In the early 20th century, paraffin wax was used in many crime laboratories to test for gunshot residue. Warm paraffin wax was used to form a cast of a suspect's hands, which was then peeled off and sprayed with reagent. If the cast turned blue, gunshot residue was present [source: Wallace].
Benefits of Paraffin Wax
You may already be familiar with paraffin wax treatments at spas and nail salons -- it's a luxurious addition to a manicure or pedicure. But you may be surprised at what else paraffin wax is used to treat.
Paraffin wax is a common option in heat therapy treatments for people with arthritis or other rheumatic diseases -- the heat helps increase blood flow and relax the muscles, which can help relieve caused by arthritis, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia [sources: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, WebMD]. Paraffin wax can even soften hardened skin caused by scleroderma, a disease in which collagen accumulates on the body -- it increases the skin's elasticity, allowing for increased movement and mobility, especially on the skin covering the hands [source: Sandqvist et al.].
But the benefits of paraffin wax don't stop there. Because paraffin wax treatments are a form of heat therapy, they're often used for muscle, tendon and ligament ailments. As with conditions like arthritis, they increase blood flow, improve joint stiffness and reduce pain. They're also used to treat bursitis, tendonitis, sprains and pulled muscles [source: Merck].
Now that you know about some of the benefits of paraffin wax, read on to learn how treatments are administered.