What is paraffin wax

A flammable, whitish, translucent, waxy solid consisting of a mixture of saturated hydrocarbons, obtained by distillation from petroleum or shale and used in candles, cosmetics, polishes, and sealing and waterproofing compounds.

Paraffin wax,colorless or white, somewhat translucent, hard wax consisting of a mixture of solid straight-chain hydrocarbons ranging in melting point from about 48° to 66° c (120° to 150° f). Paraffin wax is obtained from petroleum by dewaxing light lubricating oil stocks. It is used in candles, wax paper, polishes, cosmetics, and electrical insulators. It assists in extracting perfumes from flowers, forms a base for medical ointments, and supplies a waterproof coating for wood. In wood and paper matches, it helps to ignite the matchstick by supplying an easily vaporized hydrocarbon fuel.

Paraffin, or paraffin hydrocarbon, is also the technical name for an Alkane in general, but in most cases it refers specifically to a linear, or normal Alkane whereas branched, or Iso Alkanes are also called ISO paraffin. It is distinct from the fuel known in the United Kingdom , Ireland and South Africa as paraffin oil or just paraffin, which is called Koresen in most of the u.s., Canada, Australia and new Zealand.

Paraffin wax was first produced commercially in 1867, less than 10 years after the first petroleum well was drilled. Paraffin wax precipitates readily from petroleum on chilling. Technical progress has served only to make the separations and filtration more efficient and economical. Purification methods consist of chemical treatment, de-colorization by adsorbents, and fractionation of the separated waxes into grades by distillation, recrystallization, or both. Crude oils differ widely in wax content.


The feedstock for paraffin is slack wax , which is a mixture of oil and wax, a byproduct from the refining of lubricating oil.

The first step in making paraffin wax is to remove the oil (DE-oiling or DE-waxing) from the slack wax. The oil is separated through crystallization. Most commonly, the slack wax is heated, mixed with one or more solvent such as a  ketone and then cooled. As it is cooled, wax crystallizes out leaving oil in solution. This mixture is filtered into two streams: solid (wax plus some solvent) and liquid (oil and solvent). After the solvent is recovered by distillation, the resulting products are called "product wax" (or "press wax") and "foots oil". The lower the percentage of oil in the wax the more refined it is considered (semi-refined versus fully refined). The product wax may be further processed to remove colors and odors. The wax may finally be blended together to give certain desired properties such as melt point and penetration. Paraffin wax is sold in either liquid or solid form.

What kind of candles does it make

Pretty much any type of candle can be made with paraffin wax. The melting point is the primary determinant of the

  • Is used for container candles in jars, cups or glasses
  • Medium melt point paraffin (130°f - 150°f) is used for candles that need to stand on their own - votive , pillars and other molded candles
  • High melt point wax (greater than 150°f) is used for more special applications like candle shells over dripping and other special candle making applications

Paraffin wax uses:

  • Bottles to seal, dip the top of the bottle in melted wax.
  • Irons to keep them smooth, rub hot iron over a bar of wax wrapped in cloth.
  • Drawers to lubricate, rub a bar of wax over the sliders.
  • Windows to keep them opening and closing smoothly, run a bar of wax over the tracks.
  • Zippers to keep them from sticking, rub the teeth of the zipper with a bar of wax.
  • Snow shovels to help the snow slide off of the shovel, rub a bar of wax over a dry shovel.
  • Toboggans to lubricate, rub the skis with a bar of wax.
  • Trash cans to keep things from sticking, coat the inside with melted wax.
  • Chocolate making for a shiny coat, add a little (food grade) wax to the melted chocolate.
  • Hard cheese to keep it fresh, dip the exposed cheese in melted (food grade) wax.
  • Handrails to lubricate, rub the handrails with a bar of wax.
  • Steel or iron to prevent oxidation, rub the surface with a bar of wax.
  • Fruits and vegetables to keep fresh longer, dip the fruit or vegetables in melted (food grade) wax. This will slow down the moisture loss and keep them from spoiling.
  • Candles to make your own, there are several tutorials on the web for making your own candles.
  • Hands feet to soften, dip hands and feet into a low-temp wax bath. Wait 10-15 minutes then remove the wax.
  • Crayons to make your own, all you need is paraffin wax and some pigments.

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