Wax Removal

Oven Method

 

This simple method is not only the oldest, but also probably the simplest.  The center of any old, traditional Ukrainian house was the піч/pich (“peech”), the large, usually decorated stove that occupied a large part of any peant’s house.  It was not only used for cooking and baking, but served as a source of heat and was a nice, warm place to sleep in cold weather.  Below you can see examples of such stoves from various regions of Ukraine: 


A large, traditional pich from Kyivshchyna; note the lovely decorations (rozpys) and the pillow on the sleeping shelf



A traditional Hutsul pich, covered with ceramic tiles (cream colored with brown, yellow and green designs)



A very simple, unadorned pich from the northern forests of Polissya


As I’ve noted before, a small bowl of wax would be placed in a pile of embers from the pich to warm and melt it.  Once the pysanky had been written, they would be placed in a bowl, and into the pich, and the wax allowed to melt off.  The pysankarka would then wipe the eggs with a cloth to remove the melted wax.

According to Voropay, the cloth with which the pysanky are wiped had magical properties.  It would be saved, and would later be used to smoke out (fumigate) erysipelas, a particularly nasty streptococcal skin disease.

How can we use the oven today?  It’s quite easy. Turn on your oven, and set the heat on its lowest setting.  Place your finished pysanky in the oven, either on a drying rack, or on a cookie sheet.  If using a cookie sheet, line it with a layer of paper towels to absorb the wax.  Paper won’t burn at low temperatures1.

When the wax gets glossy, remove the pysanky from the oven and wipe them clean with a soft cloth, tissue or sheet of paper towel.  If a lot of wax remains, you can repeat the process.  If only a very small amount of wax remains, you can choose to remove it, instead, with GooGone, Goof Off, or another household solvent.

Although it seems counterintuitive, this is actually a safe way to remove wax from full eggs.  Unless you bake them at a high temperature, or a long period of time, they won’t cook.  Traditional pysanky weren’t emptied,so this was not a concern.  If you are planning to blow out your pysanky after removing wax, this method should still work for you.  You might try cleaning a test egg first just to make sure.

And, for your viewing pleasure, Mike at ATU shows how he uses an oven to remove wax from a pysanka.  Start watching at the 6:10 mark.
















Another take on this method is by Valentyna, here, who empties her eggs before removing the wax:

















(Note: rinsing out the eggs a few times with water, and then letting them dry properly, gets rid of the problem of smelly egg residue.  That is why I empty after removing wax, and not before.)


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1.  People of my generation, and Ray Bradbury fans, know full well that paper burns at Fahrenheit 451.



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Removing the Wax in an Oven