Today we’re getting better acquainted with ozokerite wax—a very hard mineral wax similar to ceresine wax. Historically “ozokerite [is/was] a naturally occurring fossil wax found near soft shale“, but today what we call “ozokerite wax” is made from petroleum waxes like microcrystalline wax and paraffin. Unlike most waxes we work with, ozokerite wax is a pretty varied product because it is manufactured from blends of petroleum wax, and those blends can vary. A search of UL Prospector turns up quite a few results for products that have a fairly large range of melting points (as low as 54°C/130°F and as high as 101.7°C/215°F!). The different waxes have trade names like “Ozokerite 2095” and “EU Ozokerite 167/175”, but the INCIs for all of these waxes is plain ol’ “ozokerite”, leaving room for general confusion as all the ozokerite I’ve seen for sale to home crafters is just listed as “ozokerite”. The wax I’m using today is from TKB Trading. I haven’t had an opportunity to try ozokerite from any other suppliers.
As soon as I started getting into the melting bit of this experiment I knew this wax was different from others I’ve worked with. I put it in the water bath and waited… and waited… and pretty much nothing happened. TKB Trading lists the melting point of their ozokerite as “between 140–200 degrees Fahrenheit” (60–93.3°C), which is a pretty massive 33°C (91°F) range. 33°C can be the difference between winter coat and sundress weather! (For comparison, the ozokerite sold by Making Cosmetics lists the melting point at a much narrower 73–76°C [164–169°F]). Given that water boils at 100°C (212°F) (though in Calgary elevation lowers that to 96.6°C), and a simmering water bath wasn’t doing the trick, I’d estimate the wax I have (from TKB Trading) is closer to the upper end of that range.
Since the water bath melting method wasn’t working, I melted the contents of each little dish in a 107°C/225°F oven, swirled to combine, and left the dishes to set up undisturbed at room temperature (as per my usual wax-to-oil experiment methodology). Things continued to be different. Instead of solidifying into a selection of uniform discs of wax and oil mixtures, I ended up with uneven, pock-marked mixtures of wax with little pools of oil peeking out, like tide pools. Upon squishing and smooshing it became super apparent that these experiments hadn’t solidified in an even vaguely uniform manner, making the results for that round somewhat useless on the “what ratios do what front”. I examined them anyways to see what I could learn:
1:1 (50% ozokerite wax, cooled undisturbed at room temperature)
Appears very solid, with several hairline cracks across the surface of the mixture. There are two little darker circles on the middle with semi-translucent edges and centers. It is rock hard to the touch—I can’t press through it at all or even make a dent. It is apparent the mixture did not solidify uniformly when I rub my finger across the surface; the darker semi-translucent areas have a bit of creamy slip, while the opaque white areas are skiddy and very hard. I can scrape up some of the mixture with the back of a fingernail and massage that into the back of my hand—it feels quite waxy and sticky. I can spread it out on the skin and it does seem to massage in, but it doesn’t seem to melt at all. It leaves the skin feeling very sticky.
1:2 (33.33% ozokerite wax, cooled undisturbed at room temperature)
More uneven cooling—the center is darker/semi-translucent while the outside is solid. There are hairline cracks through the mixture to the bottom of the bowl. I can press through the solid-looking bits and get an audible cracking noise—it’s harder on the surface and softer & gooey underneath. Further smooshing yields several shards of hard waxy bits and then a softer under-layer. The soft underpart massages into the skin really nicely, but of course we don’t know what the wax concentration is for the soft bits (or the hard bits, for that matter). Good slip, dries down fairly quickly, slight creamy skin feel.
1:3 (25% ozokerite wax, cooled undisturbed at room temperature)
Similar appearance to 1:2—hairline cracks, semi-translucent circle in the middle of a more opaque mixture. The squishing experience is also similar—hard shards + softer layer underneath. The underlayer has the same skin feel as in 1:2.
1:4 (20% ozokerite wax, cooled undisturbed at room temperature)
The one looks pretty uniform—there’s no obvious semi-translucent circle, but I think I can see a hint of a darker center. Pressing through the mixture reveals a hard shell top and a softer oil-gel like gooey under-layer. The oil-gel bit feels just like slightly thick olive oil with perhaps a touch of extra creaminess.
1:5 (16.66% ozokerite wax, cooled undisturbed at room temperature)
Another relatively uniform looking one, similar to 1:4. Dark center, a few hairline cracks. I can easily press through the hard waxy shell. Underneath there are two distinct parts—a thicker oil and a creamier salve-like substance. The softer parts massage into the skin beautifully; the hard shards don’t melt on the skin.
1:6 (14.28% ozokerite wax, cooled undisturbed at room temperature)
Looks and behaves just like 1:5—a thin shell with an underlayer of thicker oil and creamy salve-like mixture.
1:7 (12.5% ozokerite wax, cooled undisturbed at room temperature)
This one looks a bit like a lake. There’s a semi-translucent circle surrounded by “shores” of opaque mixture. I can easily smash a finger through the “shores” to reveal the same hard shell + oil gel thing most previous mixtures have had.
1:8 (11.11% ozokerite wax, cooled undisturbed at room temperature)
Another “lake” mixture. The lake does not run when the bowl is held upside down. I can easily push a finger through the top shell, it snaps into flakes and reveals a gooey oil-gel underlayer.
Given that round #1 didn’t yield any uniform mixtures that could be used to assess the thickening powers of the wax, I re-melted my experiments in a 107°C/225°F oven after my first round of observations. Once the mixtures were all completely liquid a swirled to combine and then put the entire lot in the fridge to chill for about an hour, and then removed to come to room temperature before examining. As soon as I pulled the tray from the fridge I knew these would be better results—all but the last two (1:7 & 1:8) appeared uniform. Phew.
1:1 (50% ozokerite wax, cooled undisturbed in the fridge)
Appears solid and uniform, with quite a few hairline cracks. It is super hard—I cannot press a thumb through it. Using the back of a thumbnail I can scrape up some ribbony shavings, which can be smooshed around into the skin but don’t melt. Tacky, pasty feel.
1:2 (33.33% ozokerite wax, cooled undisturbed in the fridge)
Uniform appearance with hairline cracks. If pressed quite firmly it splits into several large chunks. The chunks glide across the skin fairly easily, with a light, emollient feel. Some tack, slight creamy feel.
1:3 (25% ozokerite wax, cooled undisturbed in the fridge)
Uniform appearance with hairline cracks. Quite firm, but I can press through it with a combination of a squish/snap. It forms firm, flat pieces like 1:2 did, but upon handling they become softer and creamier. Good slip and skin feel with some creaminess and slight tack.
1:4 (20% ozokerite wax, cooled undisturbed in the fridge)
Uniform appearance with hairline cracks. It can be pressed into fairly easily and shows some traces of the hard top/soft belly of the non-chilled experiments earlier, but the top layer is very fine—paper-thin. The opaque creamy under-bit rubs into the skin nicely, melting readily. Good slip and play time, settling into a slightly tacky/creamy skin feel somewhat reminiscent of beeswax.
1:5 (16.66% ozokerite wax, cooled undisturbed in the fridge)
Uniform appearance with hairline cracks. I can press into it fairly easily. There is a paper-thin harder top layer, with a thick creamy mixture underneath. Similar skin feel to 1:4.
1:6 (14.28% ozokerite wax, cooled undisturbed in the fridge)
Uniform appearance with hairline cracks. Same paper-thin hard shell top, though the under bits are taking on more of an oil-gel appearance. Lovely ointment-y skin feel.
1:7 (12.5% ozokerite wax, cooled undisturbed in the fridge)
This one has a little “lake” like some of the non-chilled ones. The “lake” is more of an oil gel, while the rest of a creamier salve-like consistency. Very similar skin feel to 1:5 & 1:6.
1:8 (11.11% ozokerite wax, cooled undisturbed in the fridge)
Mostly uniform appearance though the center appears a bit darker. Very similar to non-chilled version with a thin hard-shell top & a layer of gooey oil gel underneath. Lovely ointment-y skin feel.
OK, that was a lot more helpful! Beeswax also does that hard shell top/gooey under-bit thing, and chilling in the fridge gives a much better idea of how the wax functions. For one last stage of this experiment, I re-melted everything once again, combined them, and stirred while the mixture was cooling. This mixture ends up being an 8:36 ratio (aka 1:4.5) or 18.18% ozokerite wax.
The consistency of this mixture is utterly divine; smooth and creamy, with a beautiful semi-firm consistency. It glides across the skin wonderfully, absorbing at average speed with a creamy finish that reminds me of beeswax.
- Ozokerite wax is a strong thickener and a bit of a pain in the arse to melt
- It gives a beautifully rich, creamy thickness to products that is reminiscent of beeswax
- Ideally, you’ll want to stir the mixture while it cools, or at least cool it very quickly if it’s too thick to stir as it cools.
- Do your own experiments if you buy ozokerite wax as there are quite a few variations of it with different melting points.
- It is quite unique in the balance of hardness to melt speed—it can be really hard and yet still melt readily and have good skin feel.
I’m using the chilled-in-the-fridge versions for this chart.
|1:2||Yes||Yes||Slow||Ok slip fades into tacky/grabby||Ok|
|1:3||Yes||Yes||Average||Ok slip fades into tacky/grabby||Ok|
|1:4||Firm||Yes||Fast||Good slip fades into slight tack||Ok|
|1:5||Soft firm||Yes||Fast||Good slip fades into slight tack||Ok|
What do you think? Have I piqued your interest? Watch for recipes featuring ozokerite wax in the future!