How to Make and Use Batik Wax

woman dying batik with batik wax
 Jeorge Fockenberg/Getty Images

Batik is a beautiful method of dying that can produce large abstract designs or intricate pictures that tell a story. Fortunately, it's a technique that isn't too difficult for most people to do at home.

How to Make Homemade Batik Wax

Learn how to mix your batik wax so that you'll get the batik look you want.

There are two kinds of wax traditionally used: beeswax and paraffin wax. When selecting your wax, consider what kind of look you want for your batik. Paraffin wax is less flexible, so it is excellent for the crackle effect that is a signature of batik work. Beeswax and microcrystalline wax are very flexible, so they do not allow for any crackling in the design.

Most professional batik artists would agree that a mix of beeswax and paraffin is best to get a slight crackling in the design without losing the smooth image that beeswax provides.

  • More Paraffin: If you enjoy the crackling lines of batik, consider adding more paraffin than beeswax to your mix. Try 2 parts paraffin to 1 part beeswax. When using this mixture, make sure that the wax is penetrating all the way through the fabric.
  • Equal Parts: Combine equal parts of paraffin and beeswax to get good absorption into your fabric without losing the spontaneous lines of the crackling paraffin. This is great for stamping fabric with batik wax.
  • More Beeswax: If you are into making large definable shapes with your wax, mix 2 parts beeswax to 1 part paraffin.
  • Beeswax Only: Use beeswax by itself if you are intending to make very precise lines, letters, and shapes. Keep in mind that you're going to lose some of the charm of the batik without the crackling lines. This is most useful if you are intending to dye the fabric several times and add in crackle later.

Many people have success using microwavable soy wax, which is available in most craft stores in the candle making department. The soy wax heats at a lower temperature than the beeswax/paraffin mix and is much easier to wash out. It's great for both crackled and smooth designs without the fumes produced.