The differences between flexible sealing wax and traditional sealing wax
Traditional wax was purpose-designed for two things: to take an accurate, very detailed impression from a seal, and to be fragile and brittle so that it would crack and break off a sealed document in the event of any tampering whatsoever. Seals were used in past centuries to certify the validity and authority of the contents of a document, such as indentures, proclamations, or legal agreements. Seals were also used to literally “seal” private letters.
Today’s postal service raised the need for a durable wax and so came flexible sealing waxes. In modern times, the use of sealing wax on correspondence is largely for decorative purposes rather than for security or legal purposes. People usually want their seals to remain affixed to correspondence rather than to break off. Traditional sealing wax has little chance of surviving any modern postal service and arriving at its destination intact.
Both waxes make sharp impressions. Wax Seal Shop sells both flexible wax and traditional wax; and both are formulated to take razor-sharp impressions in all their elegant detail.
When to use flexible wax
We suggest you use flexible sealing wax on correspondence that goes through the post or for personal invitations and the like.
When to use traditional wax
We suggest you use traditional formula sealing wax for decorative purposes such as artwork, certificates, papercraft, personally delivered note cards; or for packages that require proof of tampering. Traditional sealing wax makes a splendid finishing touch to place cards at an elegant dinner, or to party favours at a wedding.
A special note to brides and their fiancés
Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to tie the knot (what a great saying), you’ve selected your favourite symbol seal, or you’ve had one custom-made of your family arms or with your initials intertwined. You’ve purchased your J Herbin flexible wax in a colour that matches your wedding colours.
Here are a few tips to make this big sealing wax job enjoyable and romantic:
- First, be sure you’ve read our How to Guide – Wax Seals: Tips & Tricks, and have these instructions close at hand.
- We suggest you practice making seal impressions on some less expensive envelopes or thick paper until you get a sense and feel for sealing.
This is a great and fun process! Please contact us if you have any questions about how much wax to order, what the colours are like, or the process of melting the wax. We are happy to help.
Dealing with the postal service
To avoid trouble with the post you should place your seal well out of the way of the stamp. If a letter, put the seal on the back of the envelope. If a postcard, place the seal on the left hand side of the postcard, away from the stamp, or on the backside of the postcard. If a package, place your seals away from the mailing label.
1. Melting the sealing wax
At Wax Seal Shop we provide several types of wax that can be easily melted using a torch lighter or match directly onto the wax or wick. Or for an easier option you can use our glue gun wax sticks and special wax glue gun.
If melting the sealing wax directly from the wax stick or block, using either a torch lighter match hold the stick in one hand (your preferred 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.
2. Stirring and shaping the molten wax puddle
Once you have melted a tiny puddle of sealing wax, approximately a 5 to 10 cent coin size, you then begin to round the puddle of wax into the shape of your round seal. You can use the stick of wax as your stirring tool. Stirring allows you to feel when the wax begins to stiffen a bit and after a few tries you will develop a sense of when the wax is at the perfect temperature to take the most detailed impression.
3. Creating a moisture barrier
There are two things we need to be concerned with at this point:
- what sort of wax is to be used: flexible sealing wax or traditional formula wax; and
- what material is the seal made of.
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.
If you are using flexible sealing wax, and your seal is made of metal (gold, silver, bronze, brass, copper, or steel), than a vapour barrier is NOT necessary (this includes wax gun sticks).
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 highly effective.
- For glue gun users the ice cube method is popular. 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.
4. Impressing the seal, when and how
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.
Remember to be careful. The wax is hot and you have open flames and paper around. Be sure not to leave children unattended and keep an eye out for burning your fingers with the hot wax.
5. Adding ink dust
- Download our wax seal guide
- Download our guide to creating wax seals using wax cakes and wax blocks
- Download our guide to using the wax glue gun and glue gun sticks
In 3 Easy Steps:
- Start by browsing and selecting from either our single wax seals, double wax seals, symbol wax seals or create your own design with our custom wax seals.
- Select your sealing wax – either by use (flexible or traditional) or from our lovely range of colours.
- Make your letter wax sealing process easier or embellished with our range of letter seal accessories