Wax polish recipes

2005

Waxes (Raw ingredients)

Beeswax
Comes out of bees. A "waste" product from honey production, get close to the source and they're only too happy to shift it. Soft, low melting point, but chemically fairly stable
Paraffin wax
Made from crude oil, and comes in a range of grades with varying hardness and melting point. Of fairly limited use. Usual material for candles. Chemically stable.
Stearin
A hard and opaque wax, used as an additive in candle making. Very little use for polishes. Cheaper than paraffin wax, so cheap candles may use a sizable proportion. Sintered candles and tea lights (made from squashed-together wax powder, rather than casting) are usually stearin.
Microcrystalline wax
Take paraffin wax and refine it until the paraffin has gone. The remains are microcrystalline wax. Chemically very stable. Too hard to use on its own.
Carnauba wax
Candelilla wax is similar, but even more so. These are hard vegetable waxes. Unusable alone, but they harden up other mixtures.

Waxes (Prepared recipes)

Simple beeswax polish

Hot melt 1 part beeswax in a double boiler and add 3 parts turpentine (genuine turpentine, not petroleum spirit based substitutes). Make at least a pint, because otherwise it's easier just to buy it (your beekeeper often sells it).

Creamed beeswax

A softer and easily buffed version that's good for leather. Can leave a residue in the pores of open-grained bone or wood.

5oz beeswax, melted in the double boiler.

Remove from heat and stir in 1 pint of turpentine in a large vessel.

Mix 1 tablespoon of ammonia with 1 pint of water.

Add the ammoniated water to the wax and stir hard.

Pot it while still warm.

Glossy wax polish

Good for polishing wood or bone to a high sheen.

Melt 3 parts beeswax with 1 part carnauba wax.

Remove from heat, stir in 3 parts of turpentine.

Bull wax

Shiny, but hard work.

Mix something like 2-3 parts of beeswax, 1 part of carnuaba and 1 part of candelilla wax in the double boiler.

Remove from heat, stir in turpentine - about three times as much as there is wax.

General guidance on making wax polishes

You should usually melt wax to mix it with a carrier like turpentine, then apply it cold. Hot-applied waxes tend to chill when they hit the cold surface and not penetrate.

Melt wax carefully with a double boiler, because it can catch fire otherwise. Alternatively use a controllable electric hotplate somewhere where you don't mind large hydrocarbon fires (don't use an exxtinguisher, just put the lid on and switch off the heat)

Grating wax on a cheesegrater, or just by shaving with a knife helps it melt more quickly.

Waxes (Commercial)

Simple beeswax
Just makes sure that's all that's in it.
Johnson's Paste Wax
A simple softened paraffin wax that's handy for metals.
Liberon's lubo wax
Cheap wax formulation, diluted to be a liquid. Dead easy to apply and buff out, barely visible when finished, but it's a good way to preserve machine tool tables from rusting.
Liberon's Black Bison wood polish
Good finishes for finishing wood, too hard for everyday polishing. "Clear" is yellowish, "neutral" is better as a clear wax. If you're using this on steelwork as well as wood, then keep separate tins and brushes.
Car polish
Nasty stuff with silicones in it. Avoid like the plague and don't allow it in the workshop. Any silicone contamination makes it impossible to do good finishing work in the workshop.

Other refs

Fine Woodworking #140 - Jan 2000
www.woodfinishsupply.com
www.kremer-pigmente.de
www.goldleaf.net
www.seppleaf.com