Wax is a greasy or oily solid that melts in heat. This article discusses poisoning due to swallowing large amounts of wax or crayons.
This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.
This ingredient is found in:
- Canning wax
Note: This list may not be all-inclusive.
In general, wax is not poisonous. If a child eats a small amount of crayon, the wax will pass through the child's system without causing a problem. However, eating large amounts of wax or crayons can lead to intestinal obstruction.
People attempting to smuggle illegal drugs across international borders sometimes swallow packets of illegal substances that are layered in wax. If the packaging ruptures the drug is released, usually causing severe poisoning. The wax can then cause intestinal obstruction as well.
Before Calling Emergency
Get the following information:
- Person's age, weight, and condition
- Name of the product (ingredients and strength, if known)
- Time it was swallowed
- Amount swallowed
Your local poison control center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What to Expect at the Emergency Room
If it is necessary to go to the emergency room, the health care provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated, if needed.
Recovery is very likely.
Hoggett KA. Drugs of abuse. In: Cameron P, Little M, Mitra B, Deasy C, eds. Textbook of Adult Emergency Medicine. 5th ed. Sydney, Australia: Elsevier; 2020:chap 25.12.
Pfau PR, Hancock SM. Foreign bodies, bezoars, and caustic ingestions. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology/Diagnosis/Management. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 27.
Last reviewed on: 9/26/2019
Reviewed by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Emeritus, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.