Paraffin Bath

Wingsley

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 20, 2014
139
10
Several weeks ago, I had surgery on my left hand, which is also my writing hand.

I had to go through physical therapy, and one of the items the therapist introduced me to was a paraffin bath. I had to dip my hand, quickly, into hot wax several times to warm up the muscles and tendons for therapy. My therapy is concluded now, so I'm left to exercise my hand on my own. Heating pads aren't really effective in warming my hand.

I'm thinking about getting my own paraffin bath. Any suggestions on what to look for, where to shop for it, how to maintain it, and how to store it? It's one thing to use a therapist's unit and another thing to top shopping for your own and to figure out how to use it and tend to it correctly.

Any suggestions?
 

Scepticalscribe

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Jul 29, 2008
49,146
33,058
The Far Horizon
Several weeks ago, I had surgery on my left hand, which is also my writing hand.

I had to go through physical therapy, and one of the items the therapist introduced me to was a paraffin bath. I had to dip my hand, quickly, into hot wax several times to warm up the muscles and tendons for therapy. My therapy is concluded now, so I'm left to exercise my hand on my own. Heating pads aren't really effective in warming my hand.

I'm thinking about getting my own paraffin bath. Any suggestions on what to look for, where to shop for it, how to maintain it, and how to store it? It's one thing to use a therapist's unit and another thing to top shopping for your own and to figure out how to use it and tend to it correctly.

Any suggestions?
Can you not book further sessions with a therapist?

After all, they are professionally trained in the use of a paraffin bath.
 

chown33

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 9, 2009
8,592
4,741
inter-prandial
I'd probably start by asking the therapist. At least get a few manufacturer names and models.

A friend of mine had physical therapy a couple years ago. She used a TENS unit in therapy, and wrote down the mfgr and model. It was about $100 on Amazon, so she got it. There might have been better bargains, but she already knew how the controls worked.
 

Wingsley

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 20, 2014
139
10
Can you not book further sessions with a therapist?

After all, they are professionally trained in the use of a paraffin bath.
My physical therapy was declared "completed" a couple weeks ago. I could still ask them questions, but I'm not going in there without it being covered. My hand microsurgeon, who prescribed the therapy, concurred with the "completed" declaration as well.

My father also went in for therapy at the same time. He's on Medicare and also supplemental, so he got a detailed readout on the transactions. WOW. Those sessions are expensive. They run through a $20 and they run through a $50 and they run through a $100 just as fast as they can go...

If I inquire with the therapist again, it will likely be to get information. Sounds like actual therapy appointments are not a realistic possibility at this point.

I tried using one of those neck-wraparound heat pads today, wrapping it around my hand. It seemed to help. I'm going to experiment with that before making a decision on investing in any new equipment.
 

Scepticalscribe

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Jul 29, 2008
49,146
33,058
The Far Horizon
My physical therapy was declared "completed" a couple weeks ago. I could still ask them questions, but I'm not going in there without it being covered. My hand microsurgeon, who prescribed the therapy, concurred with the "completed" declaration as well.

My father also went in for therapy at the same time. He's on Medicare and also supplemental, so he got a detailed readout on the transactions. WOW. Those sessions are expensive. They run through a $20 and they run through a $50 and they run through a $100 just as fast as they can go...

If I inquire with the therapist again, it will likely be to get information. Sounds like actual therapy appointments are not a realistic possibility at this point.

I tried using one of those neck-wraparound heat pads today, wrapping it around my hand. It seemed to help. I'm going to experiment with that before making a decision on investing in any new equipment.
As @chown33 suggests, why not seek advice from the therapist as to the best equipment to use or invest in, or how best to proceed if you wish to treat yourself (and I'm not in the US; we have a different health system Across the Pond), as the therapist will know this subject - both equipment and treatment - a lot better than you, and may be able to tender good advice.
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
May 5, 2008
18,077
18,552
The Misty Mountains
For the OP, what if you put your hand in hot water? I assume the heat makes your hand feel better. What kind of discomfort are you feeling?
 

jtara

macrumors 68000
Mar 23, 2009
1,913
495
“I had laparoscopic knee surgery and now I’m good as new! Where can I get my own laparoscopic instruments?”
👨‍🔬
 

konqerror

macrumors 68000
Dec 31, 2013
1,582
2,567
“I had laparoscopic knee surgery and now I’m good as new! Where can I get my own laparoscopic instruments?”
👨‍🔬
If you need to go to a professional every time you need a glorified hot water bath, then I think I've found the reason why healthcare costs are so high.
 

jtara

macrumors 68000
Mar 23, 2009
1,913
495
Ok, in all seriousness, did you get any advice about how to modify your activities to help?

Are you perhaps a school teacher? My sister got carpel tunnel syndrome from grading papers! Had to have surgery. So I am certainly sympathetic.

I myself had a scare a few years ago, when I started to lose feeling in one hand. Doctor asked the right simple questions, (after running some tests with electrical probes) and then asked me what I was doing with my left elbow.

Leaning it on my desk, is what I was doing.

I don’t do that any more! The problem has not recurred.
 

Wingsley

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 20, 2014
139
10
The cause of all this fuss: I had surgery on one of my fingers. The last joint in the finger disintegrated because of an injury when I was a kid, so the last bone was kind of free-floating in there. The surgeon cut my finger open, inserted a titanium pin, and screwed the last two bones of my finger together. (They call it fusion.)

It was painful for a few weeks afterwards, but most of the pain was due to swelling. Once the incision healed, most of the incision pain was gone. As stated, most of the remaining pain was due to swelling. (The finger was like someone attached a bicycle tire inflator to the end and blew it up!) Most of the swelling has subsided now.

The remaining issues are a combination of getting the muscles and tendons to work properly and the remaining swelling (which still varies, but nowhere near as bad as the weeks following surgery).

The big reason for the heat is *not* pain. It's getting my finger to loosen up enough to do exercises with it (physical therapy to get it to work normally). My finger is operating at substantially reduced capacity. It may never be 100%, but it can be a lot closer. I just need to exercise and "therapize" (if that's a word) to get the tendons and muscles to work. I cannot make a closed fist with that hand anymore, but I can grip (somewhat). The heat is necessary to for both limbering up the hand to make exercises work better and for expediency.

I have been trying a flexible heating pad, which does help significantly, but the paraffin bath is the most effective technique.
 
  • Like
Reactions: decafjava and Huntn

jtara

macrumors 68000
Mar 23, 2009
1,913
495
How much paraffin? what temperature? I have an idea that will give you a second use for the equipment. Get a tank-style sousvide cooker. (not an immersion style). Then you can make a paraffin bath, and also turn out perfect steaks every time!

I have this:


This has a stainless steel tank. It’s meant to be a precise water bath. But some cooks do use it to poach in oil. No reason you can’t put paraffin in it. A POSSIBLE glitch is I think it has a load cell that weights the water to insure you are with min/max fill level. You’d have to check that the Sg of parafin is close to that of water.

There is also now a compact version. But I don’t think I’d recommend it for cooking. one of the cool things about sous vide cooking is cooking in batch and then freezing the unopened bags for later use.

it will maintain temp of the bath to +- 1 degree.

Limited to about 200F for safety (you wouldn’t want boiling action) assume the paraffin bath is much lower than that! Actually I’d imagine the paraffin bath is actually in the typical sous vide meat cooking range.

(haha maybe you can cook steaks and your hand at the same time! Incentivizing therapy)

dont get a wand/stick type circulator you will gum it up It will be a disaster.

Dont overdo it, medium rare is around 135 and you’d cook something the thickness of you finger for about 2 hours!

sous vide cooking came about from chefs experimenting with laboratory baths and circulators, so this is basically the same thing.

i Wouldn’t use some pot meant for cosmetic use with imprecise temperature control. I know somebody who was renting out a space to a woman who did waxing. She left the pot on over night. It caused a fire!
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Scepticalscribe

Wingsley

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 20, 2014
139
10
This is a fairly good demonstration video of what my experience was at physical therapy:

- - Post merged: - -

How much paraffin? what temperature? I have an idea that will give you a second use for the equipment. Get a tank-style sousvide cooker. (not an immersion style). Then you can make a paraffin bath, and also turn out perfect steaks every time!

I have this:


This has a stainless steel tank. It’s meant to be a precise water bath. But some cooks do use it to poach in oil. No reason you can’t put paraffin in it. A POSSIBLE glitch is I think it has a load cell that weights the water to insure you are with min/max fill level. You’d have to check that the Sg of parafin is close to that of water.

There is also now a compact version. But I don’t think I’d recommend it for cooking. one of the cool things about sous vide cooking is cooking in batch and then freezing the unopened bags for later use.

it will maintain temp of the bath to +- 1 degree.

Limited to about 200F for safety (you wouldn’t want boiling action) assume the paraffin bath is much lower than that! Actually I’d imagine the paraffin bath is actually in the typical sous vide meat cooking range.

(haha maybe you can cook steaks and your hand at the same time! Incentivizing therapy)

dont get a wand/stick type circulator you will gum it up It will be a disaster.

Dont overdo it, medium rare is around 135 and you’d cook something the thickness of you finger for about 2 hours!

sous vide cooking came about from chefs experimenting with laboratory baths and circulators, so this is basically the same thing.

i Wouldn’t use some pot meant for cosmetic use with imprecise temperature control. I know somebody who was renting out a space to a woman who did waxing. She left the pot on over night. It caused a fire!

Neat idea, but wayyyyy out of my price range. Thanks for sharing.
 
Last edited:

smirking

macrumors 68020
Aug 31, 2003
2,461
1,887
Silicon Valley
I'm a former physical therapist. There's nothing magical about the paraffin baths at the clinic. It's just a temperature controlled warmer that's set hot enough to melt the wax, but not so hot that you're going to burn your hand.

I had a hand injury myself a few years ago and I purchased a paraffin bath to help me do my therapy on my own. The temperature of the bath may be less precise than what you'd get in an industrial sized bath. It'll always be hot enough for therapeutic purposes and hot enough to keep the wax melted, but sometimes you wish it were just a degree warmer and occasionally it's a degree too hot.

Here's the one I purchased:


In addition to the paraffin bath, you'll also need to get a bunch of plastic bags. They also make therapy mitts which are just glorified oven mitts that help retain the heat. You can also just wrap your hand up with towels, but the mitts are real convenient.

There are different grades of paraffin that you can get. I'm not intimately familiar with what they all are. I do know that the paraffin that came with this unit was pretty close or as good as what I had in the clinic.

How to store a paraffin bath? Well, if you're using it regularly, you won't be storing it anywhere. It takes about a day for the wax to all melt so you can't turn it off and put it away. Also, it's hard to keep wax from getting everywhere so you need to put it someplace where it won't be a tradgedy if you get wax everywhere (and you will get wax everywhere). I put my tank on the bathroom counter and the mirror got speckled with streaks of wax from me dipping my hand.

You'll also want to know how to get wax out of your clothes. First of all, really try not to get wax on your clothes. It's hard to get out and it may stain. If you get wax on anything, use a paper towel and a hairdryer. Heat the fabric with the hair dryer and blot it as the wax melts.

About the only maintenance you'll need to do is you'll want to periodically get debris out of the bath. Well, you don't have to, but it does get gross after a while. A fine strainer will help you fish out floaters to keep it from getting too funky, but at some point you'll have to either dig out the wax and scrape the bottom layer off or you can dump the wax and start over. The wax is expensive though so I'd let the wax cool enough to solidify (but not entirely), dig it out, and cut off the bottom layer where all the debris has settled.

Paraffin is fun! I don't blame you for wanting one for home.
 
Last edited:

AlliFlowers

Contributor
Jan 1, 2011
4,473
9,594
L.A. (Lower Alabama)
I'm thinking about getting my own paraffin bath. Any suggestions on what to look for, where to shop for it, how to maintain it, and how to store it? It's one thing to use a therapist's unit and another thing to top shopping for your own and to figure out how to use it and tend to it correctly.

Any suggestions?
Often, you can buy them at Walmart, or at any beauty goods store. It's a standard part of manicure at most salons. I love paraffin treatments on my feet.

If you can't find one locally, you can find them on Amazon, or if you're willing to wait, AliExpress.
 

Wingsley

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 20, 2014
139
10
I'm a former physical therapist. There's nothing magical about the paraffin baths at the clinic. It's just a temperature controlled warmer that's set hot enough to melt the wax, but not so hot that you're going to burn your hand.

I had a hand injury myself a few years ago and I purchased a paraffin bath to help me do my therapy on my own. The temperature of the bath may be less precise than what you'd get in an industrial sized bath. It'll always be hot enough for therapeutic purposes and hot enough to keep the wax melted, but sometimes you wish it were just a degree warmer and occasionally it's a degree too hot.

Here's the one I purchased:


In addition to the paraffin bath, you'll also need to get a bunch of plastic bags. They also make therapy mitts which are just glorified oven mitts that help retain the heat. You can also just wrap your hand up with towels, but the mitts are real convenient.

There are different grades of paraffin that you can get. I'm not intimately familiar with what they all are. I do know that the paraffin that came with this unit was pretty close or as good as what I had in the clinic.

How to store a paraffin bath? Well, if you're using it regularly, you won't be storing it anywhere. It takes about a day for the wax to all melt so you can't turn it off and put it away. Also, it's hard to keep wax from getting everywhere so you need to put it someplace where it won't be a tradgedy if you get wax everywhere (and you will get wax everywhere). I put my tank on the bathroom counter and the mirror got speckled with streaks of wax from me dipping my hand.

You'll also want to know how to get wax out of your clothes. First of all, really try not to get wax on your clothes. It's hard to get out and it may stain. If you get wax on anything, use a paper towel and a hairdryer. Heat the fabric with the hair dryer and blot it as the wax melts.

About the only maintenance you'll need to do is you'll want to periodically get debris out of the bath. Well, you don't have to, but it does get gross after a while. A fine strainer will help you fish out floaters to keep it from getting too funky, but at some point you'll have to either dig out the wax and scrape the bottom layer off or you can dump the wax and start over. The wax is expensive though so I'd let the wax cool enough to solidify (but not entirely), dig it out, and cut off the bottom layer where all the debris has settled.

Paraffin is fun! I don't blame you for wanting one for home.
Looks like a great setup, but I don't think I can afford one that nice.
- - Post merged: - -

Often, you can buy them at Walmart, or at any beauty goods store. It's a standard part of manicure at most salons. I love paraffin treatments on my feet.

If you can't find one locally, you can find them on Amazon, or if you're willing to wait, AliExpress.
The French one is interesting, but that begs questions:
1: How do I convert Euros to $$$? Does their web-site accept orders from USA?
2: Not sure what to do about the European power plug. (???) Would I have to seek out a converter?
 

jtara

macrumors 68000
Mar 23, 2009
1,913
495
Curious what the typical temperature is? I wouldn’t think any thing over 130F which is the recommended limit for home hot water.

i imagine the heaters in these are low wattage which is why it takes so long to melt?

My sous-vide tank is 1100 watts, so it can raise water from tap temp to 130 in minutes. (But I draw hot water anyway because the water is not in contact with food when cooking). It will typically draw 20 watts to maintain cooking temperature.

i guess dual use would be impractical. I suppose you’d get quite a mess emptying the tank of paraffin in order to fill with water for cooking!

Please do measure temperature independently with a traditional or digital thermometer. I suspect these things are closer to a crock pot then a sous vide cooker or laboratory water bath.

dont think this is something I would be comfortable buying from Ali Express! Though it provably all comes from the same places...
 
  • Like
Reactions: Wingsley

Scepticalscribe

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Jul 29, 2008
49,146
33,058
The Far Horizon
I'm a former physical therapist. There's nothing magical about the paraffin baths at the clinic. It's just a temperature controlled warmer that's set hot enough to melt the wax, but not so hot that you're going to burn your hand.

I had a hand injury myself a few years ago and I purchased a paraffin bath to help me do my therapy on my own. The temperature of the bath may be less precise than what you'd get in an industrial sized bath. It'll always be hot enough for therapeutic purposes and hot enough to keep the wax melted, but sometimes you wish it were just a degree warmer and occasionally it's a degree too hot.

Here's the one I purchased:


In addition to the paraffin bath, you'll also need to get a bunch of plastic bags. They also make therapy mitts which are just glorified oven mitts that help retain the heat. You can also just wrap your hand up with towels, but the mitts are real convenient.

There are different grades of paraffin that you can get. I'm not intimately familiar with what they all are. I do know that the paraffin that came with this unit was pretty close or as good as what I had in the clinic.

How to store a paraffin bath? Well, if you're using it regularly, you won't be storing it anywhere. It takes about a day for the wax to all melt so you can't turn it off and put it away. Also, it's hard to keep wax from getting everywhere so you need to put it someplace where it won't be a tradgedy if you get wax everywhere (and you will get wax everywhere). I put my tank on the bathroom counter and the mirror got speckled with streaks of wax from me dipping my hand.

You'll also want to know how to get wax out of your clothes. First of all, really try not to get wax on your clothes. It's hard to get out and it may stain. If you get wax on anything, use a paper towel and a hairdryer. Heat the fabric with the hair dryer and blot it as the wax melts.

About the only maintenance you'll need to do is you'll want to periodically get debris out of the bath. Well, you don't have to, but it does get gross after a while. A fine strainer will help you fish out floaters to keep it from getting too funky, but at some point you'll have to either dig out the wax and scrape the bottom layer off or you can dump the wax and start over. The wax is expensive though so I'd let the wax cool enough to solidify (but not entirely), dig it out, and cut off the bottom layer where all the debris has settled.

Paraffin is fun! I don't blame you for wanting one for home.

Terrific post, informed, balanced and sympathetic, which gives advantages, disadvantages and possible issues to keep in mind when using paraffin.

To the OP, any currency converter online will readily convert currencies for you; simply type in your values and current exchange rates will be displayed.

And yes, if you buy something of that sort from Europe, you will need an adaptor. The European standard differs from that in the UK (and Ireland), and both differ from the standards of the US.

I have several world wide adaptors - I generally buy one n an airport anytime I travel - and find them very useful.
 

smirking

macrumors 68020
Aug 31, 2003
2,461
1,887
Silicon Valley
Looks like a great setup, but I don't think I can afford one that nice.
That one is a semi-professional unit. There are a lot of lower end units that are considerably smaller. You're just dipping a finger so you can get just about anything that works. As I said before, the bath is just a warmer. There are plenty of things that can keep a consistent temperature. The wax itself is not cheap so you won't want one too large anyway. A lot of these are made to be large enough to dip your foot or entire forearm in.

I don't know what your budget is, but even the inexpensive paraffin baths may be a little pricey. If they're all beyond your reach, you may just want to try wrapping a microwaveable gel hot pack in a thin towel, apply it, and then wrap a bulkier towel around your hand.

There's also nothing wrong with just using hot water. You could use a tub of hot water and add a little more hot water from a thermos every few minutes once the water cools off too much.
- - Post merged: - -

Curious what the typical temperature is? I wouldn’t think any thing over 130F which is the recommended limit for home hot water.

i imagine the heaters in these are low wattage which is why it takes so long to melt?
They're somewhere around 130F. The one I have is rated at 126-132F. They are indeed low wattage. They're not intended to be heated up quickly. The normal use is for them to be turned on and left on indefinately. These are basically low heat crock pots.

i guess dual use would be impractical. I suppose you’d get quite a mess emptying the tank of paraffin in order to fill with water for cooking!
That's too funny. I completely thought you were just joking about dual use. Yeah, I really don't think you want to risk putting wax in your expensive cooker. Wax is very messy.
 
Last edited: