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What is paraffin wax?


Chocolate Coconut Cherry Balls: Paraffin Wax
johnnystiletto/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0
Question: What is paraffin wax?
What is paraffin wax and why is it in my chocolate candy recipe? Is it edible? Where can I find it?
Answer: Paraffin wax, classified as a chemical preservative, is widely used on fruits, vegetables, and candy to make them shiny and pretty as well as to retard moisture loss and spoilage. Waxes are made from vegetable oils, palm oil derivatives, and synthetic resins, as well as other materials. Some people, notably those who are allergic to aspirin, may be sensitive to many waxes, depending on their ingredients.

Yes, it is edible. Paraffin wax is often added to chocolates. The addition of paraffin to the chocolate candy gives it a nice, glossy finish and helps it remain solid at room temperature. Be aware that paraffin is flammable when overheated, so warm it gently in a double-boiler or microwave only to the point where it is melted.

You can find paraffin wax, also sometimes called baker's wax or canning wax, in your grocery store where canning jars and supplies are sold. Paraffin is still commonly used (although not recommended) to seal home-canned jellies and jams. However, some paraffin is not intended to be ingested, such as that sold for candlemaking, so check the label.

Gulf Wax Paraseal Canning Wax, Household Paraffin Wax is a popular brand of paraffin used for canning and chocolate-making.

Candy Recipes
Paraffin Photo © 2007 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.

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