Last Sunday at the farmer’s market, a woman asked me if I knew what crayons were made from. I didn’t. So when I got home, I did a little research. Most crayons are made from paraffin wax and pigment. Well, I know what pigment is. And I think I know what wax is. Or do I? So I looked up paraffin wax. Turns out it’s made from petroleum! You probably already knew that. Silly me. I had no idea.
So I did a quick Google search and found several brands of alternative crayons. Here are a few examples:
After looking up crayons, I started wondering about other things made from wax. Like waxed paper. I’ve seen eco web sites promoting waxed paper as an alternative to plastic wrap. But if they’re both made from petroleum, is there a difference? Does paraffin wax biodegrade? Apparently, it does, according to a study by Fabien Marino of the Department of Chemical Engineering at McGill University, Montréal. Click here if you’d like to read the PDF-format report.
I searched to see if there were any alternatives to paraffin waxed paper. I did find one Canadian brand called Chefs Select 100% Natural Soy Wax Paper. It doesn’t seem to be available in the United States, though. So I contacted Natural Value, the company that makes the “natural” unbleached waxed paper sold in most U.S. health food stores, and I received a very nice reply:
…our wax is indeed paraffin wax…we have considered using the new soy based wax, but both of our waxed paper producers have told us that they do not like the way the product turns out (smell, consistency), and that they cannot guarantee that the soy wax is gmo free…so we are still searching for something that will work for us…if we can do that, we will…I hope this helps
So I guess paraffin waxed paper is somewhat better than plastic because it will biodegrade. But since it’s made from petroleum, we should find alternatives.
Which brings me to the subject of coffee. Did you know that artificial firelogs like Duraflame are also made from paraffin wax? But there is an alternative to paraffin fireplace logs, and that is the Java Log, made from coffee grounds and 100% vegetable wax. And I’ll bet it smells good when it’s burning. Normally, I like to compost my coffee grounds (as well as those of my co-workers) but maybe this winter I’ll try them out in the fireplace in the form of a Java Log or two.
So, if you’re wondering why I didn’t mention the obvious product made from paraffin, candles, it’s because natural beeswax candles are ubiquitous these days. A Google search will bring up a huge list of choices.