Paraffin wax or honeybees waxBees wax is a material that has been used since ancient times not only in medicine but also in cosmetics, embalming, writing and the preparation and conservation of dishes. Natural beeswax, which is not mixed with paraffin or other substances, had a dark yellow color and sweet, pleasant, scent.
Beeswax is also used for producing candles. Most candle producers recommend bees wax, especially for the more complicated candles that have inlaid models on them.
Paraffin was distilled for the first time in 1830 and revolutionized the candle production industry. Paraffin is much more used in candle production, not because it has better properties, but because it is much cheaper and melts at 52-54OC. A paraffin wax candle can have half the price of a honeybee wax candle.
Paraffin is a substance derived from petroleum. During the fabrication process it passes through several bleaching and purification phases, during which are added other chemical elements.
People have different opinions about paraffin, since it is a synthesis product. Dictionaries define paraffin as being alkaline hydrocarbons, which have the following formula: CnH2n+2. The simplest paraffin molecule is methane, which at the room temperature can be found in gaseous form. Paraffin is obtained from the mud that remains at the bottom of the barrels used for storing oil. This mud is then processed and bleached with benzene and other chemical solvents. Paraffin wax is usually white, odorless, tasteless and has the consistency of bees wax.
Many claim that paraffin is toxic. Thus, through its burning it releases styrene, naphthalene, toluene (aromatic hydrocarbons that are extremely toxic), formaldehyde and other allergy causing substances that remain in the room long after the candles burned out. Paraffin wax candles cause irritation of the respiratory system, worse already extant respiratory problems such as asthma or bronchitis and determine toxic and allergic symptoms. Some scientists compared the gases eliminated by paraffin wax candles with those eliminated by a diesel engine.
In our industrialized world all that is natural has been put aside in favor of synthetic products. In stores you can find paraffin wax candles labeled as bio. Paraffin and its derived substances are used in the cosmetics industry to produce various types of body lotions, soap and tooth paste.
Let's talk a bit now about honeybees wax. This natural wax secreted by bees has the form of small scales. Bees need around 3.5 kilograms of honey in order to produce wax. Wax is produced when bees have enough nectar and pollen to eat. Wax production is a physiological process. To put it more simply, wax production means the transformation of nectar and pollen into wax, within the bee's body. Within the combs, the wax changes its color as time passes by and to its composition are added pollen aerosols, venom, propolis and volatile oils. These volatile oils are not toxic; on the contrary they have therapeutic effects.
It is true that beeswax can have its level of toxicity but this is due to the intervention of human beings: treatments given to honeybees can alter the purity of the wax and so do the artificial combs that contain paraffin, the chemicals in the nectar of pollinated plants, etc.
On the other hand there are people who claim that paraffin wax is not harmful at all. Paraffin is used in cooking, being a chemical preservative used on fruit, vegetables and candies to make them look shiny and retard moisture loss. Paraffin wax can be eaten, since is added to many types of chocolate. You can find eatable paraffin in stores, labeled as baker's wax or canning wax. Paraffin used to make candles cannot be used to make chocolate candies.
Paraffin is also used for waterproofing paper.
There are two types of paraffin wax: low melt point paraffin and high melt point paraffin.
Low melt point paraffin:
-melting point less than 130OF
-adheres well to the sides of the recipients
-best for tea light candles
High melt point paraffin:
-melting point more than 130OF
-used for pillar candles
As any chemical product paraffin wax is cheaper than natural beeswax. It would be unfair not to recognize that paraffin wax has its strong points. However, the hive products have amazing healing properties and so does the beeswax.
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