Wax paper is a mainstay in many homes, and it serves numerous purposes in the kitchen. Invented by Thomas Edison, wax paper, or waxed paper, works well for wrapping food items for storing. It's also handy for covering open plates or bowls of food in a microwave to prevent splattering. However, according to "Cook's Illustrated," a cooking instruction magazine, wax paper isn't adequate for use on a cookie sheet when baking.
Wax paper, made from tissue-like paper, features a thin coating of paraffin on both sides. This makes wax paper resistant to grease -- to an extent. In a hot oven, the paraffin coating can melt, reducing the paper's grease-resistant capabilities. Grease from cookies, or other foods, can penetrate the paper and reach the cookie sheet beneath.
The paraffin coating also resists moisture, but not for long. When exposed to liquid, wax paper quickly weakens, making it substandard for use in direct contact with foods that contain moisture.
Once the paraffin coating melts, wax paper tears easily. While using the paper to line a cookie sheet isn't advisable, you may use wax paper to line the inside bottom of a cake pan. Even though cake batter is wet, it covers the entire piece of waxed paper, which offers some protection for the paper. Also, in hot oven temperatures, uncovered wax paper can blacken and smoke, giving your food a disagreeable singed odor.
If you have parchment paper, use that to line a cookie sheet before baking cookies, biscuits or other baked goods. Parchment is slightly thicker than wax paper, and it has a silicone coating, which resists damage from moisture and does not melt at normal oven temperatures. A silicone-baking mat is another option for protecting your cooking sheet and making cleanup a snap.