How To Seal Bottles with Wax

Bottles of wax

Do you make your own wine, beer or mead? Did you know that you can seal your bottles with wax, as in the medieval days? It's very easy, and makes your bottles look exquisitely elegant.

Bottle sealing wax is the same kind of wax used for sealing letters -- although some prefer to use a wax that's a bit heavier -- and comes in a wide variety of colors. You can get it at any wine- or beer-making supply store. It comes in sticks (larger than the letter-sealing variety), and also comes in one-pound sacks of crumbled bits or beads. Both work exactly the same way, but the beads melt a little faster.

You can also get metal seal stamps exactly like the ones for letters; find one with your initial, or a symbol that pleases you. If your microbrewery really takes off, invest in a seal with your company's logo or personal design on it.

When you cork your bottles, leave about half an inch sticking up -- don't push them down flush with the top of the bottle. It looks fancier and more like the olden times.

Get the kind of wax and seal you want, plus a double boiler or a regular large cook pot with a small, clean tin coffee can. You will also need an apron, of course, and a pair of insulated work gloves (or maybe a set of wooden claw grabbers, especially if you're using the coffee can method). Safety goggles are also a good idea. Have a heat proof cutting board or work board next to the stove.

Fill the large pot with water and put it on the stove, bringing it to a medium boil. If you're using a double boiler, your wax goes into the small pot; if not, put it in the coffee can. Make it about two or three inches' worth, either way. Carefully place it in the center of the boiling water and wait for it to melt, stirring occasionally. It should take about fifteen minutes, perhaps a bit longer if you are using stick wax.

Remove the small pot or coffee can from the water and place it on the board. Turning your corked bottle upside down, dip it slowly and gently into the wax, keeping it as vertical as possible. Hold it there for a few seconds, then slowly pull it straight up and out. As you turn it back right side up, gently turn it so that the wax coating will be more even.

If you are using a seal stamp, wait for one or two seconds before applying it to the wax on top of the cork. Hold it there about five seconds and lift it gently off. This makes an elegant bottle seal.

Unused wax can be cooled and stored to be used later, as can any dribs and drabs you might leave lying around in the process.


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