You’ve read about the numerous products AFPM members manufacture. These range from fuel to materials that are used in prosthetic arms and on space stations. But one product that doesn’t jump to the forefront are waxes. And yes, waxes are a petroleum product. Petroleum-based waxes are known as paraffin or microcrystalline waxes. 

AFPM members who produce wax products characterize wax by the degree of refinement; fully refined paraffin has oil content generally less than 0.5 percent, and fully-refined micro-crystalline less than 3 percent. "Slack wax," precursors to the fully refined versions in either case, would have oil content above 3 percent, and as high as 35 percent by weight. Paraffin wax produced from petroleum is essentially a pure mixture of normal and iso-alkanes without the esters, acids, etc. found in the animal and vegetable-based waxes.

Let’s put the chemistry aside and see where you could find petroleum-based waxes. Sure, candles and wax paper come to mind first, but you can also find these waxes in lipstick, corrugated boxes, chewing gum, tires, and building materials. And that’s just the beginning of the list!

Next week, AFPM will host the annual International Lubricants and Waxes Conference in Houston. This is the premier event for petroleum-based wax manufacturers, suppliers and customers. There will be attendees from as far away as China, Brazil and South Africa. If you think about all the uses of waxes, you can see that waxes are big business and an important product made possible by AFPM members.

Want to know more about waxes and see a full list of products that use waxes? Visit AFPM’s “Wax Facts” page.