Wax Experimentation

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cassady
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Wax Experimentation

Post by cassady » Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:26 pm

I came home today to find this on my front porch:

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Why the package in a bag, I wondered. Perhaps because the postman was worried that it might rain? No, unfortunately not. It was in a bag because, evidently, the contents had leaked.

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(there is a little pile of stuff in the bag). And it was sticky! Evidently, the contents had been poorly packed by the supplier, and the bag had burst in transit.

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But oh, those lovely contents:

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Five pounds of pine gum resin! Let the experimentation begin!!

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Given the nature of the recent swap, I thought it would be most interesting to start my waxperimentation with something appropriate... http://www.flymphforum.com/viewtopic.ph ... wax+recipe

Chapter 3 - Wax

Waxes for fly tying are like hook - there are all kinds. The wax which I have found to be entirely satisfactory is made according to an old recipe of L. Harrington Keene's as follows:

Melt one half pound of the best white turpentine resin


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add one ounce of pure white beeswax

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which should be paired off or chopped up into small pieces.

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Simmer for fifteen minutes, allowing it to melt and mix thoroughly with the resin.

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I waited for the mixture to melt and begin come together / simmer before I began the timer. It actually melted quite quickly. The above picture was about two minutes on low; that below was after four or so.

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A close up of the melting rosin. It's really striking beautiful stuff.

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Once I got to this stage:

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I began the timer

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A note on this stage: I turned up the heat somewhat to be sure the mixture was actually simmering... and there was a considerable amount of piney smoke. I am not sure if the smoke was a necessary side effect -- that is, if it needed to be truly simmering and thus smoking, or if keeping it under a simmer, and thus less smokey would have been just as effective. Further testing will tell, I suppose. But the smoke was rather substantial:

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(Although it looks like there's a fire, it's just the setting sun). I went downstairs to my daughter's bathroom and borrowed something (she's off at college and won't miss it).

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And of course, I had this:

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As he says later, when stirring this simmering wax remember that it is extremely inflammable and therefore dangerous.

Now add one half ounce of fresh lard I didn't have lard, but I have it on good authority that Crisco works just as well.

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stir slowly while the mixture simmers just below the boiling point for another fifteen minutes

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Time's up!

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Pour this liquid into a basin of water.

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Do not touch it until it has had a chance to cool because your fingers will be badly burned.

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After it has cooled enough to permit handling, pull at it and work with it, as taffy pullers do with taffy, until it has a light colour and even texture.

It's best to put on a video of something you've been wanting to watch, because the pulling will take some time.

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Stretch it like taffy: stretch, twist, fold. Repeat. Then repeat again. And so on.

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Roll it into pieces about the size of hickory nuts, wrap them in wax paper and store in a cool place.

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I'll be honest, here. I'm a city boy, and I had to look up the size of hickory nuts. And found that there are several kinds, and several sizes. So I ball parked it.

Some interesting things and initial thoughts:

Here is some of the stretched (below) and unstretched (above - more honey colored) wax.

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I was surprised by how sensitive to temperature this stuff is. While I was rolling it, if I rolled it too long, it became quite sticky and hard to deal with. This led to a tar baby situation -- until i figured out that I could run the sticky ball under the faucet, running cold water, for a minute or two and it would become manageable again. I would suggest that making the wax on a quite hot (low 80s F) and muggy night was a poor choice -- it'd probably be a lot easier on a cool fall night (when one could still have the windows open, if one chose that path).

When I realized that, I put the big lump into the freezer briefly while I rolled out a 'hickory-nut-sized ball,' only to find that in less than five minutes or so, the wax had, essentially crystallized.

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Once out of the freezer, however, it quickly thawed and became quite workable.

I haven't had a chance to work with this on flies yet -- but it seems like it's quite good stuff -- relatively good resistance to the temperature, quite tacky. It's relatively light colored, so I suspect that it won't color any but the lightest color thread -- although that remains to be seen to be sure.

Before I poured the mixture into the water for cooling, I poured a small amount directly into a silicone mold, which then went into the freezer for cooling. I'm curious about the properties of the unpulled vs. the pulled and finished wax.

Other notes: I subbed natural beeswax for white beeswax, Crisco for lard, and I'm not sure if what I have is 'the best white turpentine resin.' At a future date, I will try this recipe with white beeswax to see how significant the color difference is -- and if it has any effect on coloring/not coloring the thread. I'll also probably wear gloves next time when pulling the wax, as it did get sticky for a while (although that led to the discovery of the significant effect of a slight decrease in temperature, from the cool water).

I will try these out at the vice shortly, and let you know how everything turned out. And then we'll try a different recipe.

Thanks for following along.
Mataura mayfly
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Re: Wax Experimentation

Post by Mataura mayfly » Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:43 pm

:D :lol: :lol: :D
Brilliant!
I cannot remember a thread post I have enjoyed more in recent times.
Fraught with danger, kind of Coyote and ACME written all over it......... brilliant!! The room full of smoke is the perfect example of why not to try these "experiments" in the better half's kitchen. The fact you did not panic..... or contemplate lighting a cigarette to sit and ponder the situation..... priceless. Wonderful thought process to even think of the window mounted extractor fan, even if a little late.
All that really bought a smile (not to mention the odd fit of laughter) to my face, but the fact the USPS didn't dob you into the local boys in blue to keep an eye on your leaking lumps of crystallised home bake materials, that is truly priceless!

Hope it turns out to be the best dammed wax ever, you deserve it. :D
"Listen to the sound of the river and you will get a trout".... Irish proverb.
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William Anderson
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Re: Wax Experimentation

Post by William Anderson » Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:59 pm

This is fantastic. Exactly what I needed. What a great post. I'll be coming back to this often and for weeks. Thanks so much!
"A man should not try to eliminate his complexes, but rather come into accord with them. They are ultimately what directs his conduct in the world." Sigmund Freud.
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fly_fischa
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Re: Wax Experimentatione

Post by fly_fischa » Thu Aug 29, 2013 3:25 am

What a fantastic post, I thoroughly enjoyed the journey, feels like I was there. I'm with Jeff in that I hope it turns out to be the best batch of wax ever, you deserve it. We live in a one bedroom apartment and I can just see myself undertaking a similar venture after a few too many scotches, as long as the wife is away on a business trip. Fraught with danger, but fun.

Thanks again :)
tjd
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Re: Wax Experimentation

Post by tjd » Thu Aug 29, 2013 5:01 am

Good show, Chris!

That makes some of my adventures seem pretty tame.

Great tutorial and photo essay!

Best,

Tim
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letumgo
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Re: Wax Experimentation

Post by letumgo » Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:12 am

Fantastic!!!
Ray (letumgo)----<°))))))><
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chase creek
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Re: Wax Experimentation

Post by chase creek » Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:37 am

I think the identity of the Mad Scientist has finally been revealed! Great post! But you know - you are on the post office list of questionable customers now.
Thanks for posting your adventures.
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narcodog
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Re: Wax Experimentation

Post by narcodog » Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:21 am

To reduce the possibility of fire you should melt that stuff in a double boiler. That way you will be able to control the temperature easier.
"I like beer, do you like beer, I like beer a lot."
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tie2fish
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Re: Wax Experimentation

Post by tie2fish » Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:52 am

Excellent tutorial. Thank you.
Some of the same morons who throw their trash around in National parks also vote. That alone would explain the state of American politics. ~ John Gierach, "Still Life with Brook Trout"
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hankaye
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Re: Wax Experimentation

Post by hankaye » Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:15 am

cassady, Howdy;

As with the others, I agree that you have given me a good chuckle with the
"Morning Coffee", Great tutorial and excellent choice in videos. Looking forward
to the results of how well the wax works.

hank
Striving for a less complicated life since 1949...
"Every day I beat my own previous record for number
of consecutive days I've stayed alive." George Carlin
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