Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Looking for a solvent for wax (paraffin)

  1. Apr 18, 2012 #1
    Really I'm looking for a good carrying agent that will dissolve paraffin wax, but preferably that also evaporates quickly AND doesn't come with serious health concerns. Basically, I'm trying to make a rust inhibitor using paraffin....where it can be applied and then the solvent evaporates quickly (minute or two?), leaving behind only the wax coating on the surface to which it was applied.

    I've tried: acetone (didn't dissolve the wax), mineral spirits (didn't dissolve wax and slow evap rate), naphtha (didn't seem to dissolve wax....and the evaporation rate was too slow anyway), turpentine (DID dissolve wax....but the evaporation rate seems a bit slow).

    Thanks in advance to anyone who can solve this one! Right now I'm kinda considering xylene, but I don't know for sure it fits the bill (fast evaporation, dissolves wax and won't make you sick).
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 22, 2012 #2
    The short story is that paraffin wax is too crystalline to make an effective rust inhibitor on iron, and does not adequately wet the surface to make effective gas and moisture barrier. If you can find a crystal modifier and have that make your paraffin behave more like vaseline (an isoparraffin complex that remains a viscous fluid) then you might achieve the effect of wartime storage methods which involved complete immersion in "Cosmoline" a vaseline like material.

    Your second aspect- i.e. looking for a more volatile solvent will have you quickly come up against flammability issues. The reason mineral spirits and turpentine are useful is precisely because they have a Flashpoint that is high enough to lessen the regulatory and safety concerns in industry.

    The rust inhibiting industry makes use of fluidic surfactant -like molecules that can form a monomolecular film against moisture one end is polar enough to wet the metal or otherwise bond, and the other ends are typically alkyne that can form a liquid crystal structure.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook