Making cold wax medium

Feb 12, 2019

Since I started using the cold wax medium with oils I have always bought it off the shelf, ready made. I was aware you could make your own but the idea of heating up solvents wasn't really on my bucket list.

However spending 2018 teaching the use of cold wax medium I thought it was about time to experiment and really get to know the medium a little more. Luckily the Cold wax book by Rebecca Crowell and Jerry McLaughlin has a number of different recipes to choose from.

So those of you who have been to one of my workshops will be familiar with my reference to cooking and baking when I'm describing the process of painting with cold wax. It's pretty much the same with making it and the following photos add to that as it looks like I was just baking a cake... but weirdly in the back yard!

So with this first experiment I melted beeswax with damar resin. This was done on a hot plate rather than a naked flame and was outside to ensure there was plenty of ventilation. Added to that some strange looks from the neighbours!


Beeswax and resin nicely melting.


Once the beeswax and resin had melted I then started to pour in the solvent. At this point the wax started to firm up quite quickly. As you can see it is starting to solidify around the pan edges.


I left it to cool and occasionally stirred.


Once it was cold enough I started to spoon it into some jam jars. With hindsight I should have done this whilst the medium was fairly liquid as it was a messy task getting this stuff into the jars.  

The recipe I used was in the cold wax book and is

  • 11 parts filtered beeswax
  • 1 part damar crystals
  • 11 parts odourless mineral spirits (OMS)

With the OMS you can increase to 16 parts or more depending on thickness. In this experiment I used the minimum to see what that would turn out like. For my next batch I will increase the OMS to 12 parts and continue to do that until I find the thickness I prefer.

The end result is a cold wax medium that is a little stiffer than I am normally used to but that's all to do with experimenting with the recipe. There were a few unsure moments around measuring the ingredients and temperatures, chopping up the beeswax was a job in itself! All in all it was a fairly simple task and quite a pleasing one to have my own stash of cold wax medium.


Fancy having a go but don't want to be buying new equipment or even heating up solvents? Then look out for my blog on making cold wax without using heat.



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