A General Overview of Waxes
The term “wax” was probably first applied by ancient civilizations to the material manufactured by the Bee for use in constructing his honeycomb. Down through the ages, the meaning of the word has been broadened until today it is used to describe a very wide range of materials, many of which have no chemical relationship to each other. Materials which fall under the general classification “wax” range all the way from Beeswax – to the waxes derived from crude oil which are equally complex mixtures of hydrocarbons, both straight and branched chain. The one property which all materials classified as waxes have in common is thermo-plasticity. All are solids at ordinary temperatures and become liquid when heated to moderately high temperatures, usually below 250°F. Exceptions are some synthesized waxes which do have melting points above that temperature.
Traditionally, waxes have been classified in five types (45 major groupings), according to their origin):
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