Dorland’s Wax Medium


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Dorland’s Wax Medium

Dorland’s Wax Medium is excellent for oil painting, impasto and cold wax techniques as well as mixed media. It is a translucent compound of waxes and resin to be mixed with oil paint, powdered pigments, powdered metals, coloured sands, or dyes, as well as other compatible fine art materials. The proportions of medium to pigment depend largely on the characteristics of the pigment and the desire of the artist.

Additionally, it can be used as a protective coating for paintings, wood, plastic, and metal objects as well as photos. Dorland’s Wax is unsurpassed as a matte finish protective coating and permanent sealing medium. It resists cracking and also dries more quickly than oil paints by themselves. To use, thin the wax medium to a flowing consistency with a solvent and/or poppy seed oil.


  • This product is not recommended to be used for hot wax painting because of the possibility of fire and the release of toxic fumes when the solvent is heated.
  • If using more than 1/3 cold wax medium to 2/3 oil paints, a rigid support such as a wood panel should be used. Because of the flexibility of the surface, paintings on canvas may crack.

Use this product to varnish a watercolour!

Read Also: Abstract Oil Painting with Dorland’s Wax Medium by Rebecca Crowell

*We do not recommend using Dorland’s for hot wax painting because of the possibility of fire and the release of toxic fumes when the solvent is heated.

Other uses for Dorland’s Wax Medium include use as a museum-quality, matte finish protective coating. It is unsurpassed for cleaning and preserving antiques, woodcarvings, bronze, plastics, and other items worth protecting. For use over paintings, photos, or picture frames, apply by rubbing wax over the surface. Let harden for up to several days, then buff with soft cloth.

Oil Painting and Cold Wax Techniques


First, the pure medium is thoroughly mixed and blended with each individual color (tube oil colors or pure pigments). Mix with a painting knife or spatula. This is known as tempering. After the virgin colors are tempered by the medium, they may then be intermixed and used in any fashion that the artist dictates.

The proportions of medium to pigment depend largely on the characteristics of the pigment and the desires of the artist. Mix desired proportions of wax medium with oil colors or dry pigments. (Some common ratios are 10% – 25% to 90% – 75% oil paint for oil painting; and 30% – 50% wax to 70% to 50% oil paint for more impasto techniques. As stated before, however, the proportions are flexible and depend on the effect the artist is trying to achieve).

Apply at room temperature using a brush or palette knife. The translucent wax allows light to penetrate into the paint body giving richness as well as vibrancy of tone. Cold wax paintings dry and cure faster than pure oil paintings, and may be polished when dry if desired.


Wax is unlimited in this technique. Thinned washes or thick translucent impastos of Dorland’s Wax Medium may be applied over drawn or painted artwork, or combined with a wide variety of media; dry or dispersed pigments, metallic powders, tempera powders, and paper, as well as wood, etc. A Masonite or wood panel with a gesso ground makes an excellent support. Use the wax for over painting, glazing, and finishing, as well as a resist, etc.


Use turpentine and/or poppy seed oil for thinning or glazing to desired consistency. Adding Damar Varnish or another good quality artist’s varnish will increase gloss and improve brush-ability. Other additives such as cobalt drying agents, can be experimented with in conjunction with Dorland’s, but may take away the characteristics of the wax.


For oils, cold wax, caseins, tempera, etc., rub wax medium over painting, brush off excess, smooth with brush (soft horsehair shoe brushes are excellent). Let dry several days or weeks before final polishing with a soft lint-free cloth. Use directly from the jar. For brushing or spraying, thin wax medium to a liquid with turpentine or mineral spirits. For more gloss, add dammar resin or modern water-white synthetic varnishes that are turpentine soluble.


Dorland’s Wax Medium seals artwork with a clear, tough satin finish. It will not yellow or turn brown with age like some resin picture varnishes. Apply un-thinned, brush smooth, then let dry several days if polishing is desired. Never varnish a wax-oil painting. The wax will repel varnish.


Use gold, silver, or other metallic powders, dry pigments, oil colors, or dyes, etc., mixed with wax medium. Rub on frame, wipe off excess, and polish. For spray or spatter, thin to liquid.


Rub wax medium over photo, brush off excess, smooth surface with brush. Then, polish immediately to desired surface.


Use water or water with a mild detergent to remove dirt and grime. (Wax paintings only. Do not use water on oil paintings.)


Mix 1 part Dorland’s Wax Medium to 6 parts turpentine. Rub on with cloth or swab, wipe off, repeat as necessary. For more “bite,” add alcohol, diacetone, or acetone to the above formula. CAUTION: These solvents may work faster, but are extremely flammable, toxic, and may remove paints as well as varnishes.


Rub wax medium onto surface, brush excess out of cracks, brush smooth. To receive full benefit, let harden several days before final polishing. For spray coating, thin wax medium to liquid, spray on, air blast excess from crevices, let dry and harden.


Mix 1 part wax medium to 2 parts mineral spirits for a basic polishing wax. Rub on, wipe off, and polish immediately.


For porous and weakened pieces, worm eaten wood, weathered and decaying objects, repeatedly coat the surface with wax medium while using heat lamps to keep the surface warm and aid in penetration (Use heat lamps in well ventilated area). For hard to move garden sculptures, apply wax medium in the hot sun.

Additional information

Size oz

16 oz, 4 oz, gallon

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