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.
Copyright 2006 Brad Walker.
All rights reserved.