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What Are the Different Uses of Paraffin Wax?

Crystal Cook
Crystal Cook

Paraffin wax, a type of alkane hydrocarbon, has many uses in a variety of products, including candles, food, adhesives, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. This white, tasteless, odorless, wax also is an effective lubricant. Paraffin wax is insoluble in water and has a melting point between 115° Fahrenheit (46° Celsius) and 154° F (68° C), which makes it useful in a variety ways.

In cosmetics, the wax is an ingredient that softens skin and makes products creamy and shiny. Many lipstick, creams and lotions contain paraffin. It is so well known for making skin soft and smooth that many stores sell paraffin wax baths for hands, elbows and feet. A few basketball players coat their hands with the wax prior to games because soft hands allow them to catch and throw the ball better. The wax also covers pills and tablets to give them a polished, easy-to-swallow finish, and it helps to delay the release of the medicine.

A manicurist giving a person a paraffin wax treatment.
A manicurist giving a person a paraffin wax treatment.

Paraffin wax is used in food as a preservative and stiffener, and it adds luster. Some cheeses are encased in the wax for protection against moisture and mildew. The wax also will extend the life and freshness of fruit, and it is a fundamental ingredient in gum. Many chocolatiers add this kind of wax to melted chocolate so, when the chocolate dries, it has a delicious sheen and is just soft enough that it is easy to bite and chew.

A woman dipping her hand in melted paraffin.
A woman dipping her hand in melted paraffin.

One useful property of this type of wax is that it is a thermoplastic material, meaning it is a solid at room temperature but, when it is applied to something while hot and liquid, it will stick to the surface. When the wax cools, it creates a strong joint. This property has been developed for use with high-speed machinery in packaging, furniture, shoe manufacturing and cigarette manufacturing.

Paraffin wax is used in many lipsticks.
Paraffin wax is used in many lipsticks.

The biggest sector that utilizes paraffin wax is the candle industry. The refined paraffin wax used for candles is safe and complies with strict United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. The high melting point of paraffin wax allows the wick to burn at a slow pace, only burning down as the wax gradually melts.

Rubbing a bar of the wax on the bottom of your skis or snowboard will help to ensure a fast run down a snow-covered mountain. It also will help protect the equipment from the resulting moisture. Wax on the bottom of a surfboard also protects the board from the salty water.

Discussion Comments


Is there a difference between paraffin wax for candles and paraffin wax for the beauty machines for your feet and hands? I keep thinking there has to be, if only because of the price. Candlewix paraffin wax 140 sells for $56.50 per unit, which breaks down to five slabs per carton, which are 10 pounds each, so 50 pounds for $56.50, or about $1.13/lb. That is for candle making.

If I buy the paraffin wax sold all over the web, or specifically labeled for the wax melt machines, it is about $6 per pound.

That is a huge difference. Are they interchangeable? Or am I going to ruin a brand new machine?


If you have kids that are a bit older you can buy a candle making kit and have fun playing with paraffin wax. While most people usually think of candle making as a bit dangerous it can actually be really safe if you make sure to take the proper precautions.

For my family I purchased a large candle making kit online and had it shipped to my home. One of the best things we made were candles with different treasures hidden inside that were revealed once the wax had melted. Putting and small metal charms and collectible rocks can be a nice surprise for those burning a candle. Nothing makes a better gift than a treasure candle.


If you love getting manicures and pedicures adding a paraffin wax treatment to your visit to the beauty shop can really do wonders for your skin. There is nothing like slipping your hands and feet into a pool of warm wax and having it dry on you. It feels a bit odd at first, but it is actually oddly comforting. Also, the wax is kept at such a perfect temperature that you don't have to worry about things like burns and so on.

You can even do paraffin wax treatments at home you just have to follow guidelines carefully so you don't get wax everywhere or end up burning yourself.


@lluviaporos - While it might not get digested, and is safe in small amounts, there is no telling what larger amounts might do.

Undigested things generally don't move well through the digestive system unfortunately, as the lower parts of it are made to move food that has been made basically into slush.

That's why people who swallow hair and things like that end up with problems, because it tends to stick in the higher parts of the digestive system rather than passing through.

I'd imagine the same problems would happen with paraffin wax if you ate too much.


I have often wondered why paraffin wax doesn't get used more often in the food industry. Even though it is edible, it doesn't get digested, so it goes right through you, so to speak.

In other words, it doesn't have any calories. If they could flavor it, or use it in manufacturing more kinds of food, couldn't it help contribute to weight loss?


I actually had no idea that paraffin was so useful. I have heard of (and longed for) a pedicure with a paraffin wax treatment, but have yet to have that luxurious experience.

I find it absolutely amazing that this one thing is safe for eating, good for making candles, great for the skin; it seems to hold no end to possibilities.

It makes me wonder who the paraffin wax tycoon of the world is, because he seems to be in a foolproof, make lots of money every way he turns industry.


@bluespirit - I'm sure you can get paraffin wax at more places than this, but I have seen paraffin wax at beauty stores such as beauty stores.

I definitely recommend the parafin wax, to me it is a relaxing treatment and producing some softening results. Also it is not ridiculously expensive to buy!


I had thought that this wax was the wax they actually used at spa treatment places to remove your unwanted brow hair. But now I get it! A paraffin wax treatment is more for soft skin.

And I have always wondered what some cheeses were encased in because I noticed some people were fine with eating the surrounding waxy part of the cheese and others were not. I, seeing how it was waxy, was a little scared to eat the outside. I don't think I will ever eat that waxy part, but at least I know what it is now.

Although I won't be buying it to cover any cheeses any time soon, I would like to see how it does softening my hands! Does anyone know where to buy paraffin wax?

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    • A manicurist giving a person a paraffin wax treatment.
      By: Couperfield
      A manicurist giving a person a paraffin wax treatment.
    • A woman dipping her hand in melted paraffin.
      By: muehlberg
      A woman dipping her hand in melted paraffin.
    • Paraffin wax is used in many lipsticks.
      By: bst2012
      Paraffin wax is used in many lipsticks.
    • Paraffin wax can make a snowboard faster.
      By: leks_052
      Paraffin wax can make a snowboard faster.
    • Paraffin wax is used in candle making.
      By: verdateo
      Paraffin wax is used in candle making.