too. As shown by investigations wax in some cases may contain the larger amount of chlororganic insecticides that honey and pollen do, nevertheless they are less dangerous for bees, breed and a man.

Wax quality is sharply deteriorabed by intended adding of different admixtures to it. They undesirably change wax properties and that affects the quality of beewax foundation and excludes wax usage in medicine, perfume industry and some other branches of national economy.

Beewax withstands the atmospheric influence and does not need any special storage facilities. Wax is not liable to damage of moth that is common in raw wax materials. It retains its properties, content and quality under long storage and heating.

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English translation © Irina Yelsukova