Where Do Waxes Come From?
When we think of wax, we usually think of the material candles are made of. Wax is produced both naturally and artificially. It comes from animal, vegetable, and mineral sources.
Beeswax is perhaps the best-known type of animal wax. It comes from wax pockets on the bees’ bodies and is used to build the honeycomb.
Vegetable waxes, used in polishes for furniture and shoes, come from the waxy covering on the leaves and stalks of certain plants. Paraffin wax, used for forming airtight covers on jars of jelly, is a mineral wax that comes from petroleum.
Waxes are a diverse class of organic compounds that are hydrophobic, malleable solids near ambient temperatures. They include higher alkanes and lipids, typically with melting points above about 40 °C (104 °F), melting to give low viscosity liquids.
Waxes are insoluble in water but soluble in organic, non-polar solvents. Natural waxes of different types are produced by plants and animals and occur in petroleum.
Waxes are organic compounds that characteristically consist of long alkyl chains. Synthetic waxes are long-chain hydrocarbons (alkanes or paraffin’s) that lack substituted functional groups. Natural waxes may contain un-substituted hydrocarbons, such as higher alkanes, but may also include various types of substituted long chain compounds, such as fatty acids, primary and secondary long chain alcohols, ketones and aldehydes. They may also contain esters of fatty acids and long chain alcohols.