Is Sealing Wax Different From Candle Wax?

In a world where technological communications have become the norm, handwritten letters, and invitations are a way to infuse some personality and creativity into your messages. Who would want a Facebook invitation when you could have a well-thought-out invitation that sparkles with uniqueness?

One of the special ways to make your letters stick out is to use sealing wax to close your envelopes instead of the ubiquitous glue strip that most of them have. A wax seal is a stamped piece of wax that is usually melted onto the envelope before it is stamped, but not all wax is created equal. 

The most accessible type of melted wax in most households is candle wax, but is sealing wax different from candle wax?

Sealing wax is different from candle wax because it contains resin, while candle wax does not. Candle wax can also contain additives for scent in the form of oils that can make it unsuitable for use as sealing wax. 

Even if candle wax is different from sealing wax, can it still be used? In this article, we’ll look into this question and anything else you need to know about the differences between sealing wax and candle wax. 

Is Sealing Wax Different From Candle Wax?

A lot of people get the impression that candle wax and sealing wax are the same things because of representation in books and movies. There are plenty of scenes of someone dripping candle wax onto a prepared envelope and stamping it before sending it away. 

In reality, though, there are quite a few differences between sealing wax and candle wax. Because of the differing compositions, the two waxes aren’t interchangeable. Sealing wax is made from paraffin wax, resin, and coloring pigments like vermillion. Candles, on the other hand, are made from paraffin wax and scented oils.

The secret to sealing wax adhering to paper is the resin, also known as shellac. This helps the sealing wax dry hard and glossy, without the greasiness that would be present otherwise. 

Candle wax and sealing wax are both made from a base of paraffin wax, but because of the extra scented oils and the lack of resin, candle wax won’t adhere to paper the same way sealing wax will. There’s a good chance a letter sealed with candle wax will lose the wax seal in transit before it reaches its destination.

People that want to add a fun and sophisticated personal touch to their letters might find it easier to use the more readily available candle wax as a sealing wax substitute, but don’t be tempted! Sealing wax is affordable and available online and in craft stores. It’s more costly to ruin envelopes with candle wax than it is to just purchase the correct wax in the first place!

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Can I Use Candle Wax to Seal a Bottle?

For the same reason that candle wax won’t work for letters, candle wax is also not ideal for sealing bottles. Candle wax, when dried, can be both greasy or brittle, meaning it can flake away or crack off of the bottle. The resin in sealing wax prevents this brittleness, making it the best choice for sealing bottles.

The reason that candle wax is often used in place of sealing wax in the media is that back when the practice of sealing envelopes and bottles with wax came into use, candle wax and sealing wax were largely the same. 

Years ago, both candle and sealing wax would be made from beeswax, and while beeswax will still work in a pinch for sealing wax, it doesn’t have the hard, solid consistency when dried that modern sealing wax does. 

If you use sealing wax on your bottle, it should stay closed for as long as you need it to. Candle wax will leave behind a greasy residue, even on the mouth of the bottle, and no one wants a waxy bottle of wine!

What Kind of Wax Are Wax Seals?

Wax seals are paraffin wax, but we made the first version of wax seals from beeswax. 

Paraffin wax is a wax made from petroleum, coal, or shale and hydrocarbon molecules. Unlike beeswax, paraffin wax burns cleanly.  Paraffin wax was invented in the mid-1800s and was a turning point in the quality of candle making.

This soon led to paraffin wax being used as wax seals as well. Until this time, beeswax was the only type of wax used for both candles and wax sealing, and while it can still be found for other crafting and beauty applications, it is rarely seen as a burnable wax anymore. 

Coincidentally, there has been an uptick of people purchasing beeswax candles lately, wanting to use more natural products in their household. 

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What Is Sealing Wax Made Of?   

When referencing sealing wax, there are two different types; Medieval sealing wax and modern sealing wax.

Medieval sealing wax isn’t used much anymore, because modern sealing wax dries so much better. This older type of sealing wax would dry and become flaky and brittle. 

Medieval sealing wax was made with:

  • Beeswax
  • Color pigments 
  • Small amounts of resin

The process to make paraffin wax wasn’t around back when beeswax wax seals were commonplace, so these less sturdy wax seals were all that could be used. Coloring pigments could also be used on this older type of sealing wax, but in medieval times, color options were usually limited to red and black. 

Modern sealing wax is made from three ingredients:

  • Paraffin wax
  • Resin
  • Coloring pigment 

Paraffin wax and resin make up the majority of modern sealing wax. Color pigment is needed because paraffin wax, a wax made from petroleum, is transparent. Wax stamps won’t show up well on clear wax.

In Summary

  • Sealing wax is different from candle wax because of their compositions. Sealing wax has resin, candle wax does not. 
  • Candle wax can’t be used as sealing wax. It is too oily and lacks the holding power that proper sealing wax has.
  • Modern-day sealing wax is made from paraffin wax, while Medieval wax seals were crafted of beeswax. 

Read More About Sealing Wax!

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