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Paraffin wax is a soft colourless solid, derived from petroleum, coal or shale oil, that consists of a mixture of hydrocarbon molecules containing between twenty and forty carbon atoms. Common applications for paraffin wax include lubrication, electrical insulation, and to make candles or crayons. It is solid at room temperature and begins to melt between about 46 and 68 °C (115 and 154 °F).
Paraffin wax is an excellent electrical insulator, with a resistivity of between 10- and 10-ohm metre. This is better than nearly all other materials except some plastics (notably Teflon). In industrial applications, it is often useful to modify the crystal properties of the paraffin wax, typically by adding branching to the existing carbon backbone chain. The modification is usually done with additives, such as EVA copolymers, microcrystalline wax, or forms of polyethylene.