Oil Content in Normal Alpha Olefin Waxes

Many consumers of wax products are interested in the “oil content” or “MEK Solubles” of wax, as reported using ASTM method D 721-97. For traditional petroleum-derived waxes, this value often reflects the amount of low molecular weight oils left in wax after it has been through the traditional refining process.

For normal alpha olefin waxes, however, the reported “oil content” is not related to the presence of low molecular weight components. Normal alpha olefin waxes are not refinery products. Chevron Phillips Chemical produces them by oligomerizing ethylene to long-chain alpha olefins. Our waxes therefore have extremely low levels of components that have carbon chains shorter than C20.

Our normal alpha olefin waxes do, however, contain some branched olefins that have lower melting points than the linear olefins that make up most of the wax. These branched components have the same molecular weight as the linear components, but at the temperature of the test method, they are more soluble in MEK than are linear olefins. These long-chained, branched components are the products reported as “oil” in ASTM method D 721-97.