Carnauba wax is acquired from the leaf of the carnauba palm tree. Given that the plant is native to northern Brazil, which has a very hot and humid climate, the wax is necessary for the plant’s survival. It serves as a protective layer that shields the leaves from heat, UV rays, and water. These are all useful traits, not only for the tree but for your vehicle.
But what is carnauba wax? In its natural form, the wax is a yellow, hard, flaky substance. To obtain it, the leaves are gathered, dried and beaten to loosen it.
The carnauba palm tree can produce up to 60 leaves. However, in order to avoid harming the tree, only 10-20 leaves are harvested from each plant. Harvesting more could lead to a stunt in the tree’s growth and even its death.
Properties of Carnauba Wax
What is carnauba wax famous for? Well, it has found widespread use in many industries due to an impressive list of characteristics. These include:
- High melting temperature (81-86°C;180-187°F)
- Protection from UV rays
- Resistance to water
- Hypoallergenic properties
Applications of Carnauba Wax
The fact that carnauba wax has such a high melting temperature has set it apart from other natural waxes, particularly beeswax. With its hypoallergenic properties, it serves as a type of coating for various confectionery products and also acts as a binding agent. This prevents products such as chocolate and candy from melting at room temperature. Additionally, it does all this while also being safe for human consumption.
These same traits also make it quite applicable in the cosmetic industry, namely, in the production of lipsticks, foundations, deodorants, and various skincare products. We can also find it in mascaras, eyeliners, and eyeshadows. However, there have been reports of it causing dry eye syndrome, which leads to dry, irritated and itchy eyes.
Carnauba wax also acts as a tablet-coating agent in the pharmaceutical industry, as a thin coat of it aids in swallowing. In addition, carnauba wax’s most common industrial use is as a paper coating, and it can also be used in polishes for instruments, furniture, and floors.
Along with the protective qualities, it gives any surface a glossy and shiny finish. It helps protect it from water damage since carnauba wax is not soluble in water. If any comes in contact with the surface, it won't manage to get through the layer of carnauba wax.
This hydrophobic property comes in handy with leather. The same principle stands. The wax serves as a shield while also making the leather appear more reflective and glossier.
What is Carnauba Wax Used for in the Automotive Industry?
Since carnauba wax is naturally hard, car wax manufacturers mix it with solvents and oils to achieve a more malleable form. These mostly include beeswax and petroleum distillates.
There are three grades of carnauba wax purity: T1, T3, and T4. T1 is the purest and is used in the production of the so-called white/Ivory wax. Despite the name, carnauba wax is not naturally white but is rather bleached since it may leave an opaque tint.
Some manufacturers will tout that their car wax is 100% carnauba wax. This is somewhat deceptive since the 100% isn’t in reference to the contents of the car wax. It indicates whether any other wax is present. The very best carnauba wax is only ⅓ natural carnauba. Otherwise, it would be too hard to spread evenly.
The wax forms a thin layer over the paint once applied. This layer acts as a shield that protects the paint from damage. Apart from the previously mentioned beneficial characteristics, the wax also helps prevent paint chips due to the reduced friction between the car and anything it meets. What’s more, it keeps your car clean since you can simply wash off any dirt or bugs.
The Benefits of Carnauba Wax
The reason people swear by carnauba wax is the effect it has on the paint and the look of the car. It gives off a deep, clear, color and an impeccable mirror shine. Furthermore, since the wax has a high melting temperature, there’s no chance of the car getting damaged even on the hottest of summer days.
Since it is also resistant to UV rays, carnauba wax provides complete protection from the sun. UV rays can cause oxidation, fading, and discoloration. This means that applying a layer of wax can save you the cost of polishing or repainting your car.
As a result of carnauba wax being hydrophobic (resistant to water), the wax layer prevents any water from getting to your paint. Rainwater is full of pollutants and contaminants. Once the rain has evaporated, all that pollution stays on your car and etches into the paint. This leads to unsightly marks all over your car, which might also cost you a paint job. Luckily, the wax prevents this since the rain that meets the car does not stay on the car but rather slides off, carrying the contaminants along with it.
Another great benefit to waxing your car is that the wax fills up scratches. If you notice some shallow scratches, apply a layer of wax. It will go into the gap the scratch has left and smooth out the surface. It will not get rid of the scratches but will make them a lot less noticeable or even invisible.
To sum up, using products that contain carnauba wax is a very effective way of keeping your car looking excellent all year round. Since it provides great protection from all types of climates, UV rays and can even prevent or cover up scratches. All those benefits also come with a glossy finish worthy of any showroom. It's no wonder carnauba is used in a number of wax products.
Apart from this, it also helps protect many other day-to-day objects, as its properties are quite useful. Given that it is safe for humans, the only aspect limiting its use is its availability, but further development might solve this.