The Universal Selection Source: Coatings Ingredients

Wax Emulsions for Coatings: Techno Brief

How to improve specific surface effects using wax emulsions is often a challenge for formulators. This technology brief will describe the mechanisms by which waxes work, their applications, and how to formulate with wax emulsions & dispersions. It also describes the risks and benefits of Wax Emulsions depending on your application.

Wax Types and Properties

Wax is a generic term that encompasses materials that have some specific properties such as:

  • Solid at 20°C, varying from soft / plastic to brittle / hard
  • A mp > 40°C without decomposing
  • A relatively low viscosity slightly above the melting point
  • Transparency to opaque, but not glass-like
  • Buffable under slight pressure

This includes:

  • Natural products based on C16 - C 36 Fatty Acids or
  • Some synthetic polymers with Mw from 700 to 10.000

Waxes are often classified according to their origin as illustrated in Table below:

Naturally Occuring Waxes
Synthetic Waxes
Animal Vegetable Mineral
Beeswax Carnauba Montan PP, PE & PTFE
Lanolin Candellila Paraffin Fischer-Tropsch
Lanocerin Jojoba Microcrytalline Fatty Acid Amine
Shellac Ouricourl Intermediate PTFE
Ozokerite     Polyamide
PP = polypropylene
PE = polyethylene
HDPE = High Density Polyethylene
PTFE = Polytetrafluoroethylene
Table 1: Wax Classification

Table 2 summarizes the main wax properties and corresponding effects imparted or improved in paint, coating and ink formulations.

Main Performances
  • High melting naturally occuring wax
  • Different grades (T1, T2, T3)
  • Hard & brittles
  • Excellent clarity
  • Generally Recognised As Save

  • Slip & Lubricity
  • Anti-Blocking
  • Mar Resistance

  • Various grades, hence properties depending on refinement degree
  • Hard to oily feeling
  • Mainly composed of straight alkane chains, hence some parafffin's have good crystalline structure, giving excellent barrier effects against water repellency
  • Very low polarity
  • Anti-Blocking
  • Water Repellency
  • Slip & Lubricity

  • Obtained by polymerization of Ethylene monomers
  • Various grades, hence properties depending on Mw and polymerisation process
  • Two main families: LDPE and HDPE (Low and High Density PE) whose difference is the extend and type of branching
  • LDPE's display more thoughness, better scuff / mar resistance and are more flexible
  • HDPE's contribute to better slip properties and abrasion resistance
  • Slip
  • Abrasion Resistance
  • Anti-Blocking
  • Obtained by polymerization of propylene monomers
  • Good film toughness but poor slip & lubricity properties
  • Not really a wax but often classify as such because of impact to surface properties
  • Anti-Slip
  • Anti-Blocking
  • Abrasion Resistance
  • Obtained by polymerization of C2F4 monomers
  • High melting point and outstanding heat resistance properties (up to 600°F)
  • Give the lowest known CoF, hence excellent slip & lubricity, anti-blocking and abrasion resistance
  • Chemically inert
  • Not really a wax but often classify as such because of impact to surface properties
  • Slip & Lubricity
  • Anti-Blocking
  • Abrasion Resistance
Table 2: Wax Properties and Performances

Wax can easily be incorporated into liquid formulations in an emulsion or dispersion form (see Wax Emulsions & Dispersions)

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