Is Wax Compostable & How Should You Dispose of It?

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Wax is a product found in most people's homes in one form or another. It has a variety of uses, but not everyone knows what to do with old wax when it's no longer needed.

So is wax compostable? Well - some types of wax are, and some are not. It all depends on the type of wax you're dealing with.

Today we examine the three most commonly found waxes in the home: cheese wax, candle wax, and wax paper.

In each case, you'll learn whether the wax is biodegradable and compostable - and if not, how to dispose of it in an environmentally friendly way.

Is Cheese Wax Compostable?

cheese coated in petroleum based paraffin wax

You might not think that something as trivial as cheese wax would have a large environmental impact. However, when it's added to landfills, it can take centuries to break down.

Cheese wax can be made from various materials, including paraffin wax, beeswax, and carnauba wax.

The majority of cheese waxes are made from paraffin, which is a by-product of petroleum refining.

As a result, you cannot compost this type of cheese wax in your home compost pile, and it should be kept out of landfills wherever possible.

However, other cheeses may be coated in organic wax, If your cheese label specifically states that the wax is made from organic material then it is OK to put this in your compost bin.

How does cheese wax biodegrade?

Cheese's waxy coating provides a cover that stops unwanted mold from growing.

However, paraffin and microcrystalline wax does not biodegrade, because it is very difficult for natural organisms and bacteria to break it down.

The good news is that these days you can also get eco-friendly cheese brands using organic wax such as beeswax, which is 100% biodegradable and compostable.

How long does it take for cheese wax to biodegrade?

While it is technically biodegradable, synthetic cheese wax breakdown is a slow process and there is insufficient data available to be able to state precisely how long it takes to biodegrade.

In landfill conditions, it is estimated that it can take hundreds of years for cheese wax to fully decompose.

However, beeswax and soy-based cheese waxes can degrade in as little as six months.

How can I recognize biodegradable cheese wax?

There are a few ways to tell if a cheese wax is biodegradable.

  • Check the ingredients list. If it includes any kind of petroleum product, it is not biodegradable. If it is made from beeswax then it probably is biodegradable.
  • Look for certification from an organization like the Biodegradable Products Institute [BPI].
  • Contact the manufacturer to ask about their production process and whether the wax is biodegradable.

Keep in mind that even if a cheese wax is biodegradable, it may not be safe for all environments. For example, if it is made from plant-based materials, it may attract pests like rodents or insects. So keep it well away from your house.

Is cheese wax toxic?

Cheese wax is a food-grade wax typically used to coat hard and semihard cheeses. The FDA has classified cheese wax as generally recognized as safe (GRAS).

You are not supposed to eat cheese wax. It's designed to protect the cheese, not to be edible. However, if you accidentally ingest small amounts, it is unlikely to do you any harm.

Personally though, I don't like the idea of eating anything that is made from petroleum! So it isn't something I would do or recommend.

Can cheese wax be recycled?

Many people assume that all waxes are recyclable, but this is not the case. Cheese wax, for example, is made from a blend of materials that cannot be separated and reused.

While cheese wax is not recyclable, there are some steps that can be taken to reduce its impact on the environment. For example, using recycled packaging materials and choosing products with minimal packaging can help

How can I reuse cheese wax?

So if you can't compost cheese wax or recycle it, then what else can you do?

Well, in fact, there are several ways in which it can be reused. Here are some ideas:

  • Melt it down and use it to seal bottles or jars
  • Use it as a fire starter
  • Coat your own cheese
  • Make your own candles

All these are much more eco-friendly choices than throwing your cheese wax in the trash bin!

Is Candle Wax Compostable?


One of the most common questions about candle wax is whether or not it is compostable. The answer, unfortunately, is that it depends.

While some types of candle wax, such as soy wax, are indeed compostable, others, like petroleum-based paraffin wax, are not.

Really, the only way to determine whether or not your candle wax is compostable is to check the label. If the label says that the wax is made from 100% natural ingredients, then it is likely compostable.

However, if the label does not list the ingredients or the wax is made from synthetic materials, it is probably petroleum oil wax that is not compostable.

Is candle wax reusable?

Yes, candle wax is reusable. In fact, many people who enjoy candles also enjoy repurposing the wax once the candle has burned down.

There are a number of ways to reuse candle wax, including melting it down and using it to make new candles, using it as a waterproofing agent, or even using it to make crayons.

Of course, you'll need to take care when melting down wax to reuse it, as it can be dangerous if not done properly. But with a little care and attention, you can enjoy your candles and then give them a second life by reusing the wax.

Can you throw melted candle wax in the trash?

It is a common misconception that candle wax can be disposed of in the trash once it has been melted. However, this is not the case.

While small amounts of wax may not cause problems, disposing of large amounts of wax can clog up your drain and cause messes in your garbage can.

In addition, the heat from melting wax can transfer to other items in your trash and start a fire. As a result, it is best to avoid disposing of melted candle wax in the trash.

If you need to throw it away, allow the wax to cool and solidify before placing it in the garbage. However, the best option is to reuse the wax.

What can I do with leftover candle wax?

When a candle burns down, there is often a fair amount of wax left behind. Rather than throwing it away, there are a number of ways to make use of this leftover wax.

  • Melt it down and use it to make new candles. This can be done by pouring the wax into molds or by creating dipped candles.
  • The wax can also be melted and used as a protectant for metal surfaces or as a lubricant for stuck zippers.
  • If you have children, they may enjoy using the wax to make crayons. Simply gather up some old candy molds or muffin tins and let them get creative. This could be a great activity for Earth Day.
  • Use the melted wax as a sealant for jars or envelopes.
  • If the wax is scented, it can also be used to make potpourri or added to homemade soap or lotion.
  • Leftover wax can be used to polish furniture or metal objects. Simply rub the wax on with a cloth and then buff it to a shine.

Is Wax Paper Compostable?

vegetable oil wax paper

Many people assume that wax paper is not compostable because it is coated in a layer of wax.

However, the type of wax used on wax paper is typically soybean wax, which is derived from plants, or paraffin wax, which is petroleum-based.

As a result, wax paper is technically compostable.

However, it will take longer to break down than other types of paper because of the wax coating.

In addition, the compostability of wax paper will depend on the type of composting system being used. Some systems may be unable to break down the wax coating, while others may have no trouble breaking it down.

For best results, check with your local composting facility to see if they accept wax paper before composting it.

What is wax paper made from?

Wax paper is a type of paper that is coated with a thin layer of wax. The wax helps to create a barrier between the paper and whatever it is wrapped around, preventing sticking and moisture damage.

Wax paper is often used in cooking, as it can be used to line baking pans or wrap food for storage. It can also be used for crafts, as it can be used to transfer patterns onto fabric or protect surfaces from paint or glue.

Vegetable oil wax is a type of wax made from a mixture of vegetable oils and other ingredients. It is often used as a food-safe alternative to paraffin wax, as it is non-toxic and biodegradable. However, it is not as effective at creating a moisture barrier as paraffin wax, so it is not typically used for wrapping food.

Paraffin wax paper is commonly used for cooking, while beeswax or polymer-based waxes are often used for crafts.

Is wax paper biodegradable?

Whereas paper itself is biodegradable since is made from trees, traditionally wax paper has been coated with a synthetic resin called polyethylene to stop it from melting. According to Ecocycle, this makes it non-biodegradable.

However, you can compost wax paper coated with beeswax, soybean wax, vegetable paraffin wax, or other natural waxes.

If the wax paper is contaminated with oil, fat, or grease, it should not be placed in the compost bin. Oil and water don't mix, and water is vital to the composting process. So wax papers covered in oil will not break down.

If you're unsure whether your wax paper is biodegradable, check the package for information on the coating.

How do I dispose of wax paper?

If you're trying to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, you're probably unhappy with the thought of your disposed wax paper sitting in a landfill.

There are a few different ways to dispose of wax paper. You can either recycle it, compost it, or throw it away in the trash.

Clearly, the trash is always the last resort. We would rather reuse a product where possible, or throw it on the compost heap if it can't be reused.

To make wax paper compostable you need to buy the right kind in the first place.

To make an informed purchase, always look for wax paper coated in organic wax such as vegetable oil wax, soybean wax, or beeswax. That gives you the option to compost wax paper instead of throwing it away.

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Arabella Ruiz is a senior researcher at The Roundup. She lives in San Antonio, Texas and has been interested in the environment from an early age. Arabella loves to campaign for environmental causes and fundraise for charities that aim to preserve wildlife habitat, protect endangered species or help people with climate change problems.
Arabella Ruiz
Arabella Ruiz is a senior researcher at The Roundup. She lives in San Antonio, Texas and has been interested in the environment from an early age. Arabella loves to campaign for environmental causes and fundraise for charities that aim to preserve wildlife habitat, protect endangered species or help people with climate change problems.

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