The 6 Best Oxalic Acid Vaporizers for Bees, Reviewed
You can treat your Varroa mite-infested hive in 20 seconds as long as you have $485 to spare.
Too much? Don’t worry. We have other cheaper but equally durable options for you. Our best oxalic acid vaporizer choice lets you permanently eliminate those unwanted hive tenants and save your honeybee colony from collapsing. All that while preventing a disastrous apiary fire.
So, grab a jar of bee-grade oxalic acid and put your protective gear on. Here are the six best oxalic acid vaporizers in the market today.
- 6 Best Oxalic Acid Vaporizers For Varroa Mite Treatment
- Your Guide To Buying The Best Oxalic Acid Vaporizers
6 Best Oxalic Acid Vaporizers For Varroa Mite Treatment
Hunting down the best oxalic acid vaporizer for sale? We’ve narrowed down the list of oxalic vaporizers for you.
We considered a good mix of function, safety, and of course, price point. A buying guide is also available at the end of our review.
Let’s start our oxalic acid vaporizer reviews with the most budget-friendly oxalic acid vaporizer option – the Varomrous Oxalic Acid Vaporizer. Just like other oxalic acid vaporizers on our list, it sports a wand-type design configuration. But don’t be fooled by its affordable $60 price tag. It doesn’t skimp out on durability and efficiency.
Instead of using cheap metal, it is constructed from super-strong aluminum – yup, the same material used in aircraft. The choice of material makes a lot of sense since you’ll subject it to repeated heating. You wouldn’t want an oxalic acid vaporizer that would melt halfway through the treatment, right?
Aside from its rock-solid, heavy-duty construction, the Varomrous Oxalic Acid Vaporizer is beginner-friendly. Novice apiarists just need to put the recommended amount of oxalic acid crystals in the heating element groove, hook up the alligator clips to a car battery, and wait for it to start smoking.
The whole device is just under a pound and has a 4.5ft long cord, making it effortless to carry and maneuver while treating your hives.
Obviously, since this is the budget pick, there will be some trade-offs, particularly on the oxalic acid vaporization.
You’ll need to extend your patience because it takes about a minute for the glow plug and metal plate to heat thoroughly. And it takes another 2-3 minutes to vaporize the standard 1 gram of oxalic acid.
Also, you’ll have to leave the wand inside until it is slightly cooled to make sure the oxalic acid crystals are all gone. So that takes a few more minutes. Plus, the only heat protection you have for this wand is the wooden handle.
To sum it up, this $60 oxalic acid vaporizer offers the best value for money, but only for beekeepers with fewer beehives. If you have more than ten hives to treat, you’re better off with other models.
From $60, let’s jump to an oxalic acid vaporizer that is eight times more expensive – $485 to be exact (as of writing).
Yes, we know. That’s a hefty chunk out of your wallet. But let’s make sense of the outrageous price, shall we? I mean, there is a reason why this vaporizer has an almost perfect 5-star rating on Amazon.
First of all, it’s not your typical wand-type oxalic acid vaporizer. It looks more like those gun-like meters cops use to see if you’re speeding. But instead of measuring speed, it shows you how hot the heating element is. And it compares it to the safe temperature limit.
But what sets this oxalic acid vaporizer apart from other models in our list is the heating mechanism. Bear with me here because a lot of science and ingenuity goes into the design.
Instead of a plate, you heat a whole copper cylinder with an aluminum bottom. Those two superheat conductors maintain the heat and vaporize oxalic acid fast – treatment only takes 20 seconds. That’s way less toxic fumes to inhale!
Things just get more efficient from there. You don’t need to lug around a heavy battery through your apiary. Just plug the cord into a regular power outlet, and you’re good to go. Plus, since you have extra caps, you can just prepare them ahead of time and breeze through treating your bee colonies. The only thing you need to worry about is drilling a small hole to fit the vaporizing stem.
Let’s be realistic, are all those benefits worth almost $500? Probably not for the average beekeeper. BUT if you manage 20 or more hives or run a commercial bee farm, this will save you thousands of dollars in the long run. Imagine all the hives collapsing because you couldn’t treat the mite problem fast enough?
All things considered, this premium pick is a highly efficient tool with a stellar, glowing record for oxalic acid vapor treatment. If you have the extra cash, get it. You can rest assured that the quality and performance will be worth every penny.
Okay, now let’s get to the best oxalic acid vaporizer that beekeepers buzz about the most. Scott Bee Farm is pretty much an institution in the beekeeping world. So when they released their line of oxalic acid vaporizers, of course, people tried it out.
What set’s this vaporizer apart from the rest is the heat shield attached below the heating element. This added safety feature can save your hive. Imagine the temperature of the heating pan gets up to 250°C. That can quickly start a fire if you didn’t notice wax at the bottom of your hive.
The heat shield lowers the surface temp down to about 145°C. Big difference, right? You can totally use this vaporizer on those plastic hives without burning them down. Plus, its battery clips are soldered.
But another thing great about this oxalic acid vaporizer is the convenience. It comes with a 12-feet cord, so you can just put your battery source within range and go about treatment. One thing that would be cool to have, though, is a switch. Some people don’t appreciate the extra leg work when you disconnect the battery, especially if it is far away.
Pro tip: Use a jump-start instead. It makes your life so much easier!
Overall, Scott Bee Farm Beekeepers Oxalic Acid Vaporizer is our top choice because you get added safety and convenience at a reasonable price of $130. Plus, they throw in a measuring spoon and timer in the package. Who doesn’t love freebies, right?
We’re done giving out awards. But we still have notable mentions for oxalic acid vaporizers. Let’s start with the slightly lower par version of our top pick. Still made by Scott Bee Farm, the oxalic acid vaporizer v.03.25 is another good option for small-scale beekeepers.
But what makes it different from the top pick?
Instead of a rounded handle, this Scott Bee Farm oxalic acid vaporizer model sports a rectangular one, offering you a wider area to hold. It’s not comfortable, but it’s a sensible choice if you have butterfingers.
Another difference is the heat shield – it doesn’t have one. So you have to take extra care handling the heating element. And make sure you put it on a dry surface with no flammable bee’s wax. It also doesn’t come with a timer. You’ll need to bust out your phone’s stopwatch to measure the duration of vaporization.
The cord still runs 12 feet long from whatever battery you use. The CNC machined pan and soldered battery clips remain for this Scotts Bee Farm model. But we still wish for a switch, guys.
All in all, you get the benefits of a durable American-made oxalic acid vaporizer for under $100. As long as you don’t have many beehives to vaporize, one unit is a good buy.
You might think, “oh, I’ve seen one wand-type oxalic acid vaporizer. I’ve seen them all.”
Buddy, you’re mistaken. The unit by KDO has the aluminum heating plate on one side of the wand, sort of like a flag on a pole. The off-centered design allows the electrical wiring to pass straight into the plate, heating it faster than using a glow plug.
The glow plug is like a middleman. You go to him to get things for you. But if you take out the middleman and go straight to the source, things get done way faster.
In this case, it takes 3 minutes to heat the pan AND vaporize the oxalic acid. Others take 2-3 minutes to heat the plate and another 2 minutes to vaporize the crystals. See, a little ingenuity goes a long way in saving time.
Aside from cutting back treatment time, this vaporizer also saves you from wasting vapor. It comes with a metal bracket that attaches to the wand rod. It seals up the hive entrance, so you don’t need a makeshift blocking device to keep your honey bees and the acid vapor inside the hive. Since it’s adjustable, you can stick the wand as far in as you need it to go.
But this vaporizer is not perfect. One significant consideration for getting this oxalic acid vaporizer is the length of the power cord. At 1.6 feet long, you need a portable battery to go with this unit.
Luckily, this unit only operates at 150 watts. So you can do a couple of treatments before your portable battery runs out of juice. Besides, getting a portable battery isn’t bad, considering the KDO vaporizer is only 35 bucks!
Do you know the best thing about beekeepers designing products? They know how to address specific issues that other large-scale companies don’t.
This brings us to a South Carolina-made unit. The Blythewood company made an affordable oxalic acid vaporizer that works on all types of beehives.
This oxalic acid vaporizer design is similar to the KDO unit – it too doesn’t use a glow plug. But what sets this apart from the rest is the holding capacity and how thin the plate is.
It’s the best choice for the Flow Hive 2, which has a very narrow beehive entrance. Rats can’t get inside. But that also means that most other oxalic acid vaporizers can’t fit either. Let me tell you, if your vaporizer fits into a Flow Hive 2 entrance, it will work with any other hive.
At 1.75 inches, the Blythewood oxalic acid vaporizer has the thinnest heating pad. And it fits perfectly inside the Flow Hive 2’s narrow entrance, WITH CLEARANCE.
A drawback is that it takes a few minutes longer than the other units to heat up and complete the treatment. The thinner plate means less thermal mass to maintain a high temperature. Couple that with a two teaspoon capacity plate; well, you’re bound to wait a while treating a big hive alone.
Getting a few more units makes up for the time and makes it a more efficient process. And hey, costing less than $40 means you can get more units for the price of one of the others.
With the Blythewood oxalic acid vaporizer, you get a reasonable price for a one-size-fits-all unit. Again, this is great for Flow Hive 2 owners. But it’s also great for those that have mouse guards on their entrances and just don’t want to bother taking them out just for treatment.
Your Guide To Buying The Best Oxalic Acid Vaporizers
Now that you know our picks let’s get into the nitty-gritty of finding the right one for your hive. Here are what you need to consider when choosing an oxalic acid vaporizer.
The heating element is one of the essential parts of an oxalic acid vaporizer. You have to find the right combination of material and temperature to vaporize OA effectively.
a. Material and Heating Time
You have a couple of choices for the material of the oxalic acid pan. Most use either aluminum or stainless steel. Both are good heat conductors, but aluminum trumps stainless steel (1).
“Pure aluminum has a thermal conductivity of about 235 watts per kelvin per meter. Stainless steel has a much lower conductivity, about 15 watts per kelvin per meter.”
Aluminum dissipates heat over 15 times faster than stainless steel. That’s why most of the oxalic acid vaporizers we chose for our list are made of aluminum.
The choice of material goes hand in hand with heating time. Aluminum heats up faster than stainless steel. But copper pans heat up slightly faster than aluminum.
The OxaVap ProVap110 Oxalic Acid Vaporizer combines a copper canister with an aluminum bottom cap. The copper allows the canister to heat up fast while the thick aluminum maintains the temperature – that’s why vaporization only takes 20 seconds.
Other vaporizers use a glow plug that heats a metal plate. This indirect heating method takes longer.
Adding oxalic acid drops the temperature of the heating element. It takes more time to heat back up to optimal temperature and vaporize the crystals.
In terms of quality, CNC machined pans are better than simple melted and molded pans. The process of CNC machining involves cutting a computer-specified pattern out of big, compact aluminum blocks (2).
CNC machined plates of the Scott Bee Farm Beekeepers Oxalic Acid Vaporizer are therefore more durable than others. And they are less likely to have manufacturing defects since CNC machining is very precise.
b. Temperature Range
An oxalic acid vaporizer pan needs to get really hot. Oxalic acid starts to vaporize at around 157°C (3). It means that the heating element needs to be way hotter. Most of the heating elements on our list heat up to between 240-250°C. A higher heating temperature compensates for the drop in temperature that we mentioned earlier.
c. Treatment Time
Treatment time is how long the crystals vaporize. Most wand-type vaporizers like the Varomorus Oxalic Acid Vaporizer take 2-3 minutes to work its magic. Make sure most of your bees are in the beehive. You don’t want to take more time attracting bees just to treat them.
Vaporizing time also depends on the amount of oxalic acid you put on the pan. What’s the recommended dosage of oxalic acid for bees?
As a rule, you need 1g of oxalic acid per brood box (4). That’s roughly ½ teaspoon of crystals. Obviously, if your hive has more than one box, it takes more than 3 minutes to vaporize the increased oxalic acid dose.
You should see dead mites after one round of treatment.
Depending on how big the infestation is, you may need to do more than one round of treatment (5). If you have one hive, definitely do another treatment – unless you want to risk your beehive colonies from collapsing!
Cord And Vaporizer Length
You usually keep your beehives away from your house or shed. So a long cord is great for plugging into an energy source. The Scott Bee Farm oxalic acid vaporizers have the longest wires on our list.
Twelve feet is plenty of cord to stretch from your car battery or lawnmower battery.
The wand length itself is another thing to consider. You want a relatively long rod. Why? Because it lets you stay away from the acid vapor in case you need to hold it and you have a few cracks.
Remember, oxalic acid vapor doesn’t harm bees, but it’s really toxic for humans. Make sure you wear protective gear while doing your treatments.
Having a longer rod means you have more control over how far into the beehive you want to put the vaporizer. You want to position the wand nearest to the bees to get the Varroa mites on their abdomens. Ideally, they’d be in the middle ⅔ of the hive, so you treat the combs evenly, too.
Speaking of the hive, make sure you check if the oxalic acid vaporizer you want fits into your beehive entrance.
Just check the height of the wand and see if it’s enough to get into the opening. If not, and you really want that unit, you can always modify your beehive entrance to make it fit.
Paging all Flow Hive 2 owners, we have good news for you! The Blythewood Bee Company Oxalic Acid Vaporizer has an ultra-thin heating pan that fits your hive entrance.
The ProVap110 from OxaVap is another vaporizer that works with all beehives. You just need to drill a ¼ inch hole at the back of your beehive to stick the stem in. Make sure it’s not too big so that you can leave the unit on the beehive wall.
Comfort and Safety Features
The weight of a vaporizer is a tricky thing to balance. On the one hand, you don’t want a hefty tool that you carry throughout your apiary. The other side of the coin is that a very lightweight vaporizer may mean low-quality materials. The point is, you want a comfortable weight, especially if you’re dealing with a lot of hives.
b. Crocodile Clips
Crocodile clips are usually made of copper because it conducts electricity well (6). That said, make sure that alligator clips have proper insulation. You don’t want to vaporize yourself instead of the oxalic acid!
The handle is another part that needs proper insulation while being comfortable. Wood is a popular handle choice because it doesn’t conduct heat. The Scott Bee Farm v.03.25 Oxalic Acid Vaporizer has a rectangular wooden handle.
Rubber is another good choice, just like the one that the ProVap110 has. The problem with rubber is that it catches mold quickly and gets sticky when it gets wet.
d. Entrance Guards
Sealing up a hive is vital so that all the vapor stays inside the beehive instead of blowing away. If you don’t seal the beehive well, your treatment won’t work as well (7).
“The crystals melt and sublime into smaller crystals that disperse within the hive covering the bees and hive interior. All other entrances and openings such as cracks must be closed or taped shut, so the fumes don’t escape and reduce treatment efficacy.”
The KDO Oxalic Acid Vaporizer comes with a metal entrance bracket. The bracket blocks the entrance to keep adult bees and vapor from getting out of the hive entrance.
It’s a cool feature that lets you control how far into the beehive you want your vaporizer. You can also tighten it so that it doesn’t move.
Most oxalic acid vaporizers require a standard 12V battery to run. You can use your car, motorized mower, or a jump start pack. Don’t worry. It doesn’t take much juice to power a vaporizer.
The Varomorus Oxalic Acid Vaporizer only uses less than 10% of a fully charged 12V jump-start battery per hive. That’s perfect for those with a small apiary.
The best time to use an oxalic acid vaporizer is during winter because adult bees usually stay in the hive. Also, conduct Varroa mite treatment before bees start brooding because they use the capped brood cell as a shield. You’ll need to perform multiple bee colonies treatment to eliminate the mite infestation.
No, you don’t have to open your hive to use an oxalic acid vaporizer. Opening the hive lets bees out. These devices fit into the hive entrance so that you don’t lessen the bees you treat.
Some vaporizers only need a small hole for a stem to fit. It minimizes the leak of vapor from the hive. Just make sure you seal up all other cracks or entrances. And don’t forget to seal the floor if you have a screen bottom hive.
No, you cannot eat honey treated with oxalic acid. Even if oxalic acid is a naturally occurring substance, it’s toxic to eat. Contaminated honey will make everyone who eats it very sick.
Oxalic acid is a powerful acid, in case you couldn’t tell from the smell. It’s just as bad when it vaporizes into honey. Eating it can cause mouth and intestinal ulcers and even vomiting blood.
To avoid this, make sure you don’t vaporize when honey supers are in your hive.
No, Varroa mites can’t become resistant to oxalic acid at present. Oxalic acid has over 90% efficacy to Varroa mites. Beekeepers have been using this treatment for decades. And bees still respond to the treatment. So it is doubtful that the mites develop resistance to oxalic acid.
- Aluminum vs. Steel Conductivity. Retrieved from: https://sciencing.com/aluminum-vs-steel-conductivity-5997828.html
- Aluminum-Machined Components. Retrieved from: https://www.hoggeprecision.com/blog/aluminum-machined-components/
- Evaluating the Efficacy of Oxalic Acid Vaporization and Brood Interruption in Controlling the Honey Bee Pest Varroa destructor (Acari: Varroidae). Retrieved from: https://academic.oup.com/jee/article/113/2/582/5697464
- Oxalic Acid Vaporization – Questions and Answers. Retrieved from: https://www.dadant.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/2011/09/Dadant_OxalicAcidVaporizer_QandA.pdf
- Beekeeping Naturally. Retrieved from: http://beekeepingnaturally.co.uk/varroa-mite-treatment-using-oxalic-acid-vaporization/#.YJaGEWYzbOS
- Aluminum vs. Copper Conductivity. Retrieved from: https://sciencing.com/aluminum-vs-copper-conductivity-5829267.html
- Using Oxalic Acid. Retrieved from: https://www.beeculture.com/using-oxalic-acid/