Beeswax (Triacontanyl palmitate),
Octadecyl octadecanoate (stearyl stearate),
Dodecyl hexadecanoate (lauryl palmitate),
Waxes are esters, combinations of long chain alcohols and
long chain fatty acids. (There are waxes made from more
complicated building blocks, but what we commonly call
waxes are esters.)
The wax that bees make is a complicated mixture of many
compounds, but about 70% of it is the wax made from
the fatty acid palmitic acid and the long chain
alcohol triacontanol (melissyl alcohol).
Waxes are used as a water resistant coating on cars and furniture.
Waxes are also used in lipsticks and eyebrow pencils,
in liquid soaps and shampoos to give a pearlescent effect
(the tiny flakes of the wax glycol distearate reflect the light).
Lanolin is a wax made by sheep sebaceous glands and
washed out of wool with detergents. It is used in many hair
and skin care products.
Waxes are the principal component in traditional varnishes such as
shellac, a wax made by the cochineal insect Tachardia lacca.
Waxes are made into candles, but most candles these days are made
from long chain hydrocarbons called paraffin, which are not
By Simon Quellen Field