Paraffin wax is a white or colourless wax derived from petroleum, coal or oil shale. The main raw material is slack wax, a by-product from refining lubricating oil, which contains wax and oil. After using solvents to separate the wax (product wax or press wax) from the oil (foots oil), it can be further refined to remove the colour and odour and then blended to achieve certain melting points.
Paraffin wax is a white waxy solid at room temperature that is tasteless and odourless. It is sold with various melt points, typically between 43-60 °C (other melting points are available on request) and has a boiling point above 370 °C. It is soluble in ether, benzene and certain esters, but does not dissolve in water. Paraffin is flammable but is unreactive to many common chemical reagents. Although edible, Paraffin wax cannot be digested by mammals, so passes through the digestive system without providing any nutritional value.
Paraffin wax is a food additive commonly used as a shiny protective outer layer and a coating for hard cheeses. In agriculture, it is used in fertilisers as an anti-caking agent, a dust-binding coating and a moisture repellent.
Paraffin wax is used as a glazing agent for candies and an ingredient in chewing gum.
Paraffin wax is used in pathology laboratories to impregnate tissue prior to sectioning thin samples for analysis. It is also used by forensic investigators to detect nitrates and nitrites on the hand of a shooting suspect.
Paraffin wax is a component in the manufacture of candles.
Paraffin wax is used for coating cloth and leather goods.
In the Printing industry, Paraffin wax is used in ink for thermal printers, producing images with a shiny surface. It is also used to coat waxed paper.
Paraffin wax is used for lubrication and to prevent oxidation on the surface of iron and polished steel. It is also used as a sealant for cans, jars and bottles. In addition, Paraffin wax is used in mechanical thermostats and actuators for automotive, industrial, and domestic purposes because it expands considerably when it melts.
In the Electrical industry, Paraffin wax is used for electrical insulation.
The Rubber industry uses blends of Paraffin and micro waxes in rubber compounds to prevent the rubber from cracking. The wax forms a protective layer on the surface of the product and can act as a release agent when separating the item from its mould.
The Building industry uses Paraffin wax in building materials for thermal energy storage as it absorbs heat when it melts during the day and releases it again when it solidifies at night.
The Art industry uses Paraffin wax in crayons. Paraffin-based investment casting waxes are also used in casting metal and other materials in the lost wax process.
In the Sports industry, Paraffin wax is a constituent of surfboard wax, glide wax for skis and snowboards, and is used as a friction-reducer in skateboarding. It is also used as a thickening agent in paintballs.
In the Pyrotechnics industry, Paraffin wax is used to lubricate bullets (along with Beeswax and Olive Oil) and stabilise explosives.
In the Personal Care industry, Paraffin wax is used in moisturisers and toiletries such as Petroleum Jelly.