Nature 135, 113-113 (19 January 1935) | doi:10.1038/135113a0

History and Uses of Paraffin Wax


IN his paper read before the Institution of Petroleum Technologists on December 11, 1934, on the “Utilization of Paraffin Wax and Petroleum Ceresin”, Mr. P. G. Higgs outlined the history of petroleum wax from its discovery in 1830 to its production on a commercial scale. Its use for a long time was restricted, since combustibility alone of all its useful properties was universally acknowledged as of market value. Time has shown, however, that paraffin wax can be used in cases where its characteristics of resistance to water, inertness, good electrical properties, etc., are invaluable. Thus to-day, apart from its chief function as an illuminant, it is employed, for example, as a proofing agent for porous materials, in the manufacture of waxed paper and paper boards, as an external coating to wooden receptacles for the preservation of foodstuffs, as an ingredient of polishes and in the electrical industry for insulating purposes. In addition, it is used in the form of an aqueous emulsion in the sizing of paper, as a size in the weaving of cotton, and as a glossing agent in the laundry trade.