Where Does Wax Come From?

Where Does Wax Come From?

Has the question “where does wax come from?” ever crossed your mind? If so this article is for you. This article will discuss the basics of wax: where it comes from and the different types.
Simply put, wax is composed of a variety of different organic substances. Most often, wax is solid at room temperature and becomes a liquid at higher temperatures. There are a variety of different sources of wax ranging from animals to plants.  Below are six different types of waxes along with information on where it comes from and what it is used for.

1. Paraffin Wax

Paraffin wax comes from petroleum. It is a by-product that is created when crude oil is refined. Paraffin waxes are made up of large, well formed crystals. It is used in a variety of different markets such as: cheese coatings, candle making, food packaging and crayons.

2.  Microcrystalline Wax

Microcrystalline wax is a petroleum wax derived from crude oil. It is de-oiled during the refining process, meaning the oil is removed leaving wax behind.  Microcrystalline wax is commonly used in cosmetics and candles, but it can also be used as a blending ingredient to increase flexibility, viscosity and hardness in other products.

3. Beeswax

Beeswax, an animal by-product, is secreted by bees when they are building their honeycombs. Some of the most common uses of Beeswax are for food, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics.  This is not to be confused with Bee Hive Wax, which is a blend of paraffin and microcrystalline waxes commonly used for coating wooden bee hives.

4. Montan Wax

Montan wax is a type of mineral wax. It comes from a solvent extraction of lignite. Lignite is another name for brown coal. Montan wax is typically used in car and shoe polish. In polish, Montan wax helps to improve scuff resistance, water resistance, and it provides a nice high gloss finish.

5. Carnauba Wax

Carnauba wax is a vegetable based wax that comes from a specific variety of palm trees that are grown in Brazil. The wax is harvested from the fronds of these trees. Carnauba wax is used in many different products; for example, car polishes, dental floss, and paper coatings.

6. Fischer-Tropsch Wax

Fischer-Tropsch wax is a synthetic (man-made) wax. This wax is produced by the polymerization of carbon monoxide under high pressure. Fischer-Tropsch waxes are one of the most commonly produced synthetic waxes. It is used in printing ink and polishes among other things.

As you can see, there are many different sources of wax. To answer the question “where does wax come from?” there isn’t one simple answer. There are many different sources of wax.

For more information on wax, check out our glossary of wax terms and our waxipedia.