It is known for relieving chapped hands from chaffing, relieving joints from aching and stopping other painful skin ailments from slowing you down. Its lubricating properties are also used in other more industrial and surprising ways. The benefits of paraffin oil and paraffin wax are abundant. The natural emollient is used in everything from relieving dry skin on hands and feet to lubricating ball bearings in machines.
What Is Paraffin?
The petroleum-based waxes are created using crude oil. First, the saturated hydrocarbons are extracted from fossil fuels and refined to be used in many ways as a lubricating oil. The oil is then further refined to make paraffin wax.
Paraffin is an opaque and waxy mixture that is highly flammable. If it reaches above 125 degrees, it may catch fire.
Uses of Liquid Paraffin
Aside for use in skin treatments, there are many uses of liquid paraffin in many products, including:
- Electrical insulation
Paraffin wax is favored for a few reasons. It is:
- Clean-burning fuel source
- Water resistant
Paraffin for Moist Skin
Paraffin wax is most commonly used on the hands and feet. These areas tend to get cracked, chapped and dry. The natural emollient makes the skin soft and supple, adding moisture. A paraffin wax application also opens pores and removes dead skin cells as it hydrates.
Paraffin has a low melting point, which is what makes it ideal to apply to skin. It won’t burn or cause blistering because it doesn’t get very hot before it turns to a pliable material that warms the skin.
Therapeutic Benefits of Paraffin Wax
The properties of paraffin act as a heat therapy of sorts. Paraffin wax has been used to relieve pain in the hands and joints of people with numerous ailments, including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Muscle spasms
- Minor inflammation
Cosmetic and Medicinal Uses
Paraffin oil is used in cold creams, bronzing oils, makeup products and more for its hydrating qualities. Paraffin lotion use on a regular basis can increase a skin’s moisture retention. The liquid form of paraffin is used as a laxative because it can pass through the body without being absorbed.
Liquid Paraffin Oil in Industry
This highly distilled form of kerosene is refined so that it can safely be burned in lamps and other lighting sources. It is preferred for its lack of odor and soot.
Liquid paraffin is used widely in industrial settings for blades and ball bearings. It works well underwater and works well with hydraulic fluid in machinery.
It also is good at peeling away grit from the calloused palms and skin of those who work with cement.
Dangers of Paraffin Wax
There is a debate about the health concerns paraffin wax can create. Anyone with sensitive skin can have a negative reaction to paraffin wax, such as redness, minor swelling or skin irritation. Test it out on a small patch of skin before you cover a large area of your hands or feet.
Paraffin Wax Tools for Home Use
To safely complete a paraffin wax treatment at home, make sure you have all the supplies you’ll need from start to finish in place.
- 4 pounds of food-grade paraffin wax
- Double boiler
- Glass measuring cup
- Greased plastic container
- Plastic bag that can be sealed with a tie or cloth band
- Mineral oil
- Olive oil
- Tissue and paper towels
How to Use Paraffin at Home
Melt the wax in the top pan of the double boiler with plenty of water in the bottom pan to prevent scorching. Add a cup of mineral oil to the wax as it is warming. Once the wax has completely melted, pour it into the greased plastic container.
When a thin skin forms on the top of the wax, use the thermometer to check that it is 125 degrees. Apply olive oil to the skin where you plan to put the paraffin. Dip your hand or foot into the wax until a layer forms on the skin.
When the shine has dulled on the wax, return the hand or foot to the wax until you have 10 layers. Bag the area and wrap a towel over it while the paraffin wax works its moisturizing magic. Use tissues to wipe the wax from the skin and moisturize well.
Kimberley McGee has written for national and regional publications, including People magazine, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal and more. The award-winning journalist has covered home decor, celebrity renovations, and sat down with reality HGTV stars to discuss the latest trends.