Is Wax Biodegradable? Surprising Facts You Should Know

  • By: greenorb
  • Date: April 25, 2021
  • Time to read: 7 min.

It’s pretty amazing to see consumers getting more and more conscious these days. 

The vast majority do prefer using biodegradable, sustainable, and eco-friendly products in their homes. 

Now that wax is on-trend right now, the big question is, “is wax biodegradable?”

Waxes are available in many varieties. Notably, they come from varying sources, including plant, animal, petroleum, and mineral. 

Wax lovers use it for many things – from creating Christmas candles, polishing furniture, shining up cars to preserving apples. 

The good news is that manufacturers are now producing waxes that are safer than before. 

Below, we’ll determine whether wax biodegrades, how long it takes, different types, among other things.

Is Wax Really Biodegradable? 

Yes, but it depends on the source. Some waxes will biodegrade in the shortest time possible. 

Others will take thousands of years to break down, hence non-biodegradable. 

To get the answer correctly, we should ask ourselves, what is wax made of

The material in which wax is made determines whether wax will decompose or not. 

As we know, most wax available is either from plants, animals, and petroleum. 

The most common one is animal-based wax. Wax that comes from animals is biodegradable. 

It will take the shortest time to biodegrade. These waxes include:

  • Beeswax wax
  • Shellac wax
  • Lanolin wax
  • Spermaceti

Alongside that, we’ve plant or vegetable-based waxes

Wax makers produce them from fatty acids. Just like the former, all these waxes are biodegradable. 

The most common types include:

  • Palm wax
  • Soy waxes
  • Carnauba wax
  • Candelilla wax

Petroleum-based wax is next and probably the most ubiquitous these days. 

While most manufacturers consider them vegan, the waxes contribute to potential severe effects on the environment. 

The wax is non-biodegradable, and even if it decomposes, it will take a hundred thousand years. 

Good examples include:

  • Paraffin wax
  • Microcrystalline

How Long Does it Take for Wax to Biodegrade?

About 2 to 4 weeks. We already know that wax made from natural and organic ingredients is biodegradable. 

Simply, vegetable and animal-based waxes. They are the best and most sustainable choice to use at home. 

Organic wax can take anywhere between 2 and 4 weeks in the landfills to decompose fully. 

A good example is wax paper. Organic materials boast the decomposition rate.

If you add organic wax to your compost, garden, or landfill, it will break down at a faster rate. 

This addition makes a rich compost. 

Meanwhile, petroleum-based wax needs a lot of time to decompose. 

The fact remains – inorganic material can’t decompose or biodegrade quickly. It will take thousands of years on the planet to go off.  

Is Wax Environmentally Friendly?

Absolutely yes, eco-wise, waxing is somewhat good as it’s waterless

However, the issue of environmental responsibility is a concern. Natural and organic-based wax is not only sustainable but also eco-friendly.

For instance, soy wax which comes from soybean oil, is a better choice. 

It’s inexpensive and causes no harm to the planet. Better than that, it’s thought to be highly renewable. 

Even animal-based wax is good for the environment. Beeswax, which is derived from the honeycomb, is incredibly environmentally friendly. 

First off, it’s non-toxic while burning and will release negative ions that eliminate or combat air pollution.

If you’re an ethical consumer, we recommend you to search for 100 percent organic, non-toxic wax. Opt for them instead of paraffin wax.

Is Wax Bad For The Environment?

Not all waxes are better for the environmentNon-GMO wax is 100% earthly friendly and won’t harm ‘earth’. It’s recyclable and compostable.

On the flip side, paraffin wax is terrible for the environment. 

Remember that it originates from crude oil as a byproduct. For that reason, it’s unsustainable. 

When you burn them, they release carcinogenic chemicals like benzene and toluene into the air, causing numerous environmental calamities. Think of:

  • Climate change, 
  • Damage to natural habitats and 
  • Oil spills to the ocean.

Apart from interfering with aquatic life, wax made from unspecified blends isn’t the healthy option. 

All waxes manufactured with paraffin, GMOs, toxic dyes, synthetic fragrances, and parables are suspicious. 

Breathing their hazardous chemicals is bad for your health. 

They can result in awful things like cardiac problems, allergies, lung issues, autoimmune diseases, and more. 

Considering our health and environment, we’re obliged to make the right choices.

Choose vegetable mind wax if you can get it. It’s a natural, biodegradable, and sustainable one.  

The only concern regarding plant-based wax like soy wax is the soybean industry. 

Expects a bit of deforestation as well as the use of fertilizers and pesticides.  

Is Hard Wax Biodegradable?

Hard wax is 100% biodegradable. 

Its primary ingredients are rosin and beeswax. 

Oils and vitamins are other therapeutic ingredients wax makers add. 

Since its bee and plant-derived, hard wax is biodegradable. It will decompose within 6 weeks, leaving zero impacts on the environment.

Is Wax Compostable?

Yes , wax-coated with plant ingredients is compostable

The most periodically asked question is whether you can compost wax. Well, the answer will vary depending on the materials used to coat the wax. 

For the wax that uses plant ingredients as its coating, you can compost it and be assured of excellent results. 

Worth mentioning, this type is organic. The same happens to animal-based wax.   

How do you decide whether to add wax to your compost or not? You’ll need to check out the same raw materials that the manufacturer uses. 

Any compost material should be:

  • Biodegradable
  • Natural or organic

For starters, popular types such as soybean wax, beeswax, vegetable oil-based wax, and palm wax are compostable. 

The collections come from plants, which are 100% organic. Despite that, microbes may find it difficult to digest them.

Petroleum-based paraffin wax, on the other hand, is inorganic. Never include it in your compost or garden.  

Different Types of Wax and Their Time to Biodegrade?

Wax is essential in many homes. Waxes have unique features depending on the type. 

Persons use wax for various purposes. 

You should know the many types of waxes out there. Some are synthetic; some are natural, while others are a mixture of the two. 

Each material possesses unique particularities. That said, each type will take a specific time to biodegrade. 

For beginners, let’s curate different types of waxes:

Soy wax  

Soy wax is all-natural. It comes from hydrogenated soybean oil. 

While this type of wax is relatively cheap, it’s a great alternative to beeswax and paraffin wax. 

Most companies choose to use soy to make candles as it is all-natural and renewable. It also takes between 4 to 6 weeks to biodegrade.


Presumably, beeswax is the oldest and most expensive option. 

As the name suggests, the ingredient comes from honeycomb during the honey-making process. 

From the beehive, it’s then let to filtrate and melt a couple of times. This wax biodegrades within 2 to 4 weeks.

Paraffin wax 

This type is very common. It’s worth noting that this material is easy to find and most versatile. 

You can use it to create tapers, tealights, tapers, and pillars. However, the material is petroleum, thus non-biodegradable.

Coconut wax 

Here comes another attractive, purest organic wax that comes from coconuts. 

It’s an ideal choice as it burns nicely and features a great scent. Even better, it stocks a unique color. 

From harvesting to manufacturing, the process is sustainable. Just like other naturals; wax, this option takes 4 to 6 weeks to break down.

Other types of wax include:

  • Gel wax
  • Palm

Best Ways to Dispose Of Wax Sustainably?

One most thoughtful way to dispose of your wax is by adopting the three Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Throw it to a waste recycler. This is the eco-way to dispose of your already used wax. Organic wax is recyclable. 

That is, recycle. Add it to your compost or garden. If your wax is toxic-free (natural), you can add it to your compost. 

Simply put, reuse. Reuse it again and again. You only need to clean some types of wax and reuse it.

Reduce the amount of wax in your home, especially paraffin wax. You can jump ship to other recyclable alternatives. In simple words, reduce.

Does Wax Decompose?

Yes. Organic wax will take around two to four weeks to decompose fully

Should you decide to add it to your compost, garden, or worn bin, the wax will break down at a faster rate than before. 

Environmentalists say that wax decomposes just like leaves in the forest. 

However, the rate of decomposition may vary depending on the source. Petroleum-based wax will take a longer time than others.  

Ways to Use Wax Sustainably at Home

In essence, you can use wax responsibly while you keep the environment safe. 

If you like to make your own things, then wax could be up to that at some point. Use it to:

  • Make lip balms
  • Creating candles
  • Gripping surfboards
  • Polishing furniture
  • Shining up cars
  • Pulling the hair off legs
  • A great addition to the compost

As long as you choose organic material, the wax will suffice in all sorts of stuff. 

Make your choice smartly and sustainably. 

Wrap Up 

All in all, you can get a grasp on wax out there. 

But it’s equally important to check out the material that wax is made out of. 

Plant-based and animal-based wax is all-natural, biodegradable, and compostable, making it a sustainable choice.   

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