Hundred-Year-Old Parowax (Paraffin) Advertisement

Source: Ladies Home Journal (August, 1911)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (August, 1911)

Does anyone seal jelly jars with paraffin anymore? This old Parowax ad reminded me of how much I’ve changed the way I seal jam and jelly jars.  I can clearly remember putting wax on the top of jelly jars when I was a young adult – but shifted to using canning lids and water-bath processing years ago.

61 thoughts on “Hundred-Year-Old Parowax (Paraffin) Advertisement

  1. My experience was the same as yours. The parafin was a mess! If there were two molecules of jam on the edge, it wouldn’t seal. I loved the reliability of the metal tops. Thanks for writing about these things. It’s fun to go down memory lane with you.

  2. Oh, my.. It has been along time since I have thought about paraffin!! So I guess that tells you ..I don’t use it anymore. 🙂 I had used it,but the best memory I have of that stuff is as a child I loved to open the new jar so I could lick the jam off the paraffin. 😄

    1. I have similar memories of having fun opening jelly jars when I was a kid. I remember sticking a knife into the paraffin and lifting it out – generally in two pieces.

  3. I haven’t done much canning or jelly making, but still find this very interesting. The one year I did participate (lots of apricot jam), we used regular ol’ mason jars with the screw on metal lids.

  4. I do remember sealing jars with paraffin. As a matter of fact, last year I gave several pounds of figs to a friend, and received some jam in return — sealed with paraffin. Before that, the last time I found it was when I bought some honey and mayhaw jelly from a roadside stand in East Texas. I don’t know anything about the age of the (presumed) woman who made it, since there was only a jar and a note to “take what you want, leave the money in the jar.”

    I do remember my mother keeping a paraffin block around for some other purpose, and a paraffin “pencil.” I think that was for helping metal zippers slide more easily.

    1. I love your stories of when you’ve recently seen jams or jellies sealed with paraffin. I’m intrigued by the honey and mayhew jelly. It’s sounds just like the type of old-fashioned food that I like to try. If I saw it, like you, I’d definitely leave some money in the jar and buy some – and my family would probably roll their eyes and wonder about safety of it.

    1. Your comment reminds me that I used paraffin to make sand candles with my kids years ago. My memory is that I put some damp sand into an empty plastic ice cream tub, hollowed out a circle in the sand, added a wick and poured in some melted paraffin that I’d added a little food coloring to.

  5. My aunt Annie used to make Sure-gel strawberry freezer jam and place it in jelly jars, then pour on the melted paraffin wax before putting on the lids and placing in the freezer.

      1. Freezer jams taste like fresh fruit. I can’t stand cooked jams after growing up on freezer jams. Mom just placed the jam in freezer containers, as I do.

  6. I never did canning, so I can’t comment on that, though I do remember parallax on things I used. There are two things that strike me, though. The illustrations in these ads all look like they come from an earlier period, as they do, yet I can’t figure out why. Is it the hairstyle?, the apron? the artistic method?

    Also, it strikes me how deeply the oil industry is embedded in our culture.

    1. Standard Oil has been around for a long time. I love the drawings that illustrate ads and articles in old newspapers and magazines. There were some incredible illustrators back then –and I think that it was a field that employed women.

    2. You have done an amazing job with the blog. I hope you appreciate yourself.

      And now I understand something else. I have a friend who was once in a game where they had to identify food by its taste alone, with eyes closed. She hasn’t eaten chocolate since, because, she said, it tasted like eating a candle.

      1. Interesting. . . I’m going to have to think about what the chocolate really tastes like the next time I eat some. 🙂 Thanks for the kind words. I really appreciate your support.

    1. I do not recall it being as ‘ferment proof’ or ‘mold proof’ as the advertisement would seem to indicate. I can recall my grandmother opening jars of jelly (I think that is the only thing she used it with) that had molded. I do not remember any fermenting of the jelly, but then, I probably would not have known what that was then anyway as I was pretty young when she used paraffin to seal a jelly jar!

    2. I think that the government (extension service) quit recommending the use of paraffin in the 1970s — or maybe a little earlier. My memory is that the main concern at the time was that with paraffin there was more possibility of the jelly or jam spoiling (mold, etc.) than if it was processed in a water bath using metal 2-piece lids.

  7. I still have a box in a drawer in the pantry. It’s labeled Paraseal Wax For Canning, 5 cakes total at 16oz. It says it can seal 25 jelly and jam jars and the instructions are on the box. There is also a list for other uses in the home. The sticker says .39 but doesn’t mention Standard Oil. We always used wax up until I was about 13. I last remember using wax a summer I worked as a mother’s helper and I was 16 then. That was 1978.

    1. The price sounds right. 🙂 I also think that paraffin become less popular in the 1970’s. I think that maybe the extension service quit recommending paraffin at that time.

      1. But it seems to me that even though we started using lids we did not water bath them, just filled them to 1/4 ” with the hot jelly then flipped them over and set to cool.

  8. I was around ladies that used paraffin to seal their jellies with, however my Mom canned hers. She was never a fan of using wax.
    I like reading the old ads and enjoy the artwork too.

    1. My mother-in-law used paraffin her entire life. She said that it had always worked for her in the past, so it would still work. I couldn’t argue with that.

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