Encaustic, from the Greek encuastikos, means to "heat" or "burn". Heat is use at every stage of encaustic painting. The medium consists of beeswax melted with a small amount of resin to impact harness and pigment for the rich colors adde to the molten wax.
Painting requires quick work, as the wax begins to harden the moment it leaves the heat source. The heat binds each layer to the one set own before it, so while the image my consist of discrete compositional elements, structurally the entire surface is one carefully crafted mass, a "whole ball of wax", if you will.