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Microcrystalline wax is a by-product of refining heavy distillates from lubricant oil production as part of the petroleum refining process. Wax refineries produce the wax by de-oiling Petrolatum, a mineral oil jelly better known as Petroleum Jelly or Vaseline.
Microcrystalline wax is typically a dark yellow or brown colour, but may have its odour or colour removed after filtration or hydro-treating, depending on the specifications of its end use. Microcrystalline waxes generally fall into two categories: Laminating grades (melting point of 60-80 degrees Celsius) and hardening grades (80-93 degrees Celsius). Both grades can range in colour from white to brown, depending on the level of refining. Refineries may combine Paraffin and Microcrystalline waxes. Compared to Paraffin wax, Microcrystalline wax has finer crystals, is generally darker, denser and more viscous, more elastic and adhesive and has a higher melting point.
Microcrystalline wax is a key component in the manufacture of Petrolatum (Petroleum Jelly) and is used to modify its properties. In the pursuit of more environmentally friendly and renewable ingredients, some industries are turning to hybrid petrolatum, which combines vegetable-based oils and waxes with petroleum-based micro waxes.
Microcrystalline wax is used as a protective outer coating.
Microcrystalline wax is used as a glazing agent and a base for chewing gum.
Microcrystalline wax is used to coat tablets and capsules, protecting the medication against moisture damage.
Microcrystalline wax is used as a component in the manufacture of candles.
Microcrystalline wax is used in wood polish.
In the Printing industry, Microcrystalline wax is used as a slip agent to reduce friction in printing ink. It is also used in corrugated board.
Microcrystalline wax is widely used in sealants, adhesives, laminates, polishes and rust prevention coatings.
The Rubber and Tyre industries use Microcrystalline wax to modify the properties of Paraffin wax, such raising its melting point, or increasing its flexibility or opacity.
In the Art and Jewellery industries, Microcrystalline waxes are used to make moulds in which to cast sculptures and jewellery such as rings. It is also used in crayons.
In the Sports industry, Microcrystalline wax is applied to the friction tape of ice hockey sticks to protect the glue from water damage and to the foot of the stick to improve control of the hockey puck due to its adhesion qualities. The wax is also applied to the bottom of snowboards to reduce friction and improve the board’s ability to slide.
In the Personal Care industry, Microcrystalline wax is used as an ingredient in and natural base for lipstick, ointments and skin care creams.