Paraffin wax is a transparent, white, cream or yellow solid petroleum product. It is a mixture of hydrocarbon molecules. Its state at room temperature is solid and starts melting at approximately 58 degrees Celsius.
Paraffin waxes are derived from crude oil during the production of distillate lubricating oils. The waxes are categorized by degree of refinement and oil content. Some of the categories include the slack wax category which contains between 5%-20% oil. The crudest versions of paraffin fall into that category. Next in line is the fully refined wax (refined white wax). It is the highest grade of refinement. It contains less than 0.5% oil which is 0.8% for high welted products. The waxes in this grade have been clay treated or hydro-treated to remove impurities and decolouration. The result is odour-free, water clear, and normally food-grade waxes. Next is the semi-refined paraffin which contains between 0.5%-1.5% oil.
The products of fully refined paraffin wax have high melting points, no adhesion, no sweat, no greasy feeling, and low oil content. They are also moisture-proof, waterproof and have good electric insulation at room temperature. Fully refined paraffin wax has a low content of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, is tough, is chemically stable and light, has good thermal stability, has good plasticity, and has no mechanical impurities. It is normally soluble in benzene, chloroform, carbon disulfide, ether, turpentine, petroleum, carbon tetrachloride, and fixed oils.
Application of paraffin wax
- It is used in making high-frequency porcelain.
- It is used in making high quality decorative sound-absorbing board.
- It is used in match manufacturing.
- It is used in the making of carbon paper.
- It is used in candle making.
- It is used in the cosmetic industry in their formulations.
- It is used in the food industry.
- It is applied as a PVC extrusion lubricant.
- It is used in electrical insulation.
- It is used in creating a water-proof coating for wood.
- It is used as a lubricant in bicycle chains.
- It is used in hybrid rocket motors as a solid propellant.
- It is used as a thickening agent in paintballs.
The application for the different grades of wax is also different. Candle waxes are majorly manufactured using semi-refined wax. Fully-refined paraffin wax is also used, but its application is mostly seen in the manufacture of high-grade candles. Fully refined paraffin wax is most suitable for making high-frequency porcelain, carbon paper, decorative sound-absorbing panels, precision casting, and stylus wax paper. Semi-refined paraffin wax is most suitable for the manufacture of crayons, packaging paper, general telecommunication materials, in wood processing, and cultural and educational supplies.