When you’re opening a typical bottle of alcohol, such a bottle of wine or whiskey, you’ll probably be opening it one of two ways: either by extracting a cork or unscrewing a cap. If you’re dealing with a cork, you’ll also probably notice that there is a covering around the top of the bottle that needs to be removed first. It’s usually made of plastic or tin.
Even though you probably don’t think twice about it, that thin layer of plastic or tin is absolutely crucial to the life of that bottle of alcohol. It serves the important purpose of keeping moisture, bacteria and other contaminants away from the cork.
If exposed to too much air and moisture, corks can deteriorate over time and expose the contents of the bottle to contamination. This is especially true of natural corks, which are actually made of tree bark tissue. Modern synthetic corks are made of plastic compounds which reduce the risk of deterioration and contamination, but still need that covering seal.
In some cases, instead of a plastic or tin sheath, bottles are dipped in wax to create a seal around the opening. It’s a relatively rare sight in today’s alcohol marketplace, but it used to be a standard practice a long time ago.
Before the invention of plastics and modern industrial processes, the only solution to keeping a bottle of alcohol fresh was to cork it and seal it with wax.
In most cases, the wax was trimmed after the bottle was dipped, creating a neat seal around the very top of the bottle. Some brands went with the “drip” look and marketed bottles with wax covering most of the bottle’s neck. This is essentially a branding tool that created instantly recognizable bottles.
In the end, the crucial aspect of bottle sealing wax is that it forms an airtight seal around the top of the bottle, protecting the cork.
Historically, specialized bottle sealing wax provided many benefits, such as:
Nowadays, with the invention of plastic and tin wrapping, bottle sealing wax is no longer a necessity for product safety. However, certain alcohol brands use bottle sealing wax for marketing purposes in creating a distinct look for their products.
Bottle sealing wax is primarily used for alcohol bottles, it can be used for any number of bottle-sealing applications, including perfume, cosmetics, and other food and drink such as honey, sauces and syrups.
In any application, the idea behind bottle sealing wax is the same: it is used to preserve and protect the contents of a corked bottle – and conveys a certain look to boot.
Bottle sealing wax is often used by artisanal alcohol producers to convey a connection with the past, or the “old ways” of doing things. If you’re looking to seal your own bottles of wine, it’s also a good choice as it’s a relatively easy and inexpensive option.
Here’s a general guide for using bottle sealing wax.
One pound of bottle sealing wax will yield about 25-30 dipped bottles. The size of the bottles you are using will determine exactly how far your wax will go.
Depending on the length of the bottle necks, you will need a container that is deep enough to allow enough coverage of the melted wax. This might result in you needing more wax to get the job done properly.
Today, bottle sealing wax’s best quality is its distinctive look. Bottles sealed with a brightly coloured wax top, especially if it’s dripped down the neck, will always be eye-catching.
Bottle sealing wax is a great choice for special editions, limited-run distillations, or customized gifts.
Keep in mind that this look will lend a certain retro-artisanal quality to the bottle, which may work for some brands but not others. It’s up to you to find the right way to use bottle sealing wax for your products.
Remember that despite it being a callback to the past, bottle sealing wax will provide all the necessary safety and preservation benefits of modern bottle seals – just with a unique look.