Wax emulsion is a mixture of one or more waxes in water. Waxes are usually immiscible with water under stable temperature and pressure. Wax emulsions usually refers to oil in water emulsion of any kind of wax. In order to make them miscible with water, waxes are mixed with surfactants. Waxes have a significant impact on several formulations and processes. Hence, they are used in various application. The wax emulsion process takes place above the melting point of the different waxes used.
There exist three types of waxes: natural wax, semi-synthetic wax, and synthetic wax. Natural waxes are derived from fossil fuel for expample paraffin wax and montan wax. Paraffin waxes are oil-based waxes obtained from crude oil, while montan waxes are carbon-based waxes derived from coal. Natural waxes such as beeswax and carnauba are also obtained from living organisms. Beeswax is animal-based whereas carnauba wax is vegetable-based.
Semi-synthetic waxes are obtained in laboratory from natural materials. Amide wax is predominantly used as a semi-synthetic wax. It is derived through condensation of fatty acids and amines. Polyethylene such as low density polyethylene (LDPE) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) are some of the synthetic waxes used globally.
Increasind demand for wax emulsions is primarily attributed to the rise in construction activities in developing and under-developed countries and lack of substitutes for wax emulsions which serves the same purpose. Other properties such as water resistance, abrasion resistance, slip control, lubrication, and anti-blocking also propel the demand for wax emulsion, globally.
Wax emulsion based products are widely utilized in formulation of paints, printing inks, textiles, and floor polishes. Automotive coatings, metal working, packaging films, and anti-transpiration products as well as wood and timber protection. They are employed in sectors such as agriculture also. In printing inks wax emulsions are used to impart anti-scuff properties and more importantly, anti-blocking properties. Polyethylene wax emulsions are used in the textile industry on both natural and synthetic fibers. Wax emulsions are widely used in interior wood finishes as well as for the outdoor timber treatment. Interior wood finishes are enhanced by the addition of a wax emulsion. Polyethylene wax emulsions are an ideal additive for water-based coatings due to their physical stability, small particle size and ease of handling. Oxidized polyethylene waxes is an essential component of liquid floor polishes. Addition of wax imparts properties such as water resistance, gloss, durability, black heel mark resistance, and self-healing.
Some of the manufacturers and suppliers of wax emulsion products include Kemie Industries, The Darent Wax Company Ltd., BASF SE, Altana AG, Sasol Ltd., The Dow Chemical Company, Exxon Mobil Corporation, Nippon Seiro Co., Ltd, Michelman Inc., Danquinsa GmbH, Clariant, HRD Corporation and others.