How To Use Letter Sealing Wax

11/6/2010 by

Making Wax Seals

WARNING: Molten sealing wax is flammable and will stick to the skin causing a severe burn. Use CAUTION when melting and pouring the wax and keep young children away.

Please do not send sealed letters through the mail. The U.S. Post Office uses elaborate automatic sorting machines that will eat your seal. If you wish to mail a sealed letter, place it inside a padded mailing envelope. This will insure the survival of your seal and the U.S. Post Offices machines.

It is a good idea to practice the following procedures a couple of times on scrap paper before sealing anything important.
  • Melting the wax

    There are several methods of melting sealing wax: matches, torch lighter, regular lighter, alcohol lamp, spoon-over-candle-flame, spoon-with-melting pot, etc. We prefer to melt sealing wax directly from the stick using either a torch lighter or a common match. Hold the stick in one hand (your more dexterous hand), and the torch lighter or match in your other hand. If using a torch lighter, aim the flame at the end of the stick, right over the area of your paper where you want the wax to drip. If using a match, hold the match under the end of the stick, and as the stick gets hot, the wax will drip down, through the flame, onto the paper.

  • Stirring and shaping the puddle (very important!)

    Once you have melted a tiny puddle of sealing wax, somewhere between the size of a dime or a quarter depending on the size of the seal you are going to impress upon the wax, you then begin to shape the puddle of wax into the shape of your seal (round, square, oval, rectangular), using the stick of wax as the stir tool. Stirring brings any air bubbles to the surface. Stirring also allows you to feel when the wax begins to stiffen a bit. After doing several seal impressions, you will develop an ability to sense when the wax is at the perfect temperature to take the sharpest, most detailed impression possible.

  • Creating a moisture barrier

    If using J. Herbin’s traditional formula sealing wax, a moisture barrier MUST be created on the face of the seal before impressing it into the wax, no matter what material the seal is made of. There are several easy methods of creating a moisture barrier on the face of a seal:

    • The simplest is simply to breathe on the seal just as you might breathe on your glasses if you were going to clean them. This is amazingly effective, and it's our own preferred method.
    • Lick the face of the seal. Also simple, and it works.
    • You can brush a bit of oil on the face of the seal. Use oil very sparingly. It’s easy to use too much, and this will cause a disappointing loss of detail in the impression.
    • The ice cube method is favored by glue-gun users. Place the seal face-down on an ice cube in between impressions. This causes condensation, especially if the seal is warm from the previous impression.

  • Impressing the seal, when and how

    The sealing waxes we sell are purpose-designed to take crisp, razor sharp and accurate impressions from the most intricately designed and finely detailed seals ever engraved. Some technique is required to achieve perfect impressions. This can be learned with a bit of practice. How can you tell if you’ve impressed too soon? The wax seal will be shiny. The sharpest impression will have occurred when the wax seal appears to have a matte surface as opposed to a shiny surface. Practice and experience will soon lead to instinct as to just how long to allow the melted wax to cool before impressing the seal into the wax. Once you’ve firmly placed the seal into the puddle of wax, hold it still for about 5 seconds, and then slowly peel the seal away from the wax.

  • Be careful

    This whole process is “playing with fire” so we feel the need to say a quick word of caution. We have, at various times, burned our fingers and accidentally set fire to stationery and envelopes and tablecloths. Take care. Watch out for body parts, especially fingers, hair, and noses. Don’t let children do this unless supervised by a responsible adult. The wax is still very hot for several seconds after you pull away the seal, so don’t touch the new seal impression right away, let it cool. Melt your wax in a well-ventilated area that’s free of extraneous paper or other easily flammable things.

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