What’s the Difference Between Wax and Paraffin?

Chemistry, Language
[caption id="attachment_28810" align="alignright" width="480"] Not paraffin... Bees wax candles.[/caption]What's the Difference Between Wax and Paraffin? Waxes and paraffin would seem to refer to the same thing, and perhaps to some extent, the words are used interchangeably. In fact, paraffin is sometimes called paraffin wax or petroleum wax. Nevertheless, technically, they are different, and the difference should interest us. Let's begin with what a wax is. Waxes Waxes are esters1 of a long-chain alcohol2 (12 to 32 carbon atoms) with a fatty acid. One example of a long-chain alcohol is lauryl alcohol (CH3(CH2)11OH). But what is a fatty acid? A fatty acid is (typically) a carboxylic acid that has a long carbon chain3. One example is palmitic acid (CH3(CH2)14COOH). Palmitic acid is a saturated4 fatty acid. Some fatty acids are unsaturated.…
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