One of the greatest challenges of rendering beeswax is to do it in a manner that melts it but does not overheat it. The other big one, is melting it in a safe and controlled manner. I may have found one of my new favorite methods; using an electric smoker.
This idea stems from a few other ideas. In the past I had used what some folks call a roaster oven. It's a small electric over normally used for baking a turkey or serving large portions of soup or whatever at an occasion. This worked OK, but I was really limited on capacity to stock beeswax into it.
I started thinking again, and was debating just shoving a bunch of wax in the oven in the house. I thought however that my wife my kick me out for that one, and also the over only goes down to about 250F, much too high for what's needed to melt beeswax. That's when the smoker dawned on me.
Now the fact that it's a smoker is irrelevant. I'm not smoking anything. It's really just an upright electric oven with a lower temperature control. But there are several dual purpose components that make it great. The bowl normally used for water/wood chips works great as a water/wax catch basin. The racks where you would put the meat can support plenty of weight for a big chunk of wax or a bowl to ride on.
I wanted to use this for a final melt method to separate out low gravity contaminants that are close to the same density as beeswax and therefore won't fall out in a water melt method. This means the wax has to be pressed or strained through some filter. Just dumping molten wax through a paper towel at room temp will result in rapid cooling and a lot of lost wax in the filter.
So for the test setup, I put an inch or so of water in my bowl, then placed on the rack to hold up the strainer. The only reason I'm using the strainer is so wax can drain out, so a colander or just a bowl with hole in the bottom will be sufficient. I laid a paper towel in the bottom of the strainer, then a chunk of beeswax which had been previously rendered and rough filtered in a water bath.
I cranked the smoker up to high and walked away. After about 10 minutes I could see the wax was started to get soft. It's working! After about 20 minutes I noticed my water was boiling. Oops! Too hot! So I turned it down. Unfortunately my smoker has a temp gauge that reads "cool, ideal, or hot". WTH does that mean!? Give me some numbers! It was reading it was still "cool" but clearly it was warm enough to boil water.
After about 12 hrs, the ~3 lb block of wax I had placed in had all melted down into the bowl of water, leaving only a black sludge of dirt and debris on the paper towel in the bowl. I shut it down to cool over night and the next day pulled out my very nice clean block of pure beeswax. The dirty saturated paper towel was burned just for fun, but I'd honestly advise saving these somewhere as a handy fire starter if you ever need.
Now as a second test, I tried stacking in a pile of combs, not yet rendered down in a water bath. It seems to be working OK, but requires babysitting to continue mashing the combs down as they soften and adding more. And all the debris in the combs smells like it's cooking/burning.
Forward looking is leaning towards a primary melt in a water bath to filter out large solids, then a final melt/filter in the smoker. With a block of pure condensed wax, now I can melt again, and cast into weighted blocks or 1 oz, 1 lb, etc for sale or for reuse in recipes. I'll also keep a large block handy for use when melting a large batch to rewax plastic foundation or for "gluing" wax foundation starter strips to frames.