What Is It, and Why Use It?
When you’re opening a typical bottle of alcohol, such a bottle of wine or whiskey, you’ll probably be opening it one of two ways: either by extracting a cork or unscrewing a cap. If you’re dealing with a cork, you’ll also probably notice that there is a covering around the top of the bottle that needs to be removed first. It’s usually made of plastic or tin.
Even though you probably don’t think twice about it, that thin layer of plastic or tin is absolutely crucial to the life of that bottle of alcohol. It serves the important purpose of keeping moisture, bacteria and other contaminants away from the cork.
If exposed to too much air and moisture, corks can deteriorate over time and expose the contents of the bottle to contamination. This is especially true of natural corks, which are actually made of tree bark tissue. Modern synthetic corks are made of plastic compounds which reduce the risk of deterioration and contamination, but still need that covering seal.
Bottle Sealing Wax as a Protective Barrier
In some cases, instead of a plastic or tin sheath, bottles are dipped in wax to create a seal around the opening. It’s a relatively rare sight in today’s alcohol marketplace, but it used to be a standard practice a long time ago.
Before the invention of plastics and modern industrial processes, the only solution to keeping a bottle of alcohol fresh was to cork it and seal it with wax.
In most cases, the wax was trimmed after the bottle was dipped, creating a neat seal around the very top of the bottle. Some brands went with the “drip” look and marketed bottles with wax covering most of the bottle’s neck. This is essentially a branding tool that created instantly recognizable bottles.
In the end, the crucial aspect of bottle sealing wax is that it forms an airtight seal around the top of the bottle, protecting the cork.
The Benefits of Bottle Sealing Wax
Historically, specialized bottle sealing wax provided many benefits, such as:
- Creating a moisture barrier
- Keeping contaminants out
- Providing a durable seal
- Allowing for easy removal
- Personalizing the bottle’s exterior
Nowadays, with the invention of plastic and tin wrapping, bottle sealing wax is no longer a necessity for product safety. However, certain alcohol brands use bottle sealing wax for marketing purposes in creating a distinct look for their products.
Other Uses for Bottle Sealing Wax
Bottle sealing wax is primarily used for alcohol bottles, it can be used for any number of bottle-sealing applications, including perfume, cosmetics, and other food and drink such as honey, sauces and syrups.
In any application, the idea behind bottle sealing wax is the same: it is used to preserve and protect the contents of a corked bottle – and conveys a certain look to boot.
How to Use Bottle Sealing Wax?
Bottle sealing wax is often used by artisanal alcohol producers to convey a connection with the past, or the “old ways” of doing things. If you’re looking to seal your own bottles of wine, it’s also a good choice as it’s a relatively easy and inexpensive option.
Here’s a general guide for using bottle sealing wax.
- Prepare the wax by heating it. Use a heat-safe container (such as a crock pot or even a regular stovetop pot) and make sure you have some way of keeping track of the temperature inside the pot. Use a thermometer if you can.
- Aim for a dipping temperature somewhere between 140°-160°F (60-70°C). Keep measuring the temperature to ensure it stays within this range as you dip the bottles.
- Holding the bottle upside down, dip the neck into the sealing wax for a second. Then remove the bottle, letting the excess wax drip off the end. Turn the bottle right side up only once the excess wax is gone.
One pound of bottle sealing wax will yield about 25-30 dipped bottles. The size of the bottles you are using will determine exactly how far your wax will go.
Depending on the length of the bottle necks, you will need a container that is deep enough to allow enough coverage of the melted wax. This might result in you needing more wax to get the job done properly.