Wax is used in many different ways by many different industries, but where does it come from? Wax comes from many different sources and each type of wax is optimal for a different use. Read below to find out where wax is sourced from along with what different types are best used for.
Animal waxes are natural secretions of animals and insects. There are many different types of animal waxes.
The most common type of animal wax is Beeswax. Beeswax is formed by worker bees and is used by Honey bees to build honeycomb cells in which their young are raised with honey and pollen cells being capped for storage. Beeswax can be used in a variety of applications including candle making and in many different types of cosmetics.
Another common type of animal wax is Lanolin. Lanolin, also called wool wax or wool grease, comes from wool bearing animals (sheep). This type of animal wax is most commonly used in lip balms, rust proof coatings and even by baseball players to soften their gloves.
Two common types of plant waxes are Soy Wax and Carnauba wax. Carnauba wax comes from the leaves of a carnauba palm and is sometimes referred to as palm wax. Carnauba wax has a glossy finish and is a popular wax to use in car polish, shoe polish and even floor and furniture polish. Soy wax is made from the oil of soybeans. The most popular use for soy wax is in making candles, but is used in cosmetics as well. Soy Wax is a great choice for those wanting an environmentally friendly product since it is a renewable and sustainable resource.
Both animal and plant waxes are considered by many as Natural Waxes.
Two types of petroleum waxes are Paraffin and Microcrystalline wax. While both Paraffin and Microcrystalline waxes are derived from crude oil, each product is quite different. Paraffin wax is typically white and odorless. It is used in a wide variety of products and is one of the most commonly used types of wax. Paraffin wax is used in candle making, paper coatings and crayons.
Microcrystalline waxes are typically darker, heavier and tackier than paraffin waxes. This type of wax is used in the tire and rubber industry. Additionally, microcrystalline waxes are also used in candle making and cosmetics.
A less commonly known type of wax is mineral waxes. One type of mineral wax is Montan wax. Montan wax is extracted from lignite and brown coal. It is only available in a few places throughout the world (two locations are Germany and California). Montan wax is used in the paper coating industry as well as in car polishes due to its ability to provide scuff resistance, water repellency and a high gloss finish.
When thinking of Synthetic waxes, one type of wax in particular comes to mind: Fischer-Tropsch. Fischer-Tropsch is a process that involves a series of chemical reactions that produce a variety of hydrocarbons. It was developed by none other than Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch in 1925. Fischer-Tropsch waxes are used in candles, coatings and many other products.
There you have it, the top 5 sources of wax. Check out our Glossary of Wax Terms for more information.