29 August 2013

Beeswax Products from Los Brujos

Winter is a time of inside activities, preferably by the warmth of a fire, and like all energy practices, we enjoy maximizing the use of that heat for multiple functions. This year the girls attended a series of workshops on transforming beeswax and honey into specialty products, meaning our woodstove became a center of melting down beeswax to filter out residues and impregnating oils with herbal properties. The workshops were conducted by CET in Yumbel, an organization dedicated to teaching artisan skills and practices, especially among the Chilean rural community with techniques that are easy to replicate using common materials. For example, a simple technique for filtering wax uses hot water, a burlap sack, and a hinged pair of wooden paddles. The wax and residues are placed in the sack, set to soak in the hot water to reach melting temperature upon which we squeeze the hot wax out with the wooden paddles, allowing the wax to settle in the water, the impurities left behind in the sack. Once cooled, the wax naturally forms a disc on the water's surface, ready for use in recipes.

Christine returned especially enthused, making quick work of filling the house with many staked containers of various products: lip balm, massage oil, salves, body lotions, and honey infusions in which our honey is impregnated with vitamins from fruit peels or with the beneficial properties of different herbal leaves. All of our products are natural and most of the ingredients come right from our forest, where we are learning the properties of different native plants and how to concentrate their potency in sunflower oil or honey. Importantly the beeswax we use in our products is virgin wax that our bees actually produce, not just melting down the standard wax typically recycled in the stamped combs used to start frames, which is commonly known to be filled with contaminants, including the antibiotics and chemicals that large scale beekeepers regularly douse their hives with or the standard practice of mixing petroleum with the wax to increase the amount of wax available. So our beeswax and our products concentrate on healthy healing, not quantity. Of course all of this production has kept me very busy drawing up labels for each new recipe with mini-illustrations of calendula flowers, matico and radal leaves, images of lavender and rosemary and of course the bees themselves as we expand our Los Brujos line of products. We are seeking permission to have a stand at the Saturday farmer's market in Valdivia and hope to soon begin selling and sharing our products so others can also enjoy the pleasure of natural beeswax and honey infused with healing properties. In the meantime, the shelves fill with our experiments, our friends giving us positive feedback as we find more ways to produce our own healing from the forest which surrounds us.

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