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What is Slack Wax

What is Slack Wax


Most of us are familiar with the term paraffin wax as it is the main raw material for candle that we used daily. Some of us may wonder where paraffin wax originated from. The majority of paraffin wax used for candle manufacturing is from de-oiling and refining of Slack Wax.


Slack Wax is mixture of paraffin wax and oil originated from petroleum crude oilParaffin is a term that can be used synonymously with “alkane”, indicating hydrocarbons with the general formula CnH2n+2. Paraffin wax refers to a mixture of alkanes within the Carbon no in 20 ≤ n ≤ 40 ranges. Slack Wax oil content can range from 10% to 30%. Slack Wax can be classified as Heavy Slack Wax and Light Slack Wax. Heavy slack wax has melting point of 62-66°C and Light Slack Wax has melting point of 47-53°C.


Slack Wax is produced during the production of Group I lube base oil. During production of Group I lube base oil, the feedstock firstly has to go through solvent extraction process to remove aromatics and the resultant product is called raffinate. The raffinate is then diluted with solvent like methyl-ethyl ketone (MEK) to lower its viscosity to improve low-temperature filterability. The diluted oil is then chilled to -10°C to -20°C. Wax crystals will form, precipitate and removed by filtration. The removed wax becomes Slack Wax.

Slack Wax from different refinery has different properties, and the important specifications are color, oil content and drop melting point.


The traditional usage of Slack Wax is in the production of fully refined paraffin wax which is the main raw material for candle manufacturing. Slack wax other major usage are for particle board and medium density fiber board, cable filing compound, paraffin wax, matches, candles, rust protective products and moisture vapor barriers.


In the early 2000s, Slack Wax was treated as a low value product as it was a by-product during lube base oil production. Demand for Slack Wax was low during that period and price was stable at the ranges of US$300-400/Mton FOB basis. With the continuous closure of Group I lube base oil plant since year 2006 due to increasing trends of using Group II and III lube base oil in the world, Slack Wax supplies become scarce and limited. For modern petroleum refineries which produce high quality low sulfur fuel, Slack Wax is an excellent feedstock or raw material. Some new Group III lube base oil plant also requires Slack Wax as feedstock.


With the continuous closure of Group I base oil plant which decrease supply, and new major applications for Slack Wax as feedstock for low sulfur fuel and Group III base oil plant, the price of Slack Wax has since increased significantly since early 2000s.


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