Today we’re continuing my “quick guide” series with another wax—ceresine! I picked some up from TKB Trading last year and figured it was high time we got better acquainted. Ceresine (or ceresin) wax is derived from ozokerite, which is a “naturally occurring fossil wax found near soft shale” (source). Appearance-wise it’s a fairly typical wax—small white beads that don’t look too different from refined beeswax other than being a bit more translucent. It is used for all the usual jobs you’d expect to find wax doing; thickening, hardening, stabilizing, and generally modifying the viscosity of oily things/oil phases (look for it in products like lipsticks and hair pomades). The melting point of ceresine is approximately 60°C (140°F), which is around that of beeswax, which melts at approximately 63°C (145°F)—this gave me hope it could be a good vegan alternative to beeswax!

A Quick Guide to Ceresine Wax and Liquid Oil Ratios

I structured this experiment the same way I’ve structured all my previous wax quick guide experiments, using ratios. If I were to start doing this all over again I’d probably work off percentages rather than ratios, but for the sake of easy cross-experiment comparison, I’m sticking with the ratio thing (for now, at least). I melted the wax together with a liquid oil (olive oil) in a water bath, swirled to combine the melted mixture and let them set up before making my observations. When referring to the ratios, the first number is the wax, the second is the olive oil, so 2:1 is 2 parts wax to 1 part oil, while 1:5 is one part wax to five parts olive oil (by weight!).

A Quick Guide to Ceresine Wax and Liquid Oil Ratios

A Quick Guide to Ceresine Wax and Liquid Oil Ratios

The first thing I did was poke and prod at the set mixture to get an idea for how firm it was. Rock hard? Easily dented? Did my finger go straight through to the bottom of the dish or go nowhere? From there I’d check to see how the mixture felt on my skin; did it melt readily? Was it skinny or silky? Soft, hard, sticky, oily? Creamy or greasy? Basically, how is this working, and what is it doing? Here’s what I learned:

2:1 (66.66% wax)

Very solid—I can’t press a finger through it at all. I can scrape up tiny shavings with a fingernail; they don’t melt quickly and are a bit dusty. The shavings are lightweight and I can sprinkle them around like sawdust. When I try to massage a shaving into the skin I’m not sure if it’s melting or just being mashed away into nothing.

1:1 (50% wax)

Also very solid; I can press the mixture with a fingertip to the point of pain without denting the mixture at all. Shavings brought up with a fingernail are larger than in the 2:1 mixture. The mixture does not melt quickly on the hand, mostly just sitting there. If massaged into the skin it has fairly decent slip and movement, but does not really melt—it mostly just softens a bit. There’s a noticeable creamy tack when tapped with a finger, even when spread quite thin and no longer visible.

1:2 (33.33% wax)

I can press through this mixture with a solid amount of pressure. The mixture is malleable and does start to melt when handled, though not quickly. It massages into the skin nicely with a rich, creamy skin feel. Some tack/grab when tapped with a finger.

1:3 (25% wax)

I can press through this mixture with a good amount of pressure—it does not seem significantly softer than the 1:2 mixture. A blob of the mixture does not melt readily on the skin, though it does soften and has good glide when massaged into the skin. Rich skin feel and good playtime, absorbing at average speed leaving the skin feeling soft and a bit tacky. Reminiscent of beeswax.

1:4 (20% wax)

Still quite firm, but can be pressed through with a finger. Does not melt readily on the skin, but some small clumps do start to visibly start to soften around the edges after about 20 seconds on the skin. Massages in readily with good slip and skin feel. Slight tack on the skin, a bit like sweaty skin on a leather car seat in warm weather.

1:5 (16.66% wax)

Starting to be noticeably softer, though still has good structure and is definitely still solid. A smear of the mixture on the skin quickly starts to appear translucent around the edges as it warms and softens. Lovely rich, creamy slip when massaged into the skin. Dries down at average speed with that same beeswax-y/skin on leather skin feel.

1:6 (14.28% wax)

Very similar to 1:5, just slightly softer. The mixture has good structure but melts down quickly when massaged into the skin.

1:7 (12.5% wax)

The softest of the lot, but still on the solid side of things. Fairly quick melt when left in contact with the skin. The top of the mixture is a bit firmer than the bottom, which has a bit of an oil-gel consistency. Beautiful slip, average dry-down time, quite reminiscent of beeswax.

Lessons Learned

  • Ceresine wax has a nice rich, creamy feel with a bit of tack at higher usage levels
  • It’s a strong hardener/thickener
  • Out of all the waxes I’ve tried, this one is the closest to beeswax, though perhaps a bit firmer

Observations Chart

 

Hard? Solid? Melt speed Sticky? Slip
2:1 Extremely Yes None No, but I think that’s because it doesn’t seem to melt into the skin. Poor
1:1 Very Yes Barely softens Tacky/grabby Poor
1:2 Yes Yes Very slow Tacky/grabby OK
1:3 Yes Yes Slow Tacky Good
1:4 Firm Yes Slow Slight tack Great
1:5 Firm Yes Average No Great
1:6 No Soft solid Average No Great
1:7 No Soft solid Average to fast No Great

What do you think? Have I piqued your interest? Watch for recipes featuring ceresine wax in the future!

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