Paraffin baths were once a pricey spa treatment available only to patrons or a soothing technique used in rehabilitation and medical programs. Fortunately, several home-product manufacturers have developed paraffin baths for individual use at home. Paraffin baths use heat and paraffin wax to give you smoother skin, to soothe aching muscles and to help you relax. Using your paraffin bath properly gives you the best chances of success without any type of injury from the heat of the wax and the bath.
Follow the directions for your particular paraffin bath model on how much wax to place into the bath. If you are simply using a crock pot at home, place 3 lbs. of wax into the pot and set to high. Allow the paraffin wax to melt, checking the temperature frequently with a candy thermometer. The wax is ready when it reaches around 115 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit, instructs Jim Clover in his book "Sports Medicine Essentials." Reduce the heat to medium to keep the temperature steady.
Wash the body part that you plan to place in the paraffin bath with warm water and soap. If your hands have oils or dirt on them, the wax may not stick as well, resulting in a sub-par experience. The hands and feet are the most common body parts to bathe in paraffin, but you can use the wax on any part of your body as long as it isn't sensitive to heat.
Dip the body part into the wax, and then remove it, allowing the excess to drip back into the bath. Allow the paraffin to harden for 10 seconds, and then dip into the bath once more. Continue the process until you've built up a coating that is five to seven layers thick, suggests the Ohio State University Medical Center. Unplug the bath or remove from the heat.
Wrap the wax with a towel to keep it warm while it remains on the body part that you've chosen to bathe. Allow the wax to stay on the body part for at least 20 minutes. Set a timer for accuracy. Once the time is up, carefully peel the wax away, revealing smoother skin underneath.
Keep the used wax if the paraffin is only for your private use, suggests Homedics.com. You can remelt and reuse the wax the next time that you use your paraffin bath. If someone else is using the bath, it's best to discard the used wax and use new bars the next time.
- Sports Medicine Essentials: Core Concepts in Athletic Training and Fitness: Jim Clover, 2001
- Ohio State University Medical Center: Paraffin Bath
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.