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Candle Wax

Paraffin Wax

bulk paraffin candle wax

Paraffin wax, which is classified as a natural wax, is the most common wax used in candlemaking, and can be said to ultimately come from plant life.

In order to protect themselves from adverse weather conditions plants produce a layer of wax on their leaves and stems. Material from dead plants 100-700 million years ago accumulated in large quantities and eventually became buried beneath the surface of the earth. After a long period of time, forces of heat and pressure turned the slowly decaying plant material into crude oil, otherwise known as petroleum. Because of the nature of waxes, being inert and water repellent, they were unaffected by the decomposition of the plant material and remained intact, suspended within the crude oil.

Petroleum companies "harvest" the crude oil and process it. They refine the oil, separating the different properties into Gasoline, Kerosene, Lubrication oil, and many other products. In many cases, the wax in the petroleum is considered undesirable and is refined out. The refinery will process the wax into a clean, clear liquid, or as a solid milky white block, and make it available to companies who may have a use for it.

The refined wax is called paraffin, which comes from the Latin "parum = few or without" and "affinis = connection or attraction (affinity)". Basically there are few substances that will chemically react with or bind to this type of wax.

There are two types of companies which process the paraffin wax used in candlemaking, the Petroleum Refinery and the Specialty Wax Processor.

Petroleum Refinery

Since wax is a byproduct of other products produced by the refineries, it does not always receive the highest regard in processing and packaging. Although it is processed to specific grades within given standards and tolerances, the 10 lb. or 11 lb. blocks are sometimes not uniform in shape, size, color, and surface texture. These waxes are also processed in batches, and the properties may vary from one batch to next. The variations are often caused by the chemical complexity of crude oil, and the difference in composition of the crude from one well to the next. These waxes are relatively inexpensive, and you may find that the prices could fluctuate with the economy and the relative cost of crude oil. The Mobil and Dalian waxes that we carry are examples of this.

Specialty Wax Processor

There are several companies who produce special blends of wax specifically for candlemaking. They create a wide variety of waxes for every type of candle imaginable. Since the wax is their business and not just a byproduct you can expect more uniform conformity in characteristics of a given wax. Maintaining the size and shape from one block to another are standard, while maintaining consistent formulation from one batch to the next are crucial for them to stay in business. You will find that these waxes can be significantly more costly. The Dussek Campbell waxes that we carry are examples of this.



A less common but more highly renowned wax for candlemaking is beeswax. Classified as a natural wax, it is produced by the honeybee for use in the manufacture of honeycombs.

Beeswax is actually a refinement of honey. A female worker bee eats honey, and her body converts the sugar in the honey into wax. The wax is expelled from the bee's body in the form of scales beneath her abdomen. The bee will remove a wax scale and chew it up, mixing it with saliva, to soften it and make it pliable enough to work with, then attach it to the comb which is being constructed. Usually another bee will take the piece of wax which has just been attached to the comb, chew it some more, adding more saliva to it, and deposit it on another section of the comb. The combs are built up, honey is deposited inside, and then the combs are capped with more wax. Since several worker bees construct the comb at the same time, and the hive is constantly active with other bees flying around and walking on the combs, depositing foreign matter onto the combs, the composition of the wax becomes very complex.

As is the case with paraffin, collecting beeswax is also the byproduct of a process. The beekeepers main interest is in the collection of honey. The capping wax must be removed in order to extract the honey; they save the capping wax until they've collected enough to make it available to market.

Because beeswax is harvested in relatively small quantities it does not boast the same availability as paraffin and is therefore more expensive. It is used extensively in cosmetics and candlemaking. Candles made from 100% beeswax are generally held in high regard, when burning they glow beautifully and impart a very pleasant honey like aroma.

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