Is it me or my wax?

Hi all,

Does carving wax get more brittle with age? I have been carving up a
storm lately using up some old purple wax. I have been having
problems with it cracking and simply falling apart (mainly the ring
tubes). So, is it me or does wax “expire” at some point? I’ll be
more than happy to toss it out if this is the case.

Gena Wagner
Louisville, KY

Yes. I have green wax that has to be about if not more than 10 years
old and I have noticed it as well. For awhile I thought I was losing
my touch but then I realized it’s the wax. The color can fade too.


Toss it out and get new wax ! Try some different ones to see which
one you like the best for your personal techniques - goo

Hi Gena;

I’ve noticed that old carving wax becomes brittle.

David L. Huffman

Toss it out and get new wax ! Try some different ones to see which
one you like the best for your personal techniques

Would crayon wax work?

Toss it out and get new wax !

You could recycle it and make some wax sheet. Melting it, and
skimming seems to give it some life.

You can make your own wax sheet, using an ancient method. Basically
melt your wax and pour it onto water. Hot wax floats, but it’s still
a liquid, so wants to cover the surface of the water. You can control
how thick/thin you want the wax, by doing some volume calculations.

Regards Charles A.
P.S. Or you could just buy some sheet if recycling isn’t your thing :wink:

Does carving wax get more brittle with age? 

Gena, Yes! The wax loses its properties with time. Some lasts longer
than other but with time it does exactly what you are describing.

I’d toss it!

Good Luck. Dan.

Carving waxes, machinable waxes and many other kinds of wax used by
jewelers include a substantial proportion of paraffin wax in their
makeup. The formulations are many, are proprietary to each maker and
they rely on the quality of each component of the mix.

High quality paraffin wax is getting quite expensive, so there is a
temptation for jewelry wax compounders to use lower cost versions of
paraffin wax. Commonly, the price is very dependent on the oil
content. Here is a typical Chinese paraffin wax supplier’s product

As you can see, the oil content varies from under 0.5% up to 10%
and this affects (a) the compounding techniques and proportions
required, along with (b) the long term stability of the compounded
wax properties. Low oil content paraffin wax is the most stable, also
the most expensive.

The high oil content is volatile. Time and storage temperature will
take their toll on the properties, as the oil migrates through the
wax and dissipates to atmosphere. Ya get what ya pay for…

Mark Bingham
Fourth Axis

I’ve got a piece of red Kerr ring tube and sheet material that is 30
some years old. The ring tube is starting to get a little brittle.
Still workable however. The same cannot be said for the sheet goods.
They have lost all flexibly and are useless. These were stored out
of heat and light. I know that makes a difference. A friend in the
trade used to keep all his waxes in the fridge. He claimed it kept
the from drying out.

John (Jack) Sexton

I have some larger blue and green ring tube pieces kept in a cigar
box that I’ve worked with for 30-40 years without a problem. The only
problem I’ve had is when a tube was dropped causing hairline cracks
which took a while to “see” after ruining a few pieces that crumbled
somewhere in the carving process. That happened with both ferris
green and blue tubes when i was young and was working over a hard

My purple wax “bars” are of their nature, a very crumbly wax…or at
least the one or twol that I’ve bought these past ten years.

Never worked a purple tube, but if the formula is similar to the
bars, I would never attempt to work with it with knives or carving
tools… unless i was looking for a special effect. There are lots of
wax “recipes” out there…and sometimes I make and modify my waxes.
Softer waxes have more emollients and dry slower. Sheet waxes change
their characteristics after a few years from very soft and pliable
to a stiffer sheet that is easier to handle with the hands but can
exhibit cracking when worked. Good for working up an old leather
look though if you’re carving a baseball mitt. Carving waxes have
more plastics in them.

But in answer to your question, yes, wax does dry out with age. Some
more than others, and over time, the working properties change in
most of them if not all. And store your waxes well if not used soon.
I always keep mine in the boxes they came in (when they come in
boxes) and inside a cabinet or drawer.


Would crayon wax work? 

Not as a straight substitute, you’d have to mix other waxes with it
to give it some body.

I have a recipe somewhere on this computer for making your own wax,
some of the ingredients are parafin wax, and plastic shopping bags,
and some other ingredients that I can’t recall.

For the effort to make this wax, you’d save the time, and wouldn’t
have a stinky kitchen, if you just bought some new wax :wink:

Regards Charles from Oz
P.S. Basically you can make anything you need, but you don’t have to

More questions about wax:

I just ordered & received several different waxes in a moderately
large kit. Since I just learned that the wax ages, as you have all
indicated, do any of you think it would help to preserve it by
keeping it all in air tight bags? I will be using it regularly once I
get my casting going, but I would like to preserve it as best I can.
My kit came with several sizes, thicknesses, colors, etc. I am pretty
sure I have enough to last me several years, this kit is so
extensive. But it will all be for waste if it ages so easily.


Hi Teresa;

Couldn’t hurt to put it in plastic bags and squeeze all the air out.
Personally, I go through so much wax I don’t bother. My problem is
the injectiion waxes. If I forget often enough to turn off my wax
injector, keeping them hot over time evaporates some compounds and I
get wax that is brittle, full of bubbles, or dirty in color. You
should ask our resident wax expert, Margie Mersky about the fine
points of storing waxes.

David L. Huffman

More questions about wax: But it will all be for waste if it ages
so easily. 

Yeah I got a good idea, make stuff out of the wax before it ages,
you’ll be glad you did :wink: CIA

Greetings Casters: When I use red injection wax from Rio Grande and
it gets brittle, I melt in a bit of the soft sculptural wax. Take a
tablespoon-sized chunk of the sculptor’s wax and mix that with a cup
of the red injection wax. The new mixture doesn’t break as easily.
Also when you demold a wax pattern, try demolding in a warm room.
Wax is less brittle when warm.

Hope this helps.

Hi Teresa, David, and all - I’ve been following this wax thread.I’ve
never thrown any wax away. There are ways to remelt it and use it
again if it’s the right formula. Wax is amazing and very user
friendly, and it does have a molecular that can be damaged/altered.
Overheating is the worst thing to do to wax and causes irreversible
damage.Please store all wax in tightly sealed plastic bags with very
little air if you’re not using it often. I’ve combined so many
different types over the years, trial and error. Those of you who
use Deep Detail already know how incredible it is. If anyone wants to
toss any in the trash please consider shipping it my way. I have
former students who can use it once I work my magic on it!The
formulas are in my brain.Contact me offline if you have some to get
out of your shop.

Margie Mersky

More questions about wax: But it will all be for waste if it ages
so easily. 

It takes years for decent waxes to dry out…some decades. (If the
wax came in fairly fresh and not dry, especially boxed sheet wax…)
Most suppliers get rid of wax that has been on the shelf for too
many years.

I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Have fun!