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Glossary of Wax Terms


Blocking point

Temperature at which a liquid molten wax, when applied to two layers of paper, begins to adhere solidly and evenly to both surfaces, thus making it impossible to separate either layer of paper without causing physical damage.

Cloud point

Temperature at which a wax begins to change color from clear to opaque. The cloud point is an undefined point, from 2 to 3 degrees above the melting point, to 10 to 50 degrees above the melting point, depending upon the grade of wax and the types of additives in the wax. The cloud point is the temperature where liquid molten wax is beginning to change structurally and visibly from liquid to solid.

Color

Color of a wax at a designated temperature. The test is usually done while the wax is in liquid form. The color is determined by comparing the wax color to a standardized assortment of gage samples (Saybolt test). The color gage samples range in color from a low number, (i.e. + 2, clear amber while molten, dark amber while solid), to a high number, (i.e. +30, crystal clear while molten, pure white color while solid). Generally speaking, the higher the color number, the lower the impurities in wax. Almost all food grade waxes have a color of +25 or greater.

Congealing/freezing point

Temperature at which a wax begins to harden into a solid form. At the congealing point, liquid wax will cease to flow under specific conditions. The freezing point is an established point 2 to 3 degrees below the melting point. A solid wax will remain solid, at varying hardness, as long as its temperature remains below the freezing point.

Crude Oil

Crude oil is transported to refineries where it is refined into finished products by complex processes. One of the many products of the refining of crude oil is lubricating oil, from which a by-product, called slack wax, is obtained. Slack wax is a mixture of oil and paraffin wax, and serves as the primary base stock that is further refined to create semi-refined and fully refined petroleum paraffin wax products.

Density

Weight of the wax divided by its volume at a standardized temperature. It is normally reported as a pounds per gallon at 60° F /15° C

Flash point

Temperature at which an excessively heated wax begins to vaporize and becomes a volatile gas. The vapors from molten wax are extremely flammable.

Fully-refined paraffin wax

Fully-refined paraffin wax is derived from crude oil and is further refined from semi-refined wax. Fully refined paraffin is a wax that has been separated from crude oil, as a semi-refined wax, and fully refined, through several more stages, at a refiner, to remove essentially all of the unwanted contaminants from the paraffin wax.

High melt wax

Petroleum paraffin wax that has a melting point higher than 138° F and is usually considered, although not always, a higher quality grade wax.

Low melt wax

Petroleum paraffin wax that has a melting point higher than 124° F, but lower than 130° F, and is usually considered, although not always, a lower quality grade wax.

Melting point

Temperature at which a wax is no longer a solid and begins to become a liquid. The melting point is an established point where the wax turns from solid form to a liquid form. A liquid wax will remain liquid as long as its temperature remains above the melting point, and thus it will become a solid when its temperature is below the melting point.

Microcrystalline wax

Petroleum based wax that has very different physical properties than paraffin wax. Micro wax is more dense (weighs more), has a different molecular structure (closer packed molecules), is thicker when liquid (higher viscosity), is more flexible (bends easier), has more adhesion factors (is sticky), tougher (scuff resistant), and has a higher melt point than paraffin wax.

Mid melt wax

Petroleum paraffin wax that has a melting point higher than 130° F, but lower than 138° F, and is usually considered, although not always, a medium quality grade wax.

Mineral wax

A waxlike mineral resin that is a mixture of hydrocarbons found in connection with certain deposits of rock salt, coal, or petroleum.

Oil content

Total amount of oil in the wax in proportion to the total weight of the wax. Generally speaking, although not always, the higher the oil content, the lower the melt point, and the lower the melt point, the higher the oil content. A high oil content wax will bleed through most papers easily and will stain the paper with an oily, clear deposit.

Poly content

Total weight of poly additives in the wax in proportion to the total weight of the wax blend. Generally speaking, although not always, the higher the poly content of the wax, the higher the durability of the wax.

Paraffin

A wax derived from refining light to medium lubricating oil, can be refined to be nearly colorless and odorless. Properties include solid straight-chain hydrocarbons.

Pastilles

Format of small wax beads.

Petrolatum

Petrolatum is the wax byproduct of heavy lubricating oil, and is filtered and blended to petroleum jelly. Properties include a semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons.

Petroleum wax

Petroleum waxes are carbon based, derived from decomposed or fossilized organic matter. Separated from lubricating oil by vacuum distillation. Include Paraffin, Microcrystalline, and Petrolatum.

Semi-refined paraffin wax

Semi-refined paraffin wax is derived from crude oil and is further refined from slack wax. Semi-refined paraffin is a wax that has been separated from crude oil, as a slack wax, and refined, through one further stage, at a refinery, to remove almost all of the unwanted contaminants from the paraffin wax.

Slab

A format of bulk wax processed into rectangular sheets.

Slack wax

Unrefined crude wax containing a fairly high percentage of oil.