The last time you made some oily snacks and needed to store them in the fridge safely away from moisture, what did you use?
The last time you harvested a few apple fruits from your apple tree and had it sliced up into little bits for dessert at a picnic, what did you store it in?
wax paper right?
Popularly used for food-related activities, wax paper is a transparent paper made water-proof from the addition of wax to the paper.
This makes it easy to wrap food items without releasing the moisture in them or allowing moisture into them.
It is closely related to paraffin paper or aluminum foil but more preferred to these two because of its relative safety to food.
The Word “compostable” is derived from the word compost. Compost refers to a mixture of decomposed materials that are useful for fertilizing the soil.
Compost is by far, the richest form of nutrient additive to the soil.
Compostable material is one that is capable of being broken down into natural elements to produce carbon dioxide, water, and other compounds useful for plant growth.
Composting is usually carried out by the elements of decomposition embedded in nature.
On the other hand, a biodegradable material is a material that is susceptible to decay. It does not necessarily have to be an additive to the soil for nutrient boosting.
It is biodegradable if the forces of decomposition can act on it to break it down into smaller harmless compounds.
There seems to exist some kind of difference between the words compostable and biodegradable.
It is such that not every biodegradable material is compostable, but every compostable material is biodegradable.
It is biodegradable if it has some form of plant, animal, or natural mineral constituent. But, it is compostable if every form of it is a plant, animal, or natural mineral.
Biodegradable material can be degraded to leave toxic elements in nature, while a compostable material breaks down and turns to humus in the plant soil.
The issue of wax paper being either compostable or biodegradable is one that will be carefully scrutinized in this article and a satisfactory result will be reached. For the purpose of this article, the words biodegradable and compostable will be treated as closely related and synonymous.
In this article, you will join me to decide if the wax paper is a compostable and biodegradable material with facts that satisfy every reasonable doubt.
Is Wax Paper Compostable?
The position of wax paper being compostable is based on the kind of material used to make the wax paper.
Originally, the paper is made from wood like all other papers, the wax coating is the important element that prevents the paper from getting soaked or taking in moisture.
There are three elements used in making the wax for coating wax paper. They are:
- Soybean wax
- Vegetable oil based paraffin wax
- Petroleum based paraffin wax
If the wax paper is made of soybean wax as its essential raw material, it is compostable. This is because soybean is a plant element that decays after days of being acted upon by saprophytic decomposition elements.
The wood used in making the paper can also decay, hence the soybean wax paper is perfectly compostable material.
If the wax paper is made of vegetable oil-based paraffin it is also decomposable and compostable. It would be a nutritious additive to the compost given its vegetable oil element.
But, if the wax paper is made of petroleum-based paraffin, then the chances of being compostable are really slim. The reasons are obvious. You already know that petroleum products cannot decompose.
Therefore, wax paper is compostable to the extent of the raw material it is made with.
Can I Compost Wax Paper?
Yes, you can, if the wax paper is made of raw materials like soybean, vegetable oil, and any other elements that are organic and decomposable.
Note that composting of wax paper is not a function of the paper, but a function of the wax used for coating the wax paper.
Is Wax Paper Biodegradable?
Yes, wax paper is biodegradable, every type of wax paper is biodegradable, regardless of the material involved in making the wax paper. The biodegradability of wax paper is not dependent on the wax coating but on the paper element.
After some time, the wax paper decays and breaks down into compost or a non-toxic element.
If the wax coating is a natural element like soybean or vegetable oil, the wax coating will biodegrade as well as the paper, but, in situations where it is made of petroleum, the wax paper stays the same in nature while the paper decays.
Does Wax Paper Decay
Just like we have established in the previous paragraphs. Yes, wax paper decays.
The wax can also decay if it is made with an organic element, but it does not decay if the element is an unnatural petroleum product.
How Long Does Wax Paper Take to Decay?
Here’s a surprising fact about wax paper. It decays just like your normal unrefined plant leaves.
Wax paper takes about one to two months to completely decay on its own. But if it is added to a compost heap with sufficient composting microorganisms, decay can take about three to four weeks.
You have to note that the decay of wax paper is dependent on the material used in making the wax. If it is not a natural element like vegetable oil or soybean, there’s no point stressing the wax paper in a compost site as it wouldn’t decay even after six months.
This is why it is necessary to take note of the labeling of your wax paper.
Are Wax Melts Biodegradable?
Wax melts are not related to wax papers, the relationship, however, is based on the wax material common to both of them.
While the wax paper is made from the addition of wax to paper and used for storing food, wax melts serve for providing home fragrance.
Wax melts are essentially fragranced wax lumps that are melted to release the fragrance in them. Wax melts look like candles, except that they do not have wicks and have to be melted to release their scents.
Wax melts are biodegradable if they are made of biodegradable materials like soybean and vegetable oil, otherwise, they are non-biodegradable and can only be recycled after every melt, to be refilled with fragrance, and melted again.
You could try out a wax melt in your home for the purpose of fragrancing the home. They are safe to use and do not have any risk of getting the house in flames.
Is Paper Towel Biodegradable?
Paper towels are biodegradable. A paper towel is a fluid absorbing material made from paper used in kitchens and meant to be disposed of after usage.
Paper towels are made from wood pulp, the same type used to make writing and printing paper.
Paper towels are also made from wood fibers gotten from recycling woods.
It is clear that the main raw material of paper towels is paper or wood pulp. These two are organic materials that are biodegradable.
Hence, paper towels are a biodegradable material.
Care should however be taken in adding paper towels to compost as some paper towels have bleach that makes the compost in which they are added, toxic to plants.
Is Toilet Paper Biodegradable?
Toilet paper is almost like a paper towel, except that toilet paper is made for use after using a restroom, hence, they are milder in texture than paper towels.
Toilet paper is also made from trees. But because of the tree consumption rate, alternative methods have been devised to reduce the tree cutting rate.
These methods include the use of bamboo, sugar cane sticks, and recycled paper.
Toilet paper is biodegradable and can be safely added to compost without fears of causing toxicity.
Is it Okay to Add any Paper Wax to My Compost?
It is not okay to add just any paper wax to compost. This is because compost is an important nutrient additive to the soil and the growth of your plants is greatly tied to the quality of compost the soil is treated with.
This is why great care should be taken on the kind of compost to add to the soil. If you must add paper wax to the compost, the paper wax must be made from organic raw materials like soybean or vegetable paraffin oil.
Adding a petroleum-based or bleached paper wax can cause death to the decomposing microorganisms in the humus content.
- Wax paper is the best form for holding food that would be stored, refrigerated and microwaved.
- Wax paper can be made out of vegetable oil, soybean or petroleum products.
- Wax paper made out of organic materials can biodegrade and be made into compost.
- Wax paper made out of organic materials takes about three weeks to fully biodegrade.
- Wax paper can be recycled into wood additives and other smaller products rather than letting them decay.
The condition of wax paper being biodegradable or compostable has been subjected to careful scrutiny in this article and we have established the fact that the biodegradability or compostability of wax paper is based on the raw materials used to make the wax paper.
It is always safe to read carefully the labels of wax papers to know the materials it is made from before adding them into your compost.
A good wax paper is characterized by its ability to hold out moisture from getting into the wrapped material.