Paraffin wax is a colorless, soft wax that can provide therapeutic heat therapy for the hands and feet. It also has softening and moisturizing effects on the skin.

As with other waxes, paraffin wax melts when it is heated. It has a low melting point, so it is safe to touch in its liquid form. This means that people can submerge their hands or feet in the wax for potential therapeutic benefits.

This article will look at paraffin wax, its benefits, risks, and how to use it.

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Paraffin wax is a by-product of heating or distilling petroleum, also known as crude oil. It is a solid waxy substance that companies often use to make candles.

Paraffin wax also has other uses, such as a stiffening agent in ointments or an anti-inflammatory cream for the skin.

People often use it to relieve the symptoms of arthritis, and some spas use it as a therapeutic treatment.

Paraffin wax is also a mineral oil and an ingredient in many skin creams, lotions, and gels.

Find out more about the risks and benefits of mineral oils in skin care products.

Paraffin wax has some potential therapeutic uses. Some salons and spas use it as a skin-softening treatment or pain relief for sore joints and muscles.

The two main benefits of paraffin wax are its moisturizing or skin-softening properties and its use in heat therapy.


Spas and salons often use paraffin wax in skin-softening treatments to moisturize the hands, feet, and cuticles. Paraffin is an occlusive moisturizer, which means it forms a physical barrier on the skin to prevent water loss. This can make a person’s skin feel supple and soft.

Occlusive agents such as paraffin wax can also help relieve symptoms of dry skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis. However, occlusive moisturizers may cause the skin to feel greasy. The thick barrier on the skin could also lead to clogged pores and acne.

Heat therapy

A person can use paraffin wax as a form of heat therapy for their hands or feet.

To use it for heat therapy, a person can melt the wax, test the temperature, and dip their hands or feet in it. This may help relieve stiff muscles and joints by improving circulation and increasing blood flow to the area.

People with different forms of arthritis may find that this form of heat therapy helps alleviate pain, stiffness, and swelling, as well as helping to improve mobility and flexibility.

Salons and spas may offer paraffin wax treatments, but people can also use the treatment at home.

The treatments at home and in a spa are likely very similar. When using wax at home, a person should use caution when heating the wax and follow all instructions on the kit.

To perform a paraffin wax treatment at home, a person should follow these steps:

  1. Wash hands with soap and water.
  2. Apply a lotion or moisturizer to the hands.
  3. Test the temperature of the wax by dipping a fingertip in gently.
  4. Spread the fingers and dip the hand into the wax. Remove when coated.
  5. Repeat this, dipping and drying the hand about 6–8 times.
  6. Cover the hand with a towel or plastic bag immediately. Keep it covered for 15–20 minutes.
  7. Remove the towel.
  8. Carefully peel the cooled wax from the hand.
  9. Repeat steps with the other hand.

Although paraffin wax may benefit the skin and joints, there are safety risks involved with using it.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), paraffin wax is highly flammable, and inhaling its fumes can cause significant irritation. For this reason, an inexperienced person should avoid using it at home.

To avoid fire hazards and toxic fumes, a person should never heat the wax over an open flame. One way to melt the wax gently is to put it in a bowl over a pot of hot water.

A person should also be wary of the temperature of the wax before they put their hands or feet in it, as hot wax can cause burns. The temperature should be comfortable to touch and should not be more than 125°F (51.7°C).

People with sensitive skin should also be careful while using paraffin wax, as it could cause a reaction. A person should always do a patch test before using any new product on the skin.

To do a patch test, a person should put a small amount of paraffin wax onto a small area of skin and leave it for 24 hours. If any reaction occurs, a person should refrain from using the product.

The safest way to use paraffin wax is to go to a professional spa or salon. If a person uses it at home, they should follow the above safety guidelines.

Find out more about patch testing for skin care products.

Experts generally consider paraffin wax to be safe and effective when used in a spa or at home in the form of moisturizers or heat therapy.

However, a person should avoid using paraffin wax if they have:

  • any open cuts, wounds, or burns
  • issues with sensation in their hands or feet
  • a sensitivity to any chemicals

Someone with a chemical sensitivity may experience a rash, swelling, or breakouts if they use paraffin wax as it is a petroleum product.

People with poor circulation or a history of numbness in their hands should not use paraffin wax, as they may not feel the temperature accurately. This could lead to heat damage on the skin.

The cost of treatment can vary greatly by location and salon.

Usually, the treatment will last around 30 minutes and could cost around $15 or more.

At-home paraffin treatment kits may be more cost-effective because a person can reuse some of the materials. Prices can also vary, but a person could purchase a DIY paraffin kit online for around $60.

People use paraffin wax for various purposes, including as a skin moisturizer and heat treatment for arthritis.

Paraffin wax can help alleviate dry skin and can help to relieve swollen joints and painful muscles.

A person can order a paraffin wax kit to try at home, or find a participating salon or spa for treatment. However, a person should follow safety guidelines and avoid treatment if they have open sores and cuts or any chemical sensitivities.