Paraffin . It comes from the Latin voices parum (little) and affinis (affine), and refers to the common name of various solid, opaline, odorless substances, less dense than water and easily fusible, composed of a mixture of hydrocarbons that are normally chosen as by-product of the manufacture of lubricating oils derived from petroleum . It has multiple industrial and pharmaceutical applications.

Etymologically, the name paraffin means low affinity, alluding to the fact that paraffins do not maintain affinity with any other substance due to their low chemical reaction .


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  • 1 Features
  • 2 Manufacturing
  • 3 Uses
    • 1 Cosmetic industry
    • 2 Physiotherapy
    • 3 Other uses
  • 4 Application and results
  • 5 Sources


Paraffin is a group of alkane hydrocarbons of general formula CnH2n + 2, where n is the number of carbon atoms. Liquid paraffin is a mixture of heavier alkanes; It has different names and presentations including nuyol oil adepsina , albolin , glimol , medicinal paraffin, saxol , or mineral oil USP.

Medicinal liquid paraffin is used to aid bowel movement in people suffering from chronic constipation; it passes through the digestive tract without being assimilated by the body, but limits the amount of water excreted. It is also used as an excipient for some body creams. Some specialists use it in the symptomatic treatment of acute and chronic constipation. Used on dry skin as it hydrates, moisturizes, regenerates and protects the skin’s natural barrier and provides smooth and smooth skin.


It is generally obtained from oil, from bituminous shales or from coal. The process begins with a distillation at elevated temperature, to obtain heavy oils, from which by cooling to 0 ° C, the paraffin crystallizes, which is separated by filtration or centrifugation. The product is purified by recrystallizations, acid and alkaline washes, and discoloration.2 Petroleum refineries typically produce paraffin. It can also be obtained by thermal cracking of oil, where carbon chains are broken and 400º-650ºC heat is added.


The candle industry is one of the most important sectors of consumption of refined wax in the world, with paraffin being the preferred candle making industry. Furthermore, despite the progressive diversification of wax applications, candle manufacturing remains the destination for most of the paraffin produced in the world. It is a safe and natural product and its degree of refinement in the case of hydrotreated paraffins is such that they meet the demanding standards of the American FDA for food use.

Cosmetic industry

The cosmetic industry increasingly uses paraffin for its traditional use as a moisturizer for feet and hands, or as an active ingredient in creams (due to its consistency similar to petrolatum), reducing, firming treatment or in physiotherapeutic applications. The most valued property in paraffin is its moisturizing power.

With its application, moisture does not evaporate from the skin but remains in its inner layers, helping to hydrate, nourish it and, consequently, rejuvenate it. Therefore, it is very suitable for skin with dehydration, dryness, lack of elasticity, cracked or flaking skin.

When applying paraffin on the skin, a film is formed that retains the loss of hydration, maintaining the temperature of the skin. It behaves as a thermal insulator that induces the loss of liquids and the elimination of toxins.

The use of paraffin is widespread in beauty centers to improve especially the appearance of the feet and hands. The best time for its application coincides with sudden changes in temperature that facilitate water loss in the skin, since paraffin is a powerful moisturizer especially indicated for damaged skin.

The use of paraffin is included in deep hydration treatments, suitable for those cracked epidermis, with problems of dehydration, dryness or lack of elasticity. It can be used on the hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, feet, ankles, knees or thighs, and even as a face mask, although it is important that paraffin treatment on the face is only applied by a professional.


It is also used in physiotherapy as a therapeutic agent and pain reliever in rheumatological, arthritic, contractures, stiffness, tendinitis, strains, etc. As a reducing agent, liquid can be used on the dewlap, arms, abdomen, hips and legs.

Wax or paraffin baths are widely used in physical therapy as therapeutic agents and pain relievers. Containers for wax or paraffin baths have safety controls and temperature regulators that allow working safely with substances that are so flammable. With paraffin baths we obtain very useful local physiotherapy treatments for upper and lower limb rheumatological and arthritic processes, although hands and wrists are especially treated.

The treatment consists of introducing the affected member into the container containing the paraffin at a temperature between 45 and 55 degrees, so that successive layers of hot wax are deposited on the skin, until a number of ten to twelve overlapping layers is achieved. After this, the hand is wrapped, for example, with an insulating substance, prepared paper or plastic, and all of this, in turn, is wrapped again in a towel to avoid heat loss. It is thus kept for 15 to 20 minutes and it goes on to remove the wax from the affected member. Physical therapy treatments are performed daily until symptoms subside.

Other uses

  • In the fertilizer industry, special paraffins and mixtures are used as anti-caking additives to facilitate handling, transport and dosage.
  • Paraffins are used in different types of food such as in the covering of certain cheeses for the protection of their surface or for the production of the base gum, a fundamental ingredient in chewing gum. It is also used in citrus and other fruits to improve moisture retention, prolonging its life and freshness and giving them brilliance.
  • Paraffin is used as an additive in the production of tires, providing insulation against ozone and preventing cracks in them.
  • The amount of paraffin with which the surface of the matches is smeared, although minimal, helps to regulate the combustion of the matches.
  • Natural fibers contain substances with waxy properties that act as protective agents against atmospheric and biological influences. By treating the fibers, these substances are eliminated and with them the friction and absorption characteristics they provide, resulting in the loss of softness, flexibility and elasticity, making it necessary to reapply a suitable finish.
  • Paraffin is applied alone or mixed with other types of wax for polishing boards, acting as a lubricant and as a surface protector.
  • Paraffins are used as additives in the production of printing inks and varnishes to improve the resistance of products to rubbing or scratching or to obtain certain appearances and act as a barrier against water. They are also used as binder materials for enamels, lubricating agents, corrosion protection, etc.
  • It can also be used in explosives, vaselines, grafts, cork stoppers, among others.

Application and results

To apply paraffin, the area to be treated must be very clean and disinfected, and it is recommended to apply a moisturizing cream. Paraffin should be heated in an appropriate heater at an elevated temperature, between 45 and 55 degrees.

Then the paraffin is applied, and can be applied in two ways:

  1. Dipping the area to be treated in the container where the paraffin has been placed, separating the fingers to cover the entire surface to be treated. Next, the hands or feet are removed and the paraffin waits for solidification.
  2. Brushing the paraffin on the area to be treated, passing a brush or brush as many times as necessary to get a layer with an adequate thickness.

Once the paraffin is applied, the area is covered with an insulating substance, prepared paper or plastic, in addition to towels to keep warm. It is important that the client does not move to prevent the paraffin from breaking.

After about fifteen minutes, the wrappers and paraffin are carefully removed. For reducing treatments, liquid paraffin is applied to the area to be treated at a warm temperature and the application is accompanied with a massage to activate circulation. Then thermal blankets are applied to stimulate perspiration and the elimination of toxins. The paraffin is then removed and cold applied to cause vasoconstriction, and the treatment is completed with the application of a reducing cream.

In facial treatments, always carried out by a professional, the paraffin is applied with a brush or small brush on a gauze that will facilitate its subsequent removal. As many coats as necessary are applied to achieve proper consistency, and after about twenty minutes, the resulting hard coat is removed from the face.

After a paraffin treatment, the skin appears softer, smoother and looks better.


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