Each culture has its own preference for the type of wax used in batik making. The wax could simply be a single wax type (for example beeswax), but the recipe can also depend on the fabric used, the design and the wax application method desired. The types of wax that can be found in a batik wax mixture include-
- Resin from the Damar tree
- Microwax (sticky wax)
- Colophony or gum rosin (not resin) from Indonesian Pine
- Animal fat or vegetable fat
- Recycled wax
Animal fats or vegetable fats are used for liquidity. It melts at 45-49C and is added to lower the melting point of beeswax, used especially during the dry / hot season to make harder wax.
Paraffin is used for friability (crackle) and melts at 51.7C or 125F. It is easy for paraffin to penetrate fabric, easy to release but it is susceptible to extended exposure to alkaline solution (such as soda ash in fibre reactive dye solutions). Add more paraffin if you want more crackle.
Beeswax is for malleability and melts at 61.1C or 142-149F.
Micro wax or sticky wax melts at 79.4C or 175F. It gives flexibility to paraffin. A combined prepared mix of 50:50 paraffin and sticky wax melts at 61.2C or 150F.
Colophony or gum rosin is for giving a very defined outline to the wax (very necessary for crisp print in batik chop). It has a very high melting point. Between 70-80C or 158-176F. Easy to penetrate fabric, but also very easy to crack.
Damar Resin is for adhesiveness and acts as a binder. It melts at around 120C or 248F. Adding it to beeswax will raise the melting temperature to 62C or 145F thus not allowing it to harden too quickly during the chopping process. It will also harden it.
Recycled wax improves paraffin resilience against alkaline solution which is often used in naphtol and fiber reactive dyes.
The type of wax with the highest melting temperature is usually melted first before adding the other types.
A recent discovery is soy wax, which is water-soluble. It melts at 43.3-60C or 110-140F and is safer to use but does not crackle unless frozen. One disadvantage is that if you throw it down the drain, especially if you have mixed with detergent in order to wash it out, it will clog your drains. A second disadvantage is that it is highly susceptible to soda ash, which is required to fix dyes.