Can you eat wax paper?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat wax paper?” and discuss what happens if we eat it?

Can you eat wax paper?

Yes, you can eat wax paper, when accidently eaten in small amounts. 

However, it is not safe to eat, since the ingestion of cellulose may lead to bezoars in the digestive tract. A bezoar is an indigestible conglomeration trapped in the gastrointestinal tract. This indigestible mass can be formed by a variety of materials that were intentionally or accidentally ingested. Representative substances forming bezoars include plant materials such as fibers, skins and seeds of vegetables and fruits. Some of these foods contain high amounts of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin, which are nondigestible food materials (1). 

For the most part, wax paper is not meant to be consumed. Once ingested, the body will simply not digest it, and it will be expelled along with the rest of the waste.

In the event that you accidentally munch on a piece of wax paper, however, as mentioned above, it can lead to complications (1)

It is highly recommended that you use wax paper to exhibit your meats or baked items while storing them. Even if you eat it unintentionally, there are no great hazardous qualities to worry about. However, some concerns exist and are pointed below.

While parchment or freezer paper may not have the same sticky capabilities as wax paper, it will nevertheless assist your products to cling to a slanted display surface if you’re concerned about keeping them in wax paper.

Paper and paperboards encompasses 31% of the global packaging market segment and are most widely used in food packaging for containment and protection of the food products, convenience during storage or consumption and communication of the relevant information to consumers including its marketing aspects (4).

Is it Safe to Use Wax Paper?

Two kinds of wax are used to cover wax paper. The first of them is paraffin, a colorless wax produced as a byproduct of the petroleum industry. Beeswax is a common source of organic wax. As long as it’s not melted or burnt, wax paper is completely safe to handle. It may burn if food is wrapped in it for too long, but the smoke it produces is safe to inhale.

According to the USDA, wax paper should not be used for lining cookie sheets for baking cookies as wax paper cannot take the heat of the oven and will smoke. Both wax paper and parchment paper can be used for lining cake pans for baking cakes. Because the cake batter completely covers the wax paper, the wax paper will not smoke. It can be used in microwave cooking. 

However, according to studies, mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons and mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons, which are present in wax paper, may have potential health hazards, which specifically includes carcinogenic effects. Contamination of food with mineral oil may occur by migration of mineral oil containing products from packaging materials, or during the food production process (2).

Accidentally ingesting Wax Paper may result in my death.

Accidentally eating wax paper does not necessitate calling for an ambulance. Wax paper has a softer edge than conventional paper, so swallowing a tiny amount won’t do any damage to your esophagus.

However, studies showed that retail confectionery products wrapped in waxed paper (containing 12–44% w/w) gave rise to levels of 12–1300 mg/kg mineral hydrocarbons in the individually wrapped sweets. In simulated home‐use experiments with waxed bags sold in the United States for domestic use, migration into sandwiches and cake amounted to 40 mg/kg (1% transfer of wax). Use of these waxed bags in the microwave oven (as recommended) gave rise to contamination of foods from 210 to 1650 mg/kg (up to 60% transfer of wax) (3).

What Happens to Wax Paper When It’s Burned?

In the end, burning wax paper produces smoke, which might be unappealing to breathe and make you cough. You may also wish to open a window to prevent your building’s fire alarm from going off.

Because the wax paper itself is non-toxic, the smoke it emits is also non-toxic. As a result, inhaling it will have no negative effects on your health.

As a result, wax paper is not recommended for use in an oven or as a packaging material for foods still hot from the oven. Wait up to 10 minutes before covering your meal in wax paper if you can. When it comes to these kinds of items, we know that appearance is everything, and you want to minimize the danger of a melted wax and food lump.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Wax Paper

We now know that wax paper is safe to use, so let’s have a look at some of the reasons why. Dry goods like Danish pastries adhere better to the display surface when they are wrapped in wax paper, which is ideal for food displays. 

It may also be used to wrap food since it helps keep cakes moist and decreases the possibility of crumbs. Fudge may also be wrapped in wax paper to keep it from becoming stuck together in the freezer.

Wax paper, on the other hand, should not be used in the oven since it melts under high pressures. As previously mentioned, the wax may melt when it comes into touch with heated foods, increasing the danger of ingesting it.

In addition, as mentioned above, mineral oil present in the wax paper may migrate to the food and lead to contamination with potent carcinogenic compounds, such as  saturated hydrocarbons. 

Migration studies had been conducted by several researchers regarding the migration of mineral hydrocarbon wax from waxed paper onto food surface. Migration of the wax increased at higher temperatures. Microwavable popcorn, burger box, rye bread mix, coffee, noodles, chocolate cake and curry chicken with jasmine rice contained in paper bags or cardboard boxes were found to contain polyfluorinated surfactants, which is of serious concern. Bisphenol A and its emerging structural analogue Bisphenol S is used as color developer on thermal receipt paper, commonly found attached to food packets and food cartons in mega retail food stores (4).

Are Parchment or Wax Paper Better for Printing on?

The chemicals that cover parchment paper and wax are different. There are two types of parchment paper: bleached and unbleached, both of which are coated with silicone. You may use parchment in the oven since it is heat-resistant and non-stick, thanks to its silicone components.

Vegetable parchment paper is extensively used as a layer between slices of pastry or meat because its grease resistance and wet strength properties makes it easily removable from the food contact surface. Labels and inserts for products with high oil or grease content are often made from parchment paper. High fat containing cheeses coated with food grade mold inhibitors can also be wrapped with vegetable parchment paper (4).

When preparing bread, wax paper comes in handy since it helps the dough stick to the surface you’ve flattened it out on.

When it comes to wax paper storage, how should it be done?

Wax paper should be stored in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Wax paper will not affect the chemical makeup of the fridge if placed there. Wax paper may also be frozen, however, it would be best to use freezer paper, since freezer paper is coated on one side with a layer of polyethylene nitrate.

It’s possible to get freezer burn if you keep meat covered in wax paper for a long time. Meat wrapped in freezer paper, on the other hand, may be stored for a year without harm.

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In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat wax paper?” and we discussed what happens if we eat it?


  1. Iwamuro, Masaya, et al. Review of the diagnosis and management of gastrointestinal bezoars. World j gastrointest endosc, 2015,7, 336.
  2. Weber, Sandra, et al. Analytical methods for the determination of mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH) and mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons (MOAH)—A short review. Analyt chem ins, 2018, 13, 1177390118777757.
  3. Castle, Laurence, Janet Nichol, and John Gilbert. Migration of mineral hydrocarbons into foods. 4. Waxed paper for packaging dry goods including bread, confectionery and for domestic use including microwave cooking. Food Add Contam, 1994, 11, 79-89.
  4. Deshwal, Gaurav Kr, Narender Raju Panjagari, and Tanweer Alam. An overview of paper and paper based food packaging materials: health safety and environmental concerns. J food sci technol, 2019, 56, 4391-4403.