The paraffin, whatever the type, is obtained: 1) distilling the residue of oil, shale or bituminous peat and the result of the carbonization of the lignite at low temperature, or 2) by a synthetic process of pressure-media involving the use of CO and H2, with catalysts (modified Fischer-Tropsch synthesis). The paste (soft paraffin wax) precipitated during distillation of the oil is cooled, de-oiled and bleached to obtain a solid paraffin. On the other hand, liquid paraffin is obtained by distillation. All types of paraffins, except solid, are colorless, clear, oily, non-fluorescent in daylight, whole or virtually odorless and tasteless. Only when they are heated do they emit a faint odor. Paraffins are insoluble in water, poorly soluble in ethanol and soluble in ether and hydrocarbons.
Paraffins are used in medicine and cosmetics, in ointments and creams, and also as a mild laxative. They are also used in the production of candles, preparations for floor treatments, wood and metal polishes, car care materials, abrasive paste and thread grease, modeling paste, cosmetic pencils, modeling materials, suspensions used in the infrared spectroscopy (Nujol), media used in microscopy, heaters used in chemical devices (oil for transformers), chemical lubricants used in high precision mechanisms (oils for weapons), linoleum, waxed papers, waxing fruits and cheeses, and wetting agent. Another totally different use of paraffin is as a method of dust control (example: containing sawdust in equestrian events).