Isoparaffin vs. Paraffin

What's the Difference?

Isoparaffin and paraffin are both types of hydrocarbons commonly used in various industries. However, they differ in their molecular structure and properties. Isoparaffin is a type of branched hydrocarbon, meaning it has side chains branching off from the main carbon chain. This branching gives isoparaffin a higher degree of molecular complexity and results in a higher boiling point compared to paraffin. On the other hand, paraffin is a straight-chain hydrocarbon with no branching, making it simpler in structure and having a lower boiling point. Paraffin is commonly used in candles, while isoparaffin is often used as a solvent in industrial applications such as cleaning agents and paints.


Chemical StructureBranching structureStraight chain structure
Physical StateLiquidSolid
Boiling PointVaries depending on the specific isoparaffin compoundVaries depending on the specific paraffin compound
ViscosityLow viscosityHigh viscosity
ApplicationsUsed as solvents, lubricants, and in personal care productsUsed in candles, cosmetics, and as fuel
Environmental ImpactGenerally considered to have low environmental impactCan contribute to air pollution when burned

Further Detail


Isoparaffin and paraffin are two types of hydrocarbon compounds that are widely used in various industries. While they share some similarities, they also have distinct attributes that make them suitable for different applications. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of isoparaffin and paraffin, highlighting their similarities and differences.

Definition and Composition

Isoparaffin, also known as isoparaffinic hydrocarbon, is a type of synthetic hydrocarbon solvent. It is derived from petroleum and consists of branched alkanes. These branched alkanes have a unique molecular structure that provides isoparaffin with desirable properties such as low volatility and high flash point.

On the other hand, paraffin, also known as alkane, is a type of saturated hydrocarbon. It is derived from crude oil and consists of straight-chain alkanes. Paraffin is known for its excellent heat retention and insulation properties, making it widely used in candles, cosmetics, and other applications.

Physical Properties

Isoparaffin and paraffin have different physical properties due to their distinct molecular structures. Isoparaffin has a lower boiling point and vapor pressure compared to paraffin. This makes isoparaffin more volatile and evaporate faster. On the other hand, paraffin has a higher melting point and is solid at room temperature, while isoparaffin is a liquid.

Isoparaffin is also known for its low viscosity, which makes it an excellent choice for applications that require easy spreading or flow, such as inks, paints, and cleaning products. Paraffin, on the other hand, has a higher viscosity, making it suitable for applications that require a thicker consistency, such as in candle manufacturing or as a base for ointments and creams.

Chemical Stability

Both isoparaffin and paraffin exhibit excellent chemical stability. They are resistant to oxidation and do not react with most chemicals. This stability makes them suitable for use in various industries, including pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and electrical insulation.

However, isoparaffin has an advantage over paraffin when it comes to its compatibility with elastomers and plastics. Isoparaffin is less likely to cause swelling or degradation of these materials, making it a preferred choice for applications that involve contact with rubber or plastic components.

Environmental Impact

When it comes to environmental impact, both isoparaffin and paraffin have their pros and cons. Isoparaffin is considered to be more environmentally friendly compared to traditional solvents due to its low toxicity and low emissions. It has a low odor and does not contribute significantly to air pollution.

On the other hand, paraffin, especially in the form of paraffin wax used in candles, can release soot and potentially harmful chemicals when burned. However, advancements in candle manufacturing have led to the development of cleaner-burning paraffin candles that minimize these emissions.


Isoparaffin and paraffin find applications in various industries due to their unique attributes. Isoparaffin is commonly used as a solvent in industrial cleaning, degreasing, and metalworking fluids. It is also used in the formulation of paints, inks, and coatings due to its low viscosity and excellent spreading properties.

Paraffin, on the other hand, is widely used in the production of candles, where its high heat retention and slow burn rate are desirable. It is also used in cosmetics, such as lip balms and moisturizers, as it provides a protective barrier on the skin. Additionally, paraffin is used in electrical insulation, lubricants, and as a component in various chemical processes.


In conclusion, isoparaffin and paraffin are two hydrocarbon compounds that have distinct attributes and find applications in different industries. Isoparaffin is known for its low volatility, low viscosity, and compatibility with elastomers and plastics. Paraffin, on the other hand, is valued for its heat retention, insulation properties, and solid-state at room temperature. Understanding the unique characteristics of these compounds allows industries to choose the most suitable option for their specific needs.

Comparisons may contain inaccurate information about people, places, or facts. Please report any issues.