Real wax v Imi wax: How to tell the difference.
African Print Fabric falls into two broad categories: Real Wax and Imi Wax.
Real Wax is the industrial version of Indonesian batik cloth. Machines are used to
apply wax resins and dyes to achieve the batik effect on both sides of the
fabric. There is no difference in the colour intensity on either the front or
back of the cloth. The fabric is characterised by the “crackle” arising from the manufacturing process. The result is that no two pieces of fabric are alike which increases the value of the fabric in the eyes of African consumers. Real Wax is the
most expensive African Print Fabric. Real Wax is produced in Holland, Nigeria, Ghana, the Ivory Coast and China.
The Imi (or imitation) Wax designs are roller printed and any “crackle” is only an imitation of Real Wax. The design is only printed on one side of the fabric. This is perhaps the easiest way to distinguish Real Wax from Imi Wax. Nigeria was the largest producer of Imi Wax but China now dominates.