Dictionarium polygraphicum. Wax.

Dictionarium Polygraphicum:
Or, The Whole Body of Arts Regularly Digested.
Vol II.
London: Printed for C. Hitch and C. Davis in Pater-noster Row, and S. Austen in St. Paul's Church Yard. MDCCXXXV.
WAX is a soft, yellowish matter, whereof the bees form their cells to receive their honey.

Wax is not the excrement of the bee, as the ancients and many of the moderns have imagined.

It is properly a juice exuding out of the leaves of plants, and adhering to the surface of them; from off which the bees scrape it with their rough thighs, to build their combs with it.

It is chiefly afforded by lavender and rosemary; from which last anyone may gather wax, and by the help of a microscope, the wax may be plainly seen sticking to the leaves of the plant.

Naturalists have generally imagin'd, that wax is gather'd from the flower; some from the Petala, and others from the apices: but Boerhaave affirms, that it is a juice peculiar to the leaves, and not afforded by the flowers, which only yield honey.

The wax is a hard substance, and gathered only with the forelegs and chaps; convey'd thence to the middle legs, and thence to the middle joint of the hind legs, where there is a small cavity, like the bowl of a spoon, to receive it, and where it is collected into heaps, of the shape and size of lentils.

When the bee is arriv'd ac his hive with his load of wax, it finds some difficulty in unburthening himself of so tenacious a matter; and frequently being unable to lay it down himseif, he calls for assistance by a particular motion of his legs and wings: whereupon a number of his companions immediately run to his help, and each with his jaws taking off a small quantity of the wax, others succeeding in their place, 'till they have quite disburthened their loaden fellow.

There are two kinds of wax, white and yellow; the yellow is the native wax, just as it comes out of the hive, after it has been discharg'd of the honey, &c. and the white is the seme wax, only purified, wash'd, and expos'd to the air.

The preparation of yellow Wax.

To procure the wax from the combs for use, after the ho ney has been separated from it, all the matter that remains is put into a large kettle, with a sufficient quantity of water; and it being melted by a moderate fire, it is strained through a linnen cloth in a press; and before it is cold, it is scumm'd with a tile, or a piece of wet wood; and while it is yet wartn, cast in wooden, earthen, or metalline moulds, they having been first anointed with honey, oil, or water, to prevent the wax from sticking to them.

Some in purifying it make use of Roman vitriol, or copperas; but the true secret is to melt, scum it, &c. properly without any ingredients at all.

The fæces, or dregs remaining in the bag, after the bag has been press'd out, is us'd by surgeons, farriers, &c.

The whitening of wax.

This whitening, or blanching of wax, is perform'd by reducing the yellow sort first into little bits or grains, which is done by melting it, and casting it, while hot, into cold water; or else by spreading it into very thin leaves or skins.

This wax, having been thus granulated or flatted, is expos'd to the air on linnen cloths; where it lies night and day, having equally need of sun and dew.

Then it is mekedand granulated over again several times, laying it out to the air in the inrervals between the meltings.

At length the sun and dew having perfectly blanch'd it, it is melted for the last time in a large kettle; and laded out of the kettle with a ladle, upon a table covered over with little round dents or cavities, of the form of the cakes of white wax, usually sold in apothecary's shops; those moulds having been first wet ted with cold water, that the wax may be got off the easier.

Lastly, they lay these cakes out into the air for two days and two nights, to render it the more transparent, and drier.

This wax is us'd in making candles, tapers, flambeaux, torches, and for various other purposes.

Yellow wax is made soft with turpentine, yet retains its natural colour.

Red Wax is only the white melted with turpentine, and made red with vermilion, or orcanette.

Burnt paper, or lamp-black, makes it black, and verdigrease makes it green.

Some travellers inform us, that there is a natural black wax; affirming, that there are bees both in the East and West-Indies, which make an excellent honey, included in black cells. And that of this wax it is, that the Indians make those little vases, wherein they gather their balsam of Tolu.

Virgin Wax, call'd also Propolis, is a sort of reddish wax us'd by the bees to stop up the clefts or holes of their hives. It is apply'd, just as it is taken out of the hive, without any art or preparation of boiling, &c. it is the most tenacious of any, and is held good for the nerves.

Sealing wax, Spanish wax Is a composition of gum lacca, melted and prepar'd with rosin and chalk, and coloured red with ground cinnabar.

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