Cold wax painting does not use the encaustic painting process

Encaustic is the name for both a wax painting medium and a painting process that uses heat to apply and fuse the medium. Encaustic painting uses heat at every stage of the painting process. The name encaustic literally means “to burn”.

Cold wax medium is used at room temperature, whereas traditional encaustic painting is applied in a molten state. Painting with cold wax does not use the encaustic painting process.

Unlike encaustic that you heat up and fuse, cold wax should not be heated as it contains solvents. In encaustic painting, the wax medium must be molten to work with and then each layer needs to be fused (reheated).  Cold wax is not molten.

Cold wax medium is not encaustic medium

Encaustic medium is made from wax and damar resin no solvents are added.

Cold wax medium is wax that has been combined with a solvent such as turpentine or alkyd resin. Cold wax medium is a paste that is combined with oil paint. Cold wax speeds up drying time of oil paint and increases the paint’s workability. Cold wax gives the oil paint a creamy texture that can be spread on a painting like butter.

“Cold wax medium…is a pasty substance made of beeswax, resins, oils and mineral spirits, that is mixed with oil paint and applied directly to a support, without any fusing or heat applied. (For health and safety reasons, heating cold wax is not advised.)” (Source: Rebecca Crowell)

Cold Wax Painting is not Encaustic Painting

Cold wax is a different medium and a different painting process, therefore, it should not be confused with encaustic painting.

Learn about cold wax medium

If you’re interested in learning more about cold wax painting, I recommend picking up a copy of Cold Wax Medium: Techniques, Concepts & Conversations by Rebecca Crowell & Jerry McLaughlin.

What do you think?

A lot of artists who paint with encaustic are starting to try cold wax painting. I haven’t personally tried cold wax and I have no plans to. I love that encaustic medium uses natural products, I don’t want to work with solvent based mediums.

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