Paraffin wax, classified as a chemical preservative, is widely used in fruits, vegetables and candy to make them shiny and pretty as well as to retard moisture loss and spoilage. Paraffin wax is made from vegetable oils, palm oil derivatives, and synthetic resins as well as other materials. And, yes, it is edible. Some paraffin, however, is not intended to be ingested--like that sold for candle making--so check the label carefully.
Paraffin wax is often added to melted chocolate to give it a nice, glossy finish when dry. It also helps it remain solid at room temperature. The wax is melted separately from the chocolate and then mixed together. Be aware that paraffin is flammable when overheated, so warm it gently in a double-boiler or microwave only to the point where it is melted.
Fruits and sometimes vegetables are sprayed with paraffin wax to add shine to the surface making them more appealing, as well as help extend their shelf life by retaining moisture. Paraffin is still commonly used to seal home-canned fruits and vegetables and jams and jelly jars.
Paraffin wax is also used to coat cured sausage links to give them a nice sheen. The "candies" such as wax lips or mustaches, as well as wax tubes filled with flavored liquid, are made of paraffin wax.
Buying Paraffin Wax
You can find paraffin wax, also sometimes called baker's wax or canning wax, in your grocery store where canning jars and supplies are sold.
Gulf Wax is a popular brand of paraffin used for canning and chocolate-making.
Some people, notably those who are allergic to aspirin, may be sensitive to many waxes, depending on their ingredients.