Waxes are among the oldest worked materials used by humans. Their value as versatile construction materials ("man's first plastic") was discovered very early. Today, waxes are used mostly as additives and active substances. The use of waxes is expected to increase in the future because of their generally favourable toxicological and ecological properties.
The word "wax" usually refers to a variety of organic substances that are solid at ambient temperature but become free-flowing liquids at slightly higher temperatures. The chemical composition of waxes is complex, but normal alkanes are always present in high proportion and molecular weight profiles tend to be wide. The main commercial source of wax is crude oil but not all crude oil refiners produce wax. "Mineral" wax can also be produced from lignite. Plants, animals and even insects produce materials sold in commerce as "wax."
Wax emulsions are now well established and extensively used in aqueous formulations such as coatings, inks and OPVs, textile and leather treatments, polishes, paper and cardboard coatings, etc. These ready-to-use emulsions can be easily incorporated by simple mixing. Their very fine particle size ensures an intimate and homogeneous incorporation within other ingredients of the formulation, maximizing the required effect(s).
Wax emulsions can be stabilized by either a steric mechanism (using with non-ionic emulsifiers) or by an electrostatic mechanism (using ionic emulsifiers, most often anionics). Combining anionic and non-ionic emulsifiers gives the emulsion an optimum stability because wax particles are protected through both stabilization mechanisms referred to as the electro-steric stabilization mechanism. In addition to giving more flexibility in formulating, each stabilization mechanism has not only its own advantages and disadvantages but also significantly impacts on the overall formulation.
Polyethylene wax is used in many applications to improve processing and end product properties. It is widely used in plastic, rubber and electrical industry, up to in ink, paint, detergent and chemical engineering industry, wax becomes more important product then ever in general industrial field as raw material additive improving its efficiency. As a whole it is a good project for new entrepreneurs to invest.