Waxes and wax compounds are organic materials with high molecular weight, similar to fats and oils; however, waxes are solid at room temperature with a minimum melting point above 45° C (113° Fahrenheit). Waxes and wax compounds are used in sealers, polishes, coating, inks, adhesives, lubricants, binders, candles and candle making, investment casting patterns, and food additives. The most common use for waxes and wax compounds in the industrial and commercial industries is impregnation, a process used to protect products against water, water vapor, and corrosion. Impregnating wax is usually less viscous and melts at lower temperatures than most other waxes; thus, it has better penetration properties on porous materials.
Types of Waxes and Wax Compounds
There are many different types of waxes and wax compounds. Examples include bee wax, paraffin wax, soy wax, carnauba wax, mineral wax, and stearate wax. Beeswax is most often used as a binder in lotions and candles; however, it is also used in polishes, cosmetics, crayons, and as a wax on skis and surf boards. Paraffin wax is available in many different grades and is produced through the refining process of crude mineral oils. It most commonly used in candle production and as a food coating. Soy wax is a popular substitute for paraffin candle-making wax because of its affordability and cleanliness when burnt. Some waxes and wax compounds are naturally-occurring. For example, carnauba wax is extracted from the carnauba palm tree and used in polishes and as a candy or paper coating. Mineral wax (ozocerite) is the byproduct of ground petroleum and coal. Stearate wax is a glycerol emulsifier typically found in cosmetics, hair products, candies, and lubricants for plastic.
Specifications for waxes and wax compounds include weight, color, and application. Most products are packaged in weights of 1 - 20 lbs. Natural colors include amber, yellow, tan, white, black, and brown. Waxes and wax compounds are used widely in the chemical industry, and for construction, molding, flash dipping, and impregnating applications. A wax compound is usually graded by a combination of their melting point, operating temperature, and cold flow.