COIT’s Guide to Removing Wax Stains - History and Chemical Components
After a long day, lighting a few candles over dinner or around your home can offer a few welcome moments of relaxation. In the era of always being connected and always being busy, there’s something nice about lowering the lights and taking a step back that is good for the body and soul.
Remove Wax Stains
So what can you do about the drippings of candle wax that accidentally make their way onto your plush carpeting? This COIT guide will offer do-it-yourself methods for removing candle wax in a few simple steps.
Before we talk candle wax removal, let’s take a closer look at the properties of wax to learn a bit more about this interesting chemical compound.
Chemical Composition of Wax
So what exactly is wax? Wax is a sticky yellow substance that is usually secreted by bees and is also referred to as beeswax. Technically speaking, wax is a class of chemical compounds that are plastic (malleable) near ambient temperatures. When wax is heated to above 115 degrees Fahrenheit, it melts.
Types of Wax
There are actually a few different types of wax:
• animal wax
• plant wax
• petroleum derived wax
• montan wax
• polyethylene and related derivatives
Animal Wax – beeswax is the most commonly used type of animal wax.
Plant Wax – plants secrete this type of wax to control their evaporation and hydration.
Petroleum Derived Waxes/Paraffin Wax – these waxes are hydrocarbons and represent a significant portion of petroleum.
Montan Wax – this type of wax is extracted from coal and lignite and is a fossilized wax.
Polyethylene and Related Derivatives – this wax is created by cracking polyethylene at 752 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now that you know a bit more about the types of wax that exist, let’s dive deeper into the history of wax.
Wax in the Middle Ages
If you look back in history, you can see that wax has been used since the days of the world’s first civilizations. Evidence of using wax seals to seal communications appears starting in the Middle Ages in Europe. At first, these wax seals were only used to authenticate and seal royal and clergy communications; however, the use of wax seals eventually spread throughout the various classes of society.
These wax seals were often used in place of someone’s signature, as not all people were literate. Their seal was a symbol that they were agreeing to the terms or conditions of agreements, contracts and wills.
Using Wax to Make Candles
For thousands of years, candles have been used as a source of light around the world. In fact, until the early 1900s, people depended on candles as the only source of artificial light. In early Egyptian and Roman times, candle wax was actually extracted from sheep and cattle. They melted the tallow (a hard fatty substance made from rendered animal fat) down to liquid form and poured it over a wick, which was usually made of hemp, cotton or flax.
Wax is obviously still a big part of modern life. Without it, how could we curl up on the couch, light a few candles and unwind from our hectic days?
Modern Times: Removing Candle Wax
If you’d like to learn more about wax stain removal, check out COIT’s guide to remove wax from carpet to learn do-it-yourself methods you can use at home.