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topic 10079

Removal of Wax masking from silica materials

We need an easy and quick method of removing wax. At present a detergent is used for removal of bee wax. We tried to use boiling sodium hydroxide but it is not a safe method. Can you please suggest a suitable method for removal of bee wax from silica material?

Nagaprasanna Bettadhapura
- Auckland, New Zealand


Trichloroethylene heated to 200 degrees F will do the job nicely but the fumes need to be exhausted. Use a vapor degreaser if possible.

Russell Richter
- Danbury, Connecticut, USA

Lift Off No. 5


Hi, Nagaprasanna. The effortless way would be vapor degreasing if you have a vapor degreaser unit.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


You have three options to remove beeswax:

1) Emulsify the wax in water with or without soap.

2) Dissolve the wax in a solvent.

3) Burn off the wax in an oven.

It sounds like you'd prefer to emulsify the wax in hot water. Beeswax can form an emulsifier system with Borax, and the beeswax/borax solution may partition into hot water without any scrubbing action. Other detergents/Surfactants may be required to augment this action. Several baths may be required to affect 100% removal. It may help to use a solvent as well.

An off-the-shelf approach would be to try strong industrial de-greasing preparations.

Another approach that has been used is to immerse the parts in very hot light mineral oil before cleaning. The mineral oil will diffuse into the beeswax, and the mineral oil/beeswax mixture will have a lower melt point and clean off surfaces more easily than the straight beeswax will.

Something to remember is that beeswax and beeswax/oil mixtures float on top of water. Simply immersing your parts in boiling water and siphoning off the beeswax that floats to the surface will eventually remove all but a thin film of wax.

If your parts are porous, you may require a hot solvent wash to remove the wax completely, since the structure of the pores may interfere with surfactants. I have seen this before with ceramics. The advantage of hot solvent is that you can design a closed-loop system and recycle both the solvent and the wax.

Good luck, and let me know if any of this was helpful.

Bob Zonis
- Bohemia, New York

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