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Steaming Wax from Molds

Click here for basic information about the lost wax casting process.

In the lost wax casting process, it's possible to remove wax from a mold by heating it in the kiln, but it's usually preferable to use steam to do the job. 

Steaming wax from a mold has several advantages over techniques that involve heating the wax-filled mold in the kiln.  For starters, steaming is far safer than heating in a kiln; when steam is used, there is almost no chance of catching the wax on fire. Secondly, steaming wax out of a mold is usually much faster than heating it in a kiln.  And finally, steaming usually does a better job of reaching all of the smaller crevices of the mold.

There are a number of ways to steam wax from molds, ranging from home-made "Rube Goldberg" setups to more straightforward approaches that use specialized equipment.  Starting with the simplest approach, here are several techniques that can work well.

1.  The most basic setup involves the use of a large pan with water in it.  Cover the pan with hardware cloth (heavy duty wire mesh, available at hardware stores), set the mold with open side down on the hardware cloth, and then heat the pan so that steam rises into the mold.  For best results, cover the area of the hardware cloth that isn't covered by the mold.  It also helps to use a separate burner ("hotplate"), rather than the top of the kitchen stove.

2.  Another alternative is to use a tea kettle or pressure cooker with a copper or plastic tube to channel the steam to the piece.  (Plastic tubing is easiest to set up.)  If you use this approach, take care that the equipment you use is dedicated to steaming wax from molds. Once you've used a pan, a teapot, or other item for steaming wax, it should never be used for cooking.  This second approach also works best when done out of the kitchen using a  hotplate (sometimes called a "5th burner").

Click here for more suggestions on ways to steam wax from a mold.

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Copyright 2006 Brad Walker.  All rights reserved.

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Copyright 2005-2006 by M. Bradley Walker.  All rights reserved.

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