Paraffin Wax

What is Paraffin Wax?

Paraffin wax (chemical formula: CnH2n+2), is a colourless solid that has a faint odour. It is soluble in benzene, chloroform, ether and oils. It mixes well with vegetable oils and it also floats on water.

What is Paraffin Wax used for?

Paraffin wax is used across a range of products and applications including:

  • Adding water resistance to woods and fabrics
  • Candles 
  • Lubricants and greases
  • Floor and car polishes
  • Surfboard wax
  • Cosmetics
  • Wax paper
  • Wood finishing
  • Lava lamps
  • Crayons
  • Coatings for some types of cheeses
While most modern candles are made from paraffin wax, being a byproduct of petroleum has raised some concerns about their toxicity
While most modern candles are made from paraffin wax, being a byproduct of petroleum has raised some concerns about their toxicity

Paraffin Wax Hazards

The routes of exposure for paraffin wax include inhalation, ingestion and skin and eye contact. 

Inhalation of paraffin wax may cause drowsiness, dizziness, reduced alertness, loss of reflexes, lack of coordination and vertigo. Inhalation may also worsen existing conditions such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, circulatory or nervous system damage or kidney damage. 

Ingestion of large quantities of paraffin wax may have a laxative effect, however the chemical has not been classified as “harmful by ingestion” due to the lack of animal and human evidence. 

Eye exposure can cause irritation characterised by inflammation and temporary redness. 

Paraffin Wax Safety

If inhaled, remove the patient from the contaminated area to the nearest fresh air source. Lay the patient down and ensure they are kept warm and rested. If the patient is not breathing and you are qualified to do so, administer CPR (preferably with a bag-valve mask device). Seek urgent medical attention. 

If swallowed, immediately provide a glass of water to the patient. First aid is generally not required, but if in doubt, seek medical attention. 

If skin exposure occurs, remove contaminated clothing and flush the affected skin and hair with running water and soap. In the event of burns, immediately immerse the area with cold water, or wrap the area with a saturated cloth. Seek urgent medical attention.

If paraffin wax is exposed to the eyes, flush the eyes out immediately with fresh running water, remembering to wash under the eyelids. Contact lenses should be removed by a skilled professional. If thermal burns occur on the eyes, pad both eyes, ensuring the dressing does not press on the injured eye.  Seek urgent medical attention. 

Paraffin Wax Safety Handling

Emergency eyewash fountains should be accessible in the immediate area of the potential exposure to the chemical and there should always be adequate ventilation to remove or dilute any air contaminants (install local exhaust if necessary). 

The PPE recommended when handling paraffin wax includes safety glasses with side shields, chemical goggles, dust respirators, lab coats, overalls, PVC aprons and rubber or PVC gloves. A skin barrier and cleansing cream is also recommended in the event of skin exposure.

Paraffin wax can present several health hazards when the proper safety precautions are not taken. Always refer to the SDS to ensure you have the proper knowledge to safely handle the chemical. Click here for a trial of our SDS Management Software or contact us at sa***@ch*******.net for more information about our chemicals management solutions.