Chinese insect wax

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A hard, white wax excreted by the louse-like scale insect Ceroplastes ceriferus (formerly Coccus ceriferus), common in China and India, or a related scale insect, Ericerus pe-la, of China and Japan. The insects deposit their wax onto the leaves and twigs of Chinese ash trees, Fraxinus chinensis. The wax is scraped off, cleaned with hot water, and cast into molds. Chinese insect wax is composed primarily of ceryl cerotate (C25H51COOC26H53) and other esters ranging in length from C48 to C60. It is similar to spermaceti and has been used as a substitute for beeswax. Chinese insect wax is also used for candles, wax paint, polishing leather, and sizing paper.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Ceroplastes ceriferus; Coccus ceriferus; cera de insectos Coccus ceriferus (Esp.); cera cinese (It); cera d'insetti (It); spermaceti vegetale (It); Chinese wax; pela white wax; vegetable insect wax; cochineal wax; Chinese ash tree (Fraxinus chinensis)

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Saponification number = 73-93.
  • Iodine number =1-2.
  • Acid number = 0.2-1.5
  • Total % of alcohols and hydrocarbons = 49-50
  • Melting Point = 80-84 C
  • Density = 0.950-0.970 g/ml
  • Refractive Index = 1.457


Properties of Natural Waxes

Resources and Citations

  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing) Comment: melting point range = 79 to 83C
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982 Comment: melting point range = 80 to 84C
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Robert Weast (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, v. 61, 1980 Comment: melting point=81.5-84.0C, density=0.950-0.970, ref. index=1.457, iodine value=1.4, acid value=0.2-1.5, saponification value=73-93

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