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TIP: Make Your Own Paste Wax

carnauba colorants commercial japan-pigment the finishing store wax wood woodfinishing woodwork woodworking

Commercial brands of paste wax are as good as anything you can make yourself, but you may still want to make your own just for fun or to get a specific color or shine. Here’s how to do it.

Grate the wax, or combination of waxes, into a container. Carnauba is available in flake form, so just put it in the container. Add turpentine, mineral spirits or naphtha in the ratio of about ½ pint of solvent to one pound of wax. Then put the container into a pot of water and heat it over a flame, stirring as necessary.

Never put the wax and solvent directly over a heat source; it can catch fire.

After the wax and solvent have combined and cooled, the consistency should be about that of butter in summertime. If you want it thicker, add more wax and reheat. If you want it thinner, add more solvent and reheat.

You can add rottenstone or oil- or Japan-pigment colorants to the wax while it’s still in liquid form and stir it in. Add enough colorant to make the color uniform. You can also add an oil-soluble dye by dissolving and thinning it first in naphtha or toluene.

The degree of shine or gloss corresponds to the melting temperature of the wax. Though the differences aren’t great, carnauba wax has a higher melting point, and thus a higher gloss, than beeswax, and beeswax has a higher melting point, and thus a higher gloss, than paraffin wax.



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