Yes. And here’s why…
According to Arts, Crafts & Theatre Safety’s ACTS FACTS, “handling solid wax products at room temperature is not dangerous. Wax only becomes dangerous when heated or burned. All waxes emit similar substances when heated because waxes actually are mixtures of similarly structured organic chemicals. And because they are mixtures, it also is difficult to predict the exact temperature at which they begin to decompose.
Decomposition occurs when heat breaks down large wax molecules into many smaller ones. Almost no decomposition takes place when wax is just warm enough to melt. As the temperature increases, decomposition accelerates creating more and more small molecules. Some of these are very toxic gases that are released into the air. They account for the typical ‘hot wax’ odor we smell around wax pots or when batik resists are ironed. Among these gases are acrolein and aldehydes such formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.
Acrolein and the aldehydes are irritants which can damage the respiratory tract. Artists chronically exposed to small amounts may develop more colds and repiratory infections than usual because their irritated sinuses and respiratory membranes are less able to resist invasion by infectious organisms. More serious problems such as bronchitis and chemical pneumonia may develop in people who are exposed to larger amounts of these chemicals.
Wax molecules also vaporize and recondense above hot wax to form tiny airborne wax particles called ‘wax fume’. These small fume particles can be inhaled deep into the lung’s air sacs where the body finds it difficult to remove them. Wax fume is usually invisible, but when wax is greatly overheated, it appears as a fog hovering around the wax surface. This fog can explode or flash into fire if a spark or flame is present.”
Thanks to Laura Moriarty at R&F Paints for her post on this subject.