Waxes ( from Old High German " wahs " like " honeycomb" and " weave " to Indo-European " ueg " [' weave ', ' fabric ']) are substances that are now defined by their mechanical and physical properties. Their chemical composition and origin, however, are very different.

A substance is referred to as wax, when it is kneaded at 20 ° C, solid to brittle, coarse to finely crystalline structure which is color translucent to opaque, but not glassy, melts above 40 ° C without decomposition, slightly above the melting point slightly runny ( low viscosity ) is, has a strongly temperature -dependent consistency and solubility and is polished under light pressure. If more than one of the properties listed above are not met, the substance for Fat Science [ DGF standard method MI 1 (75 ) ] is the definition of the German Society no wax.

Types of wax

Animal or vegetable waxes

Animal or vegetable waxes are waxes in the strict sense, they are among the lipids. Main components of these mixtures are esters (also called wax acids ) of fatty acids with long-chain aliphatic primary alcohols, the fatty alcohols as above. These esters differ in their construction of the fats and fatty oils, triglycerides of fatty acids. These waxes also contain free, long-chain, aliphatic carboxylic acids, ketones, alcohols and hydrocarbons. Prototype of a wax acid is the Montan acid ( Oktakosansäure ) C28H56O2. A precise demarcation between wax acids and fatty acids do not exist, since the construction of some natural waxes also typical fatty acids such as palmitic and stearic acid, are involved. For this construction results in a chemical definition of waxes, wherein the mechanical and physical properties mentioned above are not necessarily satisfied.

Animal waxes are, for example, spermaceti, lanolin and beeswax. Among the vegetable waxes include sugar cane wax or carnauba wax of the carnauba palm. Jojoba oil is not made of triglycerides and is therefore not a fixed oil, but in chemical terms, a liquid wax. Other vegetable waxes are candelilla wax, which is obtained from various Euphorbiaceae, and Japan wax. Layers of wax on leaves and fruits have the task of protecting plants against water loss.

Mycobacteria are the only known bacteria that form an outer shell made of special waxes that Phthiocerolen.

Earth waxes

Geological earth waxes ( ozokerite and ceresin made ​​therefrom ) consist mainly of hydrocarbons.

Synthetic Waxes

Synthetic waxes are obtained mainly from petroleum. The main component is paraffin wax, which is used for example for candles and shoe polish. For special applications, natural waxes are chemically modified or completely synthesized ( polyethylenes, copolymers). Also from soybean can be prepared by hydrogenating soybean wax.


Besides the already mentioned uses for candles, polishes, and Impregnation (eg wax paper for packaging), waxes are used in foundry and because of the good formability of wax figures. In the visual arts, artists models ( preliminary designs ) for sculptures made ​​of wax ago.

Jojoba wax and Japan wax is used in cosmetics. Even in medical products such as dental wax preparations, and as raw material for soap making, it will be used. On construction waxes are used for flooring and wood coating. Polished surfaces waxes impart a shiny appearance ( floor wax ), but also facilitate the sliding ( ski wax ). Beeswax and some other natural waxes are (mostly as a release agent ) authorized as a food additive.

For the historically accurate restoration of antique furniture ( to Biedermeier, from then shellac was used) is a special furniture wax, now commonly referred to as " antique wax " related. It is rubbed into the wood and then polished out. For a waxworks - as the name suggests - an indispensable wax material; these lifelike representations of the faces have been until today still unmatched by any plastic.


According to the legend used Daedalus, father of Icarus, wax to secure himself and his son springs on the arms and like a bird can fly. Icarus came the sun too close, which was allowed to melt the wax; he crashed and drowned in the sea.

Egyptian mummies are colored with wax crayons; this technique is called encaustic. Nowadays colored waxes are sold as crayons.

In the ancient and medieval medicine was the " untouched " virgin wax (of the non-incubated honeycomb ) in the preparation of various drug use.

Sealing wax was used until the 16th century for sealing documents. It was then replaced with the sealing wax known as Spanish wax.

Wax tablets were used in Greece and Rome as a basis for writing notes, because the writing could be deleted.

In the Middle Ages the competent craftsman was a highly respected profession: gingerbread makers. He produced fine expensive candles ( light measurement ), honey and gingerbread.

During the Renaissance, Baroque and Classicism in the valuable furniture were rubbed with wax and polished.

Especially at places of pilgrimage originated wax works, also called Monastery work of wax, about the known Fatschenkindel.

From the late 19th century until the 1920s they used in phonograph rolls wax only as a sound carrier for a precursor of the dictation and later continued as the source material for the original recording, which could then be reproduced by gilding in different processes. Also always served for the products produced from 1895 to 1955 vintage records and for the more familiar singles and LPs a wax plate first for the original recording, after the Second World War, after all, even to dub the tape - recording. Following the silver wax plate was used as a template for the production of template copy, with which then the records could be pressed masse.