Is wax paper toxic? Yes, but… Let’s take a closer look at this essential kitchen supply.
When it comes to wrapping fresh goods, wax paper is one of the most commonly used ingredients. But confusion often surrounds the ingredients of the wax paper itself and whether or not they are toxic.
It is inevitable that when separating our pizza, burgers, or cakes from wax paper, that some of it will remain stuck to the food and be accidentally ingested by us.
However, we won’t leave it until the end of the article to tell you that wax paper is non-toxic and will not kill you if you accidentally ingest it.
Food-grade wax paper is non-toxic, as most manufacturers have foreseen the problem of accidental ingestion and have specifically designed wax paper to cause as little incident as possible once ingested.
However, it might be useful to give you a more in-depth breakdown of wax paper, what it is made out of, what it does and under what circumstances it might become hazardous if any.
The Wax Paper Facts
Is Wax Paper Toxic?
Wax paper is coated with two types of wax. The first is paraffin, which is a colorless wax that is a byproduct of making petroleum. The second is organic wax, usually harvested from beeswax.
Regardless of whether it is melted, burned or run under cold water, wax paper will remain non-toxic. There are times when it might burn if hot food is wrapped up in it for too long, and the resultant smoke might not be pleasant to inhale, but it is still non-toxic.
Is Wax Paper Edible?
Wax paper is generally not designed for consumption. Once consumed, the body will simply not digest it, shunting it out at the other end with all the other waste matter.
If you eat a small portion of wax paper by mistake, it might not taste nice, but you won’t suffer any illness or adverse digestive effects.
If a larger amount of wax paper is eaten, you can also not expect to suffer from any serious consequences. However, you might want to book yourself in with a doctor, just to rule out the possibility of any internal damage.
Will I Die If I Accidentally Eat Wax Paper?
If you accidentally consume wax paper, there’s no need to dial for an ambulance. Wax paper isn’t as sharp as regular paper, and if you swallow a small quantity, the chances of it cutting your esophagus are slim to none.
The composition of wax paper is chemically neutral and specially adapted for cooking. If wax paper was toxic, then some of those toxic properties would transfer to the food that it is used to wrap.
What Happens If You Burn Wax Paper?
Burning wax paper is like burning any other paper – it will result in smoke, which might not be pleasant to ingest and cause you to cough. You might also want to crack a window open to avoid the fire alarm in your building being triggered.
Because the wax paper itself is non-toxic, then so is the smoke that it produces. This means that when you inhale it, you won’t be poisoning your body with any harmful toxins.
However, wax paper is not designed to be placed in an oven or used to wrap goods that are still piping hot, as this can cause the wax paper to melt. If possible, wait for the food to cool for up to 10 minutes before wrapping it in your wax paper. We understand that presentation is key with these things and you want to reduce the risk of a melted wax and food lump as much as possible.
Wax Paper – The Pros And Cons Of Using It
Now that we’ve established that wax paper is non-toxic, let’s look at some of the reasons that it is used in the first place.
Wax paper is good for display purposes as it helps dry foods like Danish pastries stick to the display surface better. It is also used to wrap foods, as it helps retain the moisture of cakes and reduces the risk of crumbs.
Also, wrapping food items like fudge in wax paper will prevent certain items from sticking together, especially in the freezer.
However, wax paper should not be put in the oven for the simple reason that wax tends to melt under high pressures. Wax can also melt when it comes into contact with hot foods, which increases the risk of ingestion, as discussed above.
Which Is Better: Parchment Or Wax Paper?
The difference between wax and parchment paper are the substances that coat them. Parchment paper is covered in silicone and comes in both bleached and unbleached varieties.
The silicone elements of parchment mean that it is heat-resistant and non-stick, which means you’ll be able to put it in the oven.
Wax paper is useful for making bread, as it helps the dough to adhere to whatever surface you’ve rolled it out on.
My personal rule of thumb:
- I use parchment paper for food or prep process that involves a lot of heat (e.g. baking pastries).
- I use parchment paper for a mess-free prep process (e.g. rolling out dough).
How Is Wax Paper Best Stored?
Ideally, it is best to keep wax paper in a room temperature cupboard. You can also put wax paper in the fridge without the chemical composition being altered.
Wax paper can also be frozen, although it might be better to use freezer paper, as freezer paper is coated with plastic on one side.
For example, you could store meat wrapped in wax paper for a few months, after which you might experience freezer burn. However, you can store meat wrapped in freezer paper for up to a year with no damaging effects.
Our Final Say
Wax paper can be a very useful item for food storage and we would thoroughly recommend that you use it for displaying your meats or baked goods.
But don’t be worried about digesting it accidentally, because it has zero toxic properties whatsoever.
If you are worried about storing your items in wax paper, then you can just as easily use parchment or freezer paper, although it will not have the same tacky properties of the former which will help your goods stick on a slanted display surface.
So, is wax paper toxic? I bet you can now confidently answer that question now. For more frequently asked questions, visit our index of food-related questions and answers. Here are a few suggestions for you: