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Old 09-21-2006, 07:09 PM
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Question Boiling wax?

I have seen some websites that talk about boiling wax and water to remove impurities from the wax. Just curious if anyone has tried it and if it works? One of the sites suggested boiling the wax in salt water.

OK, and another question, anyone ever try this cera colla cold wax paint? Th eweb link here tells how to make it. It basically sounds like a wax paint that you make at home with ammonia, water and wax and pigment. Then paint with it and after the water evaporates out you heat it up and fuze the wax. At least I think that's what he is saying. Sort of a cold encaustic technique. Sounds interesting.

http://www.realcolorwheel.com/ceracolla.htm
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Last edited by tubbekans : 09-21-2006 at 07:30 PM.
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Old 09-21-2006, 09:54 PM
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Mary Woodul Mary Woodul is offline
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Re: Boiling wax?

Paul, This is all very interesting! Just last week Andrew, (printmakerguy) commented on his clear wax method that ends up a white translucid color. He buys his wax in beads online. I can't do that because I can only get beeswax from the beekeepers and it is very yellowish due to the impurities. I will try this method tomorrow and let you know how it works. Andrew cautioned about not letting wax get over a certain temperature because it explodes but in boiling water I don't think the wax would get that hot. Pure wax is very important to get the right colors in your work. I have bookmarked the link also. I imagine it is the way the Egyptians created Encaustic Art.

Thank you for sharing this with us.
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Old 09-21-2006, 10:41 PM
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Re: Boiling wax?

Wow tommorow! I'd love to hear how it works out Mary. I was going to try it myself but I couldn't find my chunk of wax I stored around here somewhere. I don't think it would be a fire problem since the wax is melting in the water and can't get over the water boiling temperture. One of the web pages suggested putting vinger in the water to help separate the impurities out also. Then one of them said you could put cheesecloth on a wood frame and force the frame down under the surface of the water while the melted wax/water was still hot. Supposedly when the water cools off the wax will float up and through the cheesecloth filter and come out nice and clean. Sure sounds possible I guess.
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Old 09-22-2006, 12:44 AM
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Re: Boiling wax?

I'm still researching encaustics.. high purity bees wax is made by
forcing the hot wax through activated carbon filters. Other wax is
naturally bleached by spreading it thin and exposing it to the sun.

Here's a far out idea.. saltwater fish aquariums often use protein
skimmers to remove impurities from the water. In salt water the bubbles
concentrate the impurities. The bubbles are skimmed off and discarded.

Perhaps forcing air through liquid wax and skimming of the bubbles might
help purify the wax. Boiling water with wax sounds like a mess, but
the boiling water will make bubbles rise up through the wax. Look for scum
and scoop it out.
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Old 09-22-2006, 05:44 PM
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Re: Boiling wax?

Well I'm going to go look for some cheesecloth I had put away and I will let you all know how it worked.
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Old 09-22-2006, 07:27 PM
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Re: Boiling wax?

Well I didn't find my cheesecloth so I decided to go ahead and boil it and see what happened. My new chunk is not as impure as a previous chunk I had but I think this really works. I boiled a very small amount in a small pot and put a little vinegar in it.



This is my chunk although the top part is what looks impure and I just melted a little of it.



This is the top part after boiling.



This is the bottom part that shows some impurities that can be scraped off.
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Old 09-23-2006, 09:18 PM
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Re: Boiling wax?

I have been gone for a while- I am back on my ship now, so my internet access is somewhat limited!

First, be VERY CAREFUL about boiling wax!! When wax is that hot, it is very close to its flash point, which means it is EXPLOSIVE. Once it hits that point, it WILL BURN VIOLENTLY! Also, make sure that you have a fire extinquisher handy- Don't try to use water- it will make things worse.

Ok, now that Mr. Safety has paid a visit- Here is how you can 'clean up' your natural beeswax safely-

1) Melt lt in a double boiler. This is the only safe way- the water will not allow it to get hot enough to burn.

2) Pour it through a cheesecloth, folded over several times. This gets a LOT of the natural material out of it.

3) When you pour it into a container to harden, use one that is narrow and tall rather than flat (think a tall cylinder rather than a pie pan). The reason for this is that I find that the vast majority of impurities either float at the top, or sink to the bottom. If you put it in a tall, narrow container, you can just cut the top and bottom of the wax off, and toss it with the 'junk' that is in there. I hope that makes sense??

4) If you want it whiter, you can sun bleach it. There are chemical bleaching methods, too, but they are harsh and yellow over time. To sun bleach it, you will probably want to re melt it into thin sheets, as they will bleach faster. Nothing fancy is involved- just lay it out in the sun and wait. The results will be faster in a sunnier climate, In sunny Florida it is done in a matter of a week or so, or longer depending on how dark it is to begin with and how light I want it. It is going to take longer if you live somewhere with less direct and intense sun.

You may want to cover it somehow to keep dirt away- Plastic wrap works. Be careful with some plexiglass and glass materials, if they have any kind of UV inhibitor, they will keep the UV rays from doing their thing on the wax.

It can get wet- Let the rains come! Wax is, after all, waterproof!!

Hope this helps!!

-Andrew
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Old 09-23-2006, 09:44 PM
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Re: Boiling wax?

Thank you Andrew, this is very helpful and caution is never too much. I have seen just the narrow containers perfect for this down here in a market where they still sell a galvanized litre measure for pouring milk.

Have a safe trip on your ship!
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Old 09-23-2006, 11:05 PM
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Re: Boiling wax?

Thanks for the pics Mary, looks like something happened for sure. How did the water look after the boiling though? Did it pick up any color or grit from the wax? I am probably going to try this tommorow as I bought some wax today. I''ll try giving it a shot with some salt water since you tried the vinegear. My wax is not real dirty looking but is pretty yellow so I just want to see if it clears up any. Hmmm, a few more gotchas I forgot to mention before. One of the sites said to not use aluminum pans, although I don't know why, and another said to use a pot or pan that you don't mind not being able to cook with again. I guess cause it imight be difficult to get the wax out completely. I found some soy wax at the A.C.Moore today that is white. It was in the candle making area of the store and is cheaper than the beeswax. No idea if it is ok to use for art though.

The label on the beeswax I got today says it's 100% pure and free of impuirities. Then goes on to say it is so pure it may contain bees or parts of bees!

Andrew, good point about the temperature and possible fire. I think this method would avoid that problem as it is putting the wax into water and boiling it with the water. So, 212 degrees F is the max it should get to, as long as the water doesn't boil completely away. Definitley not something to leave on the stove and walk away from though. That could be dangerous. My block of wax label says if a fire starts to put a lid on the pan or throw baking soda on it, but no water.
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Old 09-23-2006, 11:54 PM
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Re: Boiling wax?

Yup- Smother the fire. That is the only way to put it out. I even went to firefighting school, so you can trust me

I will be putting together an article on how I prepare my Encaustic for the WC article system once I get off my ship again, as I need to make up a new batch anyway. I will take lots of pics and do a step by step as best as I can!

-Andrew
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Old 09-24-2006, 09:11 AM
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Re: Boiling wax?

I have been using some pots that I bought for this purpose. They are the ones that are covered with a porcelainized colored material. I can't remember the name in Enlgish. I have my chunk of wax in an old electric pan that I use only for that. In fact I never empty it. I spoon the wax into the muffin cups to put the color in.

I found this link that has some interesting answers. When I first started I had no one to guide me so I bought something callled Campeche Wax. I don't know if that is Carnuba wax but it is softer. The paintings finally did become hard about after a year. They are hanging in my house and what I like about this medium is that the intense colors are always so bright. I'm going to try clearing my wax today with some cheese cloth in a double boiler. We will have to compare Paul with the salt and the vinegar.

http://www.danielsmith.com/learn/inksmith/200504b/

Andrew and article from you would be very nice to have on WC.
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Old 09-24-2006, 06:24 PM
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Re: Boiling wax?

Andrew, that sounds great, an article would be very helpful. Hey, my sister went to firefiighting school also out in Colarado. Smallish world as they say.

Mary, I am using an enameled pot also. I think that's the word you are thinking about. Well, I tried the salt water boiling today. I think it was somewhat sucessful, although not a complete success. After boiling, the water has got a yellowish tint to it, so that had to come out of the wax. The wax itself is still a bit yellowish also, it didn't come out completely white. But I think it is whiter than before I started.

Here's what I did:

Put 1 and 1/2 quarts of water in the pot. That's somewhat over a litre of water.
Added 2 or 3 tablespoons of coarse Kosher salt.
Added 1/4 lb of beeswax.
Boiled until the chunks of wax melted. Then turned down to a low boil and put a lid on very loosely so it wouldn't seal it tight.
Let it boil on low for 1 and 1/2 hour.
Then I let it cool off before removing the wax. I washed the wax in tap water. Took a pic of the wax and the water to hopefully show the results. I don't know if you can see the yellow tint in the water. In person it is obvious, but the photo doesn't show it well.
The wax after boiling:

The salt water with yellow tint after boiling:
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Old 09-25-2006, 06:57 AM
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Re: Boiling wax?

Paul yes, that is the word that wouldn't come into my head , yesterday.

Your's turned out much whiter but I only boiled mine minutes and I guess I didn't give it a chance. I think I will try tu purify my whole chunk today with this method and in a double boiler. Maybe the Sea Salt does make a difference also. I will try to leave mine in the sun as it is very sunny here.

The water does show the impurtities.
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Old 09-25-2006, 08:47 AM
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Re: Boiling wax?

Hi Mary,

I was thinking I should have tried stirring it some after it was melted, but I don't know if that would help or not. I ended up making some cera cola yesterday too, and am starting to play around with that. I tried to follow the directions on the website but guess I did something a little different. Mine didn't foam up like Don Jusko's does. But it seems to work fine anyway. I'm going to write down what happened so maybe I will remember later on.

You are supposed to use equal amounts of ammonia water and wax. My wax is all in one big chunk, so I used a knife to scrape / peel off strips of wax. Then I put it in a coffee cup and used the knfie to cut it finer so it would lay flat in the cup. I ended up with about 1/4 cup of wax.
Then I mixed ammonia with water half and half to get a 1/4 cup of ammonia water.
Then melted the wax in a double boiler while also heating the ammonia water to boiling in another pan.
Added the ammonia water to the wax and stirred. This is where things seemed to be going wrong, although later I realised it wasn't so wrong, cause it worked.
The whole thing is supposed to foam up a lot when the ammonia water and wax are mixed together. That didn't happen. I stirred it for a bit and decided to get it cooled off faster since it probably wasn't any good (no foaming). I didn't want to stir it for the full 7 minutes if it wasn't going to work anyway. So I put the bottom of the pan in cold water and continued stirring. It cooled down pretty quick this way.
It ended up kind of like a 1/4 cup of milk. It was white and a little bubbly. I put it in a small contianer and waited a couple hours to see if the wax would separate out. It didn't!

So, I went ahead and tried it out on a nectarine painting. The painting itself is nothing great but the process is interesting. Really pretty easy so far. I took a little of the cera colla and put it in the well of a small watercolor palette. I put a few drops of liquid watercolor in the remaining wells. Then I dipped my bristle brush in the cera colla medium, and then in the watercolor I wanted to use. I used a coffee cup of ammonia water to thin the paint and clean the brushes. I used plain water to erase some color also. This all is going off the information on Don Jusko's website on how to use cera colla.

Anyway, here is the first attempt on watercolor paper. I have a new toy to play with!
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Old 09-25-2006, 09:24 AM
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Re: Boiling wax?

tubbekans:
The method you used with the nectarines gives color in the painting an exciting look! It's something to look into! Thanks for all the steps taken!!
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