Ingredients in Paraffin Wax

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Paraffin wax has many applications, from food preservation to packaging, candle making to cosmetic usage. A by-product of petroleum or crude oil distillery, paraffin can be either basic or refined. Basic paraffin wax may contain oils and other possibly toxic ingredients. Although refined or food-grade paraffin is considered edible, the paraffin passes through the body undigested.

Basic Paraffin Wax

Basic paraffin wax is a by product of petroleum or crude oil distillation. Other ingredients may include synthetic resins and oil such as palm oil. Basic or non-food grade paraffin may be used in candle making, as an adhesive or for various industrial applications.

Refined Paraffin Wax

Refined or food-grade paraffin wax is also a by-product of petroleum refining. Impurities removed, the refined wax may be bleached. Food-grade paraffin is used as a coating to preserve produce such as apples, citrus fruits and cucumbers. It may also be used to provide a coating to hard cheeses such as Edam and to provide a glossy finish to candies. Refined paraffin may be an ingredient in chewing gum. Although food-grade paraffin is sold as a sealant for home canning, the USDA no longer promotes its use because of mold issues. Food- grade paraffin is also used as an emollient for lipsticks, lotions, and other beauty products.

Possible Toxicity

Some scientific studies question the safety of paraffin wax, especially when burned. Dimethyl sulphoxide, a potential carcinogen, is an additive to some paraffin waxes. Benzene and toluene, two additional potential carcinogens, are emitted from burning paraffin candles.

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