Does Your Chocolate Contain Wax?

Does your chocolate contain wax

If you love chocolate you have probably enjoyed all different varieties of it, open to finding just the right flavor, consistency and texture as well as the richness you prefer.  Even if you choose fine, expensive chocolate, you have, no doubt – at one time or another – settled for a ‘lesser quality’ brand just to get your chocolate fix, or simply because it was all that was available.  What is the difference between high quality and low quality chocolate?  And does your chocolate have wax in it?

The truth is, most chocolate that you find in the grocery store is not pure chocolate in the natural sense.  In order to qualify chocolate as chocolate, it must contain the cacao butter (cocoa butter), the oil of the chocolate plant.  For this reason, much of what we buy labeled ‘chocolate’ has only the cocoa powder at best – and would more correctly be named ‘chocolate flavored.’  Many low end, inexpensive chocolate bars contain other oils as ‘fillers’ such as palm oil or canola oil and often times paraffin wax to make the chocolate sheen and increase the shelf life.  Many times there is just a bit of cacao butter, wax and palm oil – making up the ‘oil’ content of the chocolate.

Yes, paraffin wax is a common chocolate and candy additive to inexpensive chocolates because it does not require the chocolate to be properly tempered.  Tempering is a tricky ‘trade-secret’ which produces shine and shelf-stability without the use of additives due to the properties of cacao butter.  More expensive chocolate, and what contributes to both its cost and flavor is the simple ingredient list of pure cacao butter, cacao powder and a sweetener.  Often times lecithin is added to assist in setting up the chocolate, but very fine chocolate made by brilliant chocolatiers, need no such additives. Lecithin is also an allergen to many people, usually derived from soy.

Some may argue that when reading the list of ingredients on say, a Hershey or Nestle bar, there is no mention of paraffin wax, though when calling them to ask for their list of ingredients, they would give no such answer, calling it a ‘trade secret.’ Instead the conversation with Hershey’s went something like this:

I called this morning and gave the representative my case number and she read back my request: What are the ingredients in the Krackel bar. The ingredients list on the Miniatures bag lists them all together and I want to know just what’s in that bar.

She asked me why I want to know. I stammered that I wanted to know what I’m eating. She asked if it was an allergy issue. I replied that I wanted to know what was in that bar. If I ate only that bar, what would I be eating? (The package does say “something for everyone” so Hershey’s understands that sometimes people just pick through and eat only one variety.)

She said she did not have that information. It doesn’t exist in her records. If she wanted she could escalate me to a supervisor, but they had only the same info that she does.  Surely someone must know? Ultimately, the company decided that the recipe for the bars could not be shared.

Paraffin wax is an approved additive by the FDA even though it is a petroleum product ‘obtained from petroleum by dewaxing light lubricating oil stocks.‘ How does this sentence sound to you ‘Food-grade paraffin wax derived from petroleum.’ ?? Something is sounds seriously off, no?

Candy makers will tell you that adding paraffin wax is a common occurrence for both chocolate and candy making. Taken from a candy-making website:

Yes, it is edible. Paraffin wax is often added to chocolates. The addition of paraffin to the chocolate or candy gives it a nice, glossy finish and helps it remain solid at room temperature. 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.

Why is this wax not included on ingredient lists?  Well, unfortunately wax can fall into the category of ‘other flavors’ and may also slip off the label due to not actually being ‘food.’  If you want to ensure your chocolate is wax-free, choose more expensive chocolates with pure sources, single origins and those found in the ‘natural health’ section.  You can even find pure chocolate today which needs no sweetener – the chocolate is so finely sourced and processed.

If you want to ensure the highest quality chocolate, you may want to look for ‘raw’ chocolate.  Usually raw chocolate makers use alternative sweeteners, thus rendering the chocolate more amazing for your body and mind.  Raw chocolate contains all the beneficial properties of the Theobroma de Cacao plant – literally translated as ‘food of the gods.’  I’ve never heard of any raw chocolatiers using wax in their products, in fact, I am certain it would be abhorred by the raw-food community.

Does your chocolate contain wax? There is only one way to be certain – choose fine chocolate.  Once you start consuming high quality chocolate, you will find that you develop a taste for the ingredients present, as fine quality chocolate touches over 1000 taste buds (verses 100-300 in most foods).  When this happens, I guarantee you will be able to taste whether wax is present or not.  Here’s to fine quality chocolate.  Enjoy.

Written by: Stasia Bliss

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18 Responses to "Does Your Chocolate Contain Wax?"

  1. Gareth   June 27, 2017 at 8:41 am

    Interesting article, i’d like to see how deep the rabbit hole goes since the sources cited aren’t exactly legit and at the moment it all seems speculatory.

    I’m gonna do some digging around too. Not that I care much about Paraffin in food, since its in many, MANY things. It’s more to do with labelling, clearly some people have a reaction to paraffin and those people should be warned, like everyone in-fact.

    So if the above claims are true, i’d like to find some more concrete evidence and citations.

    Reply
  2. Margaret   November 16, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    I actually have a slight allergy to paraffin wax, so the fact that it’s not required to be listed really bugs me. Yes, there is paraffin wax in cheaper chocolate. Hershey’s. Snickers. Milkways. Mars brand chocolates usually have less then Hershey’s bars. My parents actually discovered this after I reacted to the candies when I was little, and none of the listed ingredients were the allergen. Some homemade chocolate recipes actually call for paraffin to keep the chocolate together. Maybe I could get a more direct answer from a Hershey’s representative, as is “an allergy issue”.

    Reply
  3. dahszil dahszil   September 26, 2014 at 1:47 am

    I could see using bee’s wax so as to make chocolate bars melt in your shirt pocket. But it makes me ill and angry to know that the fda approves petroleum derived war to be used in food. I find the more expensive chocolate to be creamier and melts in your mouth faster and imho is much more satisfying than a Hershey bar. My sister was living in Switzerland(or Suisse) years ago. She said the chocolate was like cream in your mouth and was so good. but with all this global competition it would not surprise me that even Suisse chocolate has more paraffin or wax at least for international distribution. A good chocolate is not overly sweet. most of the time the additive that makes a chocolate bar super sweet is artificial sweetener. And sometimes you can find really good chocolate in the clearance bin at the super market. most of us americans like the artificially sweeter hershey like chocolate and that it stays hard as we carry it close to our body heat. really chocolate is representative to quality going down in many products. manufacture cost is less(thus more profit) to put in fillers and wax and less chocolate as it is to pump more air into ice cream. im an older guy and i remember back in the 1970’s when ice cream warmed it did not form into bubles and liquid. it would just melt into soft thick liquid without all the bubbly foam. I would like to try to make my own chocolate, ice cream etc. and for what products we buy in general be it computers, refrigerators to simple stuff like lets say a writing pen are made to not last long=planned obsolescence. I read an article were most computers were deliberately made with like lets say a defective part that may not be noticeable at first but its like a domino effect which effects the rest of the computer hardware. sorry for digressing, but poorly made chocolate is just one example of making crappy products so companies can make more profit.

    dahszil
    male
    usa

    Reply
    • dahszil dahszil   September 26, 2014 at 1:50 am

      correction: first sentence should have been: “I could see using bee’s wax so as to PREVENT chocolate bars NOT melt in your shirt pocket.

      Reply
    • Stasia Bliss   September 26, 2014 at 8:01 am

      I totally agree Dahszil. My sentiments exactly. I have been making my own chocolate for some time now and it how I came upon the information about wax in chocolate. I have also started making my own ice cream out of coconut milk…it is so easy I can’t believe anyone would ever buy it…all you need is an inexpensive ice cream maker, a can of coconut milk – and let’s say, some cocoa powder and honey to make it chocolate. mix ingredients, chill, pour into chilled ice cream maker, process 15 minutes, done. I make some on a regular basis and it is inexpensive, delicious and I KNOW exactly what goes into it. Making chocolate is a little more time consuming and challenging, as it takes some technique to create the tempered effect (to make it break)…but doable. If everyone really understood how making our own foods is superior, more would do it. Thank you for your comments. Blessings.

      Reply
    • Martin   September 26, 2014 at 8:59 am

      No commercial chocolate has paraffin “wax” in it. No one here has yet documented any such use. Paraffin is only allowed in food use in the following instances:

      1. In the froth-flotation cleaning of vegetables
      2. As a component of insecticide formulations for use on processed foods
      3. As a component of coatings on fruits and vegetables
      4. As a coating on shell eggs
      5. As a float on fermentation fluids in the manufacture of vinegar and wine and on brine used in curing pickles, to prevent or retard access of air, evaporation, and contamination with wild organisms during fermentation.
      6. It is used or intended for use as a protective coating or component of protective coatings for fresh grapefruit, lemons, limes, muskmelons, oranges, sweetpotatoes, and tangerines.

      http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?CFRPart=172

      Now can we stop with this urban legend about chocolate containing wax?

      Reply
  4. Martin   September 20, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    As one of the naysayers, “just like chewing on chocolate flavored wax” doesn’t translate into containing paraffin. There can be plenty of other ingredients that modify taste and texture and I’ve had plenty of raw and gourmet chocolates that have awful taste and textures as well. These “wax in chocolate” urban legends are hard to kill and it doesn’t help when lame “journalists” perpetuate these myths.

    Reply
  5. Kendra Francesco   September 19, 2014 at 11:24 am

    I remember being shocked the first time I saw “paraffin” on the Hershey labels. This was only about 15-20 years ago. I looked at all of the labels, and kept seeing it. Finally, I quit eating their candy; I didn’t want to eat the same kind of wax my mother used to seal her jam!

    When I discovered that the word had disappeared (reading the labels a couple years ago), I figured they’d taken it out. Instead, I should have figured that – big food business being what it is – that they found a way around having to list it. Not food but still in there? Wouldn’t surprise me at all.

    Yes, I stopped eating their candy again.

    Reply
  6. Trish B.   July 16, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Hey naysayers, all you have to do is eat chocolate chips (many brands, including Ghiradelli) and you can tell the difference in the taste and texture from a decade ago. The worst is the little “chocolate” bits that are in cereals such as Special K. It’s just like chewing on chocolate flavored wax. I’ve actually stopped eating a lot of chocolate products because of this texture and thanks to this article I know now how to find good chocolate again. Thank you very much for the information.

    Reply
  7. Amanda Newell   June 10, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Hahaha. some people are ridculously dumb. Of course they put bad things in our food. Do the research yourself Martin, its not hard to find the scientific facts to back it up. If you actually have half a brain that is I suppose.. Don’t worry Stasia, I know the difference between water (something our body needs) and petroleum (something it clearly doesn’t – and which can also be harmful..). The narrow-mindedness of people is crazy, but some will never change their opinion unfortunately. Even when they are on their death bed, they don’t believe its possible they sent themselves to an early grave through naivety and ignorant pig-headedness. lol.

    All the food industry really does is throw a bunch of harmful/potentially harmful ingredients together, mix it up, and sell it with those ingredients in it, under like, millions? of different names. You want proof? Look up mono-sodium glutamate for one, and tell me why they could possibly need so many different names for one ingredient, if it’s not to hide it better. Then look at the ingredients lists on all of your foods in your pantry and freezer (especially packaged items – but not limited to), and see what you find. Then, you may look up obesity in MSG induced mice, mice which they use in experiments because of the biological similarities to us humans. Do you see a healthy mouse? No. You do not. Imagine putting MSG into your body over the course of your whole life. Now you have an idea hopefully. Please keep in mind, that is but ONE, of the millions? of additives there are out there, and in your food that you eat.

    Reply
  8. Jim Whitted   December 24, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Thank you, Stasia. “What I have done all may do” Badges do not make you smarter.

    Reply
  9. Signe Beck   August 14, 2013 at 11:39 am

    As a chocoholic and home chocolatier who has studied chocolate, tempering, and candymaking, this is definitely fact. Exactly why I only eat high quality chocolates. Stasia, what is your web address so I can buy some of your yummy chocolates? thanks!

    Reply
    • Stasia Bliss   August 14, 2013 at 3:51 pm

      I used to be ‘Never the Same Chocolate’ – – we still have a Facebook page. I stopped Chocolatiering to become a journalist. My business partner still makes chocolate and I make it for personal consumption still. She is going under the title ‘Flower of Life’ chocolate and it is our same, basic, raw amazing recipe. I was horrified to learn, while in the process of becoming a chocolatier – about the wax in chocolate truth. This made me all the more grateful to be making my own. Thanks for your words.

      Reply
      • Martin   August 14, 2013 at 3:57 pm

        “the wax in chocolate truth.”

        Yet you sill haven’t supplied any support for this “truth” as per my previous post. As a ” journalist” I’d expect a bit more.

        Reply
  10. Martin   August 12, 2013 at 10:43 am

    “Well, unfortunately wax can fall into the category of ‘other flavors’ and may also slip off the label due to not actually being ‘food.'”
    I’m skeptical of the above claim. None of your sources have any authoritative citations to support this, nor do you. Please dig a little more.

    Reply
  11. Khisanthus Rochomm   August 12, 2013 at 7:46 am

    Not to mention this is done by someone with no background whatsoever in food or nutrition. Or materials. Or much in the way of logic. Oh Noooess! Not a petroleum based chemical! Won’t someone think of the children! Chemicals are bad! Water is not a chemical….oh wait.

    Reply
    • Stasia Bliss   August 12, 2013 at 8:01 am

      I am the writer and have been a raw chocolatier for over 5 years and worked in the chocolate business for this long, which is why I decided to write about it, actually. I have been in the food/nutrition and health industry for over 12 years and am a certified nutritionist. Thank you for your kind words.

      Reply
  12. Kevin buck   August 12, 2013 at 6:28 am

    Obviously this research was done on a 15 min coffee break

    Reply

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