The key difference between paraben and paraffin is that paraben is useful in preserving cosmetics, whereas paraffin is useful in making products glossy or giving more lubricating properties.
Parabens are organic compounds consisting of one ester functional group and a hydroxyl group. Paraffin compounds, on the other hand, are alkanes that can be described as saturated hydrocarbons having the chemical formula CnH2n+2.
What is Paraben?
Parabens are organic compounds consisting of one ester functional group and a hydroxyl group. Parabens are common, and they are useful as preservatives in the pharmaceutical industry, cosmetic industry, etc. The chemical structure of these compounds has a benzene ring attached to an ester group and a hydroxyl group at the para position. Therefore, these compounds are known as esters of para-hydroxybenzoic acid.
There are commercially available parabens that are synthetic products. However, there are also some paraben forms that are identical to the parabens we can find in nature. The production method of parabens is via the esterification of para-hydroxybenzoic acid with an alcohol such as methanol, ethanol, and n-propanol.
We can see parabens as effective preservatives in many types of formulas. These compounds and their salts are very useful due to their bactericidal and fungicidal properties. We can find these compounds in shampoos, commercially available moisturizers, shaving gels, personal lubricants, makeup, and toothpaste. Sometimes, we can use these compounds as food preservatives as well.
What is Paraffin?
Paraffin compounds are alkanes that can be described as saturated hydrocarbons with the chemical formula CnH2n+2 (where n is a whole number). We can call these compounds hydrocarbons because they contain C and H atoms. All these atoms are connected to each other via single covalent bonds. Since there are no double or triple bonds, paraffins are saturated hydrocarbons.
Moreover, paraffin compounds are a broad group of organic molecules. We can name them according to the number of carbon atoms and the side groups that they contain. The smallest alkane is methane. In methane, a central carbon atom binds to four hydrogen atoms. The IUPAC nomenclature of paraffin is based on Greek prefixes.
All paraffins are colourless and odourless. Their melting points and boiling points increase with the increase in the number of carbon atoms. Under standard temperature and pressure conditions, some of them are liquids, while some are gaseous compounds. This difference is due to their different boiling points. Moreover, alkanes show isomerism. A paraffin molecule may have structural isomerism or stereoisomerism according to its structure and spatial arrangement of the molecule.
What is the Difference Between Paraben and Paraffin?
Parabens and paraffins are important organic compounds. The key difference between paraben and paraffin is that parabens are useful in preserving cosmetics, whereas paraffins are useful in making products glossy or giving more lubricating properties. Moreover, paraben is produced by the esterification of para-hydroxybenzoic acid in the presence of alcohol while paraffin is obtained from petroleum by dewaxing light lubricating oil stocks.
The below infographic presents the differences between paraben and paraffin in tabular form for side by side comparison.
Summary – Paraben vs Paraffin
Parabens are organic compounds consisting of one ester functional group and a hydroxyl group. Paraffin compounds are alkanes and saturated hydrocarbons having the chemical formula CnH2n+2. The key difference between paraben and paraffin is that parabens are useful in preserving cosmetics, whereas paraffins are useful in making products glossy or giving more lubricating properties.
1. “Paraffin Wax.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.