Extracting Honey from the Wax Comb

Honey is a complicated thing. I don’t much want to think about how it’s made, because it will destroy my fantasy of happy bees making liquid sunshine while clover and wildflowers wave nearby in a fragrant breeze.

Honey comb in plastic clamshell containers. I brought it home from Wisconsin. Security did not tell me it was a liquid and confiscate it. I am grateful.

I purchased two squares of honeycomb from a beekeeper. The honey that’s taken from a honeycomb tastes better (to me) than honey that’s been strained, boiled, and pasteurized. When we were both younger, my brother concocted a taste test, and both of us could easily detect the comb honey taste. I remember saying it tastes like wax candles.

Use a sharp, clean knife and do not press, but slice, the honey comb.

Honey may taste better fresh from the comb, but you have to get it out of the comb first. Eating the comb along with the honey is not a joy for me. But how to get the honey out? First, cut the comb in half so you have two flat squares. That opens all the compartments.

Pieces of comb in strainer, in pot.

Next, place the compartments, face down, in a strainer and put the strainer in a deep enough cooking pot to allow the honey to drip through the strainer. The room should be about 80 degrees to let the honey flow freely. Do not put the honey outside in the summer to warm it up faster. The phrase “you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar” was invented by someone who tried that.

You can turn the oven on “warm” for 10 minutes and then slide the pot and strainer in. Do not leave the kitchen while the honey is in the oven. Your spouse will come along and turn the oven on 350 degrees. This will melt the wax into the honey where it was before, and also the plastic handle of the strainer onto the pizza stone you keep in the oven.

Burned strainer handle melted onto pizza stone.

If this does happen, leave the strainer in the pot and place the pot on a trivet until the whole mess cools down, about two hours. Once the pot is no longer hot to the touch, put in the the fridge, complete with strainer, for an hour.

Do not roll your eyes or say, “I told you the pot was in the oven,” because this will not un-ruin the pizza stone. One of the secrets to a long marriage is not saying everything you think.

Removing what’s left of the strainer will leave a bottom-of-the-strainer size hole in the wax.

When the wax is cool, but before the honey hardens in the fridge, pull the strainer containing the was impurities out of the pot, skim the wax off the honey (if the honey is stiff, this won’t work) and rinse off the wax to make a candle.

Success!

Decant the honey into a small container and enjoy it on hot toast, cold yogurt, or in tea.

-Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach and still married to KentCooks, whose pizza stone got ruined in the process of extracting the honey from the wax. The link to his website will take you to a yummy recipe for salmon with fruit salsa.