I have some beeswax from when I had bees years ago. I am now interested in cleaning and using this for making a lotion. I read somewhere to use only a stainless steel pot or double boiler- is this right? I do not have a stainless steel double boiler but do have one of some other metal. Can I use it?
You don't have to use stainless steel for melting beeswax. The reason that stainless steel is recommended so often is because it will not discolor the beeswax, while certain other metals will.
For example, if you use a container that has iron, nickel or copper in it, the beeswax will probably be darkened. In addition to stainless steel, aluminum can be used without discoloring the wax. Enameled steel pots are also O.K.
If you're not sure about the composition of a container you're considering using, you could melt a very small amount of wax to see whether it is darkened.
If you're going to need to melt beeswax more frequently than just a time or two, I'd highly recommend this purpose-made product, or this one.
And you're right about using a double boiler.
Beeswax is very flammable, and also sensitive to excess heat. Using a double boiler will prevent hot spots from developing that could ignite or discolor the wax.
It's also best to always use electric heat for melting beeswax. Open flame and beeswax is a very dangerous combo. If some of the wax were to accidentally be spilled into the fire, you'd have an instantaneous raging inferno - almost akin to throwing gasoline on a fire.
And though I've never seen it happen (fortunately!), I've read that even the gases that can be emitted from beeswax when it gets too hot can be ignited by open flame, causing an explosion.
A properly grounded hotplate on the driveway, patio, or other open area is the safest (and easiest to clean) setup for melting beeswax.
Keep in mind, too, that beeswax can stick very tenaciously to the container it's melted in. So you might want to avoid using your best cookware for this project.
(You can go here to read more general info about beeswax.)
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