Paste Wax – Make it Harder & Glossier
The first big investigation I ever did for an article in a woodworking magazine was on paste waxes. I collected 13 different brands and tried to figure out the differences. I also read as much as I could find on wax.
This was all brought back to me when I got into the long discussion about wax that I told you about in my last post. My friend was trying to figure out how to create a paste wax that was harder and glossier than commercial brands. As I had learned in my research years ago, hardness corresponds with melting point and gloss. So a very hard wax such as carnauba has a higher melting point (about 180° F.) than beeswax (about 150°) than paraffin wax (about 130°). It also has a higher shine.
So the obvious solution for my friend was to use pure carnauba wax. But the problem is that it gets so hard it’s almost impossible to buff off, even with an electric polisher. Manufacturers who use carnauba in their waxes (often advertising this on the label) blend it with softer waxes to make it workable. The optimum melting point for the blends seems to be around 150 degrees.
This blend isn’t necessarily optimal for the highest shine and hardness, however. It could be that a higher shine and hardness could be achievable and still be possible to buff out. So I suggested that an easy way to experiment would be to get a can of commercial paste wax and dissolve more and more carnauba wax flakes into it until it becomes no longer workable. Do this by putting some of the commercial wax and some carnauba flakes into a container, and heat it in a pot of hot water until the two can be mixed by stirring. Never heat the wax directly over a flame, or it could catch fire.
– Bob Flexner