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Wax has traditionally referred to a substance that is secreted by bees (beeswax) and used by them in constructing their honeycombs.

It is an imprecisely defined term generally understood to be a substance with properties similar to beeswax, namely

Waxes may be natural or artificial. In addition to beeswax, carnauba (a plant epicuticular wax) and paraffin (a petroleum wax) are commonly encountered waxes which occur naturally. Earwax is an oily substance found in the human ear. Some artificial materials that exhibit similar properties are also described as wax or waxy.

File:Beeswax foundation.jpg
Commercial honeycomb foundation, made by pressing beeswax between patterned metal rollers.

Chemically, a wax may be an ester of ethylene glycol (ethan-1,2-diol) and two fatty acids, as opposed to a fat which is an ester of glycerin (propan-1,2,3-triol) and three fatty acids. It may also be a combination of other fatty alcohols with fatty acids. It is a type of lipid.

Wax types

Animal and insect waxes

Vegetable waxes

Mineral waxes

Petroleum waxes

Synthetic waxes

External links

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