paraffin wax


paraffin wax
paraffin in its solid state.
[1870-75]

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      colourless or white, somewhat translucent, hard wax consisting of a mixture of solid straight-chain hydrocarbons ranging in melting point from about 48° to 66° C (120° to 150° F). Paraffin wax is obtained from petroleum by dewaxing light lubricating oil stocks. It is used in candles, wax paper, polishes, cosmetics, and electrical insulators. It assists in extracting perfumes from flowers, forms a base for medical ointments, and supplies a waterproof coating for wood. In wood and paper matches, it helps to ignite the matchstick by supplying an easily vaporized hydrocarbon fuel.

      Paraffin wax was first produced commercially in 1867, less than 10 years after the first petroleum well was drilled. Paraffin wax precipitates readily from petroleum on chilling. Technical progress has served only to make the separations and filtration more efficient and economical. Purification methods consist of chemical treatment, decolorization by adsorbents, and fractionation of the separated waxes into grades by distillation, recrystallization, or both. Crude oils differ widely in wax content.

      Synthetic paraffin wax was introduced commercially after World War II as one of the products obtained in the Fischer–Tropsch reaction (Fischer-Tropsch reaction), which converts coal gas to hydrocarbons. Snow-white and harder than petroleum paraffin wax, the synthetic product has a unique character and high purity that make it a suitable replacement for certain vegetable waxes and as a modifier for petroleum waxes and for some plastics, such as polyethylene. Synthetic paraffin waxes may be oxidized to yield pale-yellow, hard waxes of high molecular weight that can be saponified with aqueous solutions of organic or inorganic alkalies, such as borax, sodium hydroxide, triethanolamine, and morpholine. These wax dispersions serve as heavy-duty floor wax, as waterproofing for textiles and paper, as tanning agents for leather, as metal-drawing lubricants, as rust preventives, and for masonry and concrete treatment.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • paraffin wax — n. PARAFFIN (n. 1) …   English World dictionary

  • paraffin wax — noun from crude petroleum; used for candles and for preservative or waterproof coatings • Syn: ↑paraffin • Hypernyms: ↑wax * * * noun see paraffin I, 1a * * * paraffin in its solid state. [1870 75] * * * paraffin wax …   Useful english dictionary

  • paraffin wax — paraffin (def. 1) …   Medical dictionary

  • paraffin wax — Paraffin in the solid state …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • paraffin wax — noun A waxy white solid hydrocarbon mixture used to make candles, wax paper, lubricants, and sealing materials …   Wiktionary

  • paraffin wax — noun (U) a soft white substance used for making candles, made from petroleum or coal …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • paraffin wax — UK / US noun [uncountable] a white substance used for making candles …   English dictionary

  • paraffin wax — /ˈpærəfən wæks/ (say paruhfuhn waks) noun a white translucent solid with a melting point in the range 50°–60°C, consisting of the higher members of the alkane series; used for candles, waxed papers, polishes, etc …   Australian English dictionary

  • Paraffin wax sizing — Парафиновая проклейка …   Краткий толковый словарь по полиграфии

  • chlorinated paraffin wax — noun see chlorinated paraffin …   Useful english dictionary