Paraffin wax and regular wax are found in a wide range of products. Both categories of wax consist of saturated hydrocarbons, but the sizes of the hydrocarbon molecules are different for the two wax types.
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Both paraffin wax and regular wax, known as microcrystalline wax, are present in crude petroleum when it is extracted from the earth. These hydrocarbon compounds are separated from crude petroleum during the refining process.
Paraffin waxes are made of smaller molecules and have a lower melting point than regular waxes. Paraffin waxes have good burning qualities due to their relatively low melting points, and they make effective barriers to moisture. Regular waxes are tougher and more elastic than paraffin waxes, and they are more adhesive.
Paraffin waxes are used to make candles, wax paper, cosmetics, medical ointments, lubricants, electrical insulators, matches and many other products. Regular waxes are used to make adhesives, printing ink, laminated paper, coatings and many other products as well.
Sandy Stai has been writing professionally since 2010. Her areas of writing expertise include environmental science, industrial hygiene and the petrochemical industry. Stai holds a chemistry teaching license from the University of Minnesota, and a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Wisconsin.