Biocompatible use of Waxes as Pharmaceutical Excipients

Shridhar J Pandya, Pinal S Patel, Samip S. Shah, Rakesh Ranjan

Introduction: The term wax generally refers to a substance, which is a plastic solid at room temperature and a liquid of low viscosity above its melting point. A wax is chemically defined as an ester of a monohydric long-chain fatty alcohol and a long chain fatty acid. In the pharmaceutical literature, the term waxes, fat or lipid have often been used interchangeably and no consistent terminology has been established. Waxes have been used as formulation ingredients in the pharmaceutical industry for many years. Their application in semisolid preparations ointments, creams or lotions and suppositories are well known and numerous publications exist on this topic. Because of their lipophilic properties, waxes find numerous applications in formulation.

Classification of Waxes
Waxes are obtained from various sources and are generally classified in to animal insect, vegetable, mineral and synthetic waxes.

A. Natural waxes

  • Animal waxes: - E.g. - lanoline, spermaceti wax, and wool fat.

  • Insect waxes: - E.g. - bees wax.

  • Vegetable waxes: -E.g. - carnauba wax, Japan wax, castor wax, candelila wax.

B. Synthetic waxes

  • PEG (molecular weight > 700)

  • Hydrogenated oil E.g. - hydrogenated cotton seed oil

  • Partially Hydrogenated oils


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