I've had a number of requests asking how I wax dipped my 120 Minute Clone bottles, but I haven't made a batch worth aging for some time. Thankfully, my recent American Stout turned out fantastic, so I decided to set aside a six pack for a little while. I figured this was a good opportunity to do a step by step walk through on how I wax dipped the bottles.
What most everyone is after is that Maker's Mark 'look'. Sadly, we can't achieve that through paraffin, candle, or crayon wax alone. If you choose to go with a 100% wax mixture, you'll end up with something similar to New Glarus' wax dipped bottles -- which are very nice, but aren't quite what we're after. The trick to the Marker's Mark look is some plastic, which is easy to add with hot glue sticks.
I like to use crayons for the wax component, as they are dirt cheap, and come in tons of colors. Feel free to blend them, as it works just fine. The important thing to remember is the wax to hot-glue ratio.
3 Mini Hot Glue Sticks : 1 Crayon
Make sure to use the mini glue sticks, as they are easier to work with and melt faster. If you can only find the full-size glue sticks, note that they contain a pinch over twice as much hot glue per stick.
The next step is to strip the labels from the crayons. The easiest way to do this is to this is to cut the label straight down the center.
Next you need a find a container to melt them in, preferably one you don't care about. Empty soup or soda cans work great. I was making a smaller batch, hence the half-can. The mixture melts faster and more evenly if you break the crayons and chop up the glue sticks. Although, it works either way.
Now we come to the interesting part: Heat. Gas ranges work well, but you'll need to be careful not to burn yourself. Electric ranges really don't work at all, as a double boiler won't get hot enough (212F.) I've found the best method for me is the oven (or toaster oven). Just set it on 350*, place the can inside, and stir it every 10 minutes or so. After about a half hour (and some judicious stirring,) you'll have a nice even mixture.
Finally we come to the fun part, the dipping! This takes some practice to get down, but after a few bottles, you'll get the hang of it. Dip the bottle fully into the can, and quickly pull it out. I immediately give it a quick twist, flip it upright, and set it down for the wax to drip down and dry. Although the wax takes a few minutes to dry, it'll 'set up' within seconds, so if you want wax to run down the side of the bottle, you need to work fast. The wax will cool off some, so every 6-10 bottles, you'll need to pop it back into the oven for a few minutes. If all goes well, you should have some beautifully coated bottles.
Three things to wrap up. First, this is purely cosmetic. Don't expect the wax to provide an oxygen barrier or anything like that. This is all about presentation, and it's a great way to finish that 'special' batch. Secondly, these are a bitch to remove. You typically need to use a knife to get a cut started, which you can then rip off. And lord help you if you try to remove them when the wax is ice cold. Finally, please be careful doing this. We're heating wax and hot glue to 350*. Yes it will burn if you drip on your skin. Wear gloves or something.