paraffin

paraffin, white, more-or-less translucent, odorless, tasteless, waxy solid. It melts between 47°C and 65°C and is insoluble in water but soluble in ether, benzene, and certain esters. Paraffin is unaffected by most common chemical reagents but burns readily in air. Obtained from petroleum during refining, it is used in candles, for coating paper, and for various other purposes. Chemically, paraffin is a mixture of high-molecular-weight alkanes, i.e., saturated hydrocarbons with the general formula C n H2 n +2, where n is an integer between 22 and 27.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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