Wax and Ways to Melt It

Wax and Ways to Melt It

As we discussed in the Safety section, we will be using paraffin wax, the kind you buy at the grocery store that has been used in canning for years. It is important to use common sense and ensure that you are working in a well ventilated area at all times.

There are many ways to melt your wax. I will tell you about a couple and you can pick what works best for you. Remember to choose one that has a way to accurately control the temperature. You don’t need a lot of tools, just something that will melt a small amount of wax.

Encaustic iron

My favourite by far is the encaustic iron on the right. I take the iron apart, slide it into the handle ... and I have a mini griddle. It was made for melting wax so is temperature controlled. It is quick to heat up and it only melts a small amount at a time. Wax does tend to drip over the edges so I try to keep it level and always set it on a ceramic tile on my work surface. 

I keep a block of wax handy and just melt a little bit as I go. 

My preferred tool for applying the wax is a sponge and the flat surface of the encaustic iron with just a thin layer of wax is ideal. More on applying wax later. 

Electric Griddle

My second favourite is an electric griddle. It’s larger surface makes it ideal for times when I have a stamp or tool that doesn’t fit on the encaustic iron. I also use it to completely coat the final piece with wax before the final step which is to iron all the wax off. 

Wax pot

Although I don’t use mine much, a wax pot is another option for melting larger amounts of wax. You can find them sold as pots for melting hot glue. They aren't very deep so I put a small tin can inside to hold the wax and give the brushes something to lean against. 

These take longer for the wax to melt. Because you can use a larger brush the wax posts are great for applying larger amounts of wax preserving smooth areas of colour. It is best to keep enough wax in the pot to cover the ferrule (the metal part) of your brush. This metal piece then heats up and will keep the wax warm giving you a bit longer to apply it before re-dipping. 

A small electric kitchen frying pan with an accurate temperature control can also work either like a griddle if you melt small amounts of wax at a time or like a wax pot, just larger.