Carnauba wax

Carnauba wax
Carnauba wax

Carnauba (English pronunciation: /kɑːrˈnɔːbə/ or /kɑːrˈnaʊbə/), also called Brazil wax and palm wax, is a wax of the leaves of the palm Copernicia prunifera, a plant native to and grown only in the northeastern Brazilian states of Piauí, Ceará, and Rio Grande do Norte.[1] It is known as "queen of waxes"[2] and usually comes in the form of hard yellow-brown flakes. It is obtained from the leaves of the carnauba palm by collecting them, beating them to loosen the wax, then refining and bleaching the wax.



Carnauba palm

Carnauba consists mostly of aliphatic esters (40 wt%), diesters of 4-hydroxycinnamic acid (21.0 wt%), ω-hydroxycarboxylic acids (13.0 wt%), and fatty acid alcohols (12 wt%). The compounds are predominantly derived from acids and alcohols in the C26-C30 range. Distinctive for carnauba wax is the high content of diesters as well as methoxycinnamic acid.[3]

Carnauba wax is sold in several grades, labeled T1, T2, and T4, depending on the purity level. Purification is accomplished by filtration, centrifugation, and bleaching.

Sweets coated with carnauba wax

Carnauba wax can produce a glossy finish and as such is used in automobile waxes, shoe polishes, dental floss, food products such as sweets, instrument polishes, and floor and furniture waxes and polishes, especially when mixed with beeswax and with turpentine. Use for paper coatings is the most common application in the United States. It is the main ingredient in surfboard wax, combined with coconut oil.

Because of its hypoallergenic and emollient properties as well as its shine, carnauba wax appears as an ingredient in many cosmetics formulas where it is used to thicken lipstick, eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow, foundation, deodorant, various skin care preparations, sun care preparations, etc.[citation needed] It is also used to make cutler's resin.

It is the finish of choice for most briar tobacco or smoking pipes. It produces a high gloss finish when buffed on to wood. This finish dulls with time rather than flaking off (as is the case with most other finishes used).

Although too brittle to be used by itself, carnauba wax is often combined with other waxes (principally beeswax) to treat and waterproof many leather products where it provides a high-gloss finish and increases leather's hardness and durability.

It is also used in the pharmaceutical industry as a tablet-coating agent. Adding the carnuaba wax aids in the swallowing of tablets for patients. A very small amount (less than a hundredth of 1 percent by weight. i.e.: 30 grams for a 300 kg batch) is sprinkled onto a batch of tablets after they've been sprayed and dried. The wax and tablets are then tumbled together for a few minutes before being discharged from the tablet-coating machine.

In 1890, Charles Tainter patented the use of carnauba wax on phonograph cylinders as a replacement for a mixture of paraffin and beeswax.

An aerosol mold release is formed by suspending carnauba wax in a solvent. This aerosol version is used extensively in molds for semiconductor devices. Semiconductor manufacturers also use chunks of carnauba wax to break in new epoxy molds or to release the plunger when it sticks. When used as a mold release, carnauba, unlike silicone or PTFE, is suitable for use with liquid epoxy, epoxy molding compounds (EMC), and some other plastic types. Carnauba wax is compatible with epoxies and generally enhances their properties along with those of most other engineering plastics[citation needed].

Carnauba is used in melt/castable explosives to produce an insensitive explosive formula such as Composition B, which is a blend of RDX and TNT.

Technical characteristics

  • INCI name is Copernicia Cerifera (carnauba) wax
  • E Number is E903.
  • Melting point: 82–86 °C (180–187 °F), among the highest of natural waxes,higher than shellac wax or beeswax.
  • Relative density is about 0.97
  • It is among the hardest of natural waxes .
  • It is practically insoluble in water, soluble on heating in ethyl acetate and in xylene, practically insoluble in ethyl alcohol.


  1. ^ Steinle, J. Vernon (September 1936). "Carnauba wax: an expedition to its source". Industrial & Engineering Chemistry 28 (9): 1004–1008. doi:10.1021/ie50321a003. 
  2. ^ Parish, Edward J.; Terrence L. Boos; Shengrong Li (2002). "The Chemistry of Waxes and Sterols". In Casimir C. Akoh, David B. Min.. Food lipids: chemistry, nutrition, and biochemistry (2nd ed.). New York: M. Dekker. p. 103. ISBN 0824707494. 
  3. ^ Uwe Wolfmeier,Hans Schmidt, Franz-Leo Heinrichs, Georg Michalczyk, Wolfgang Payer,Wolfram Dietsche, Klaus Boehlke, Gerd Hohner, Josef Wildgruber "Waxes" in Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, 2002. doi:10.1002/14356007.a28_103.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • carnauba wax — Very hard wax obtained from fronds of the carnauba tree, Copernicia cerifera, a fan palm of Brazil. During the regular dry seasons in Brazil, where it is called the tree of life, the carnauba palm protects its fanlike fronds from loss of moisture …   Universalium

  • carnauba wax — noun hard yellowish to brownish wax from leaves of the carnauba palm used especially in floor waxes and polishes • Syn: ↑carnauba • Hypernyms: ↑wax • Substance Holonyms: ↑carnauba, ↑carnauba palm, ↑wax palm, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • carnauba wax — karnaubo vaškas statusas T sritis chemija apibrėžtis Iš vaškinės kopernicijos (Copernicia cerifera) lapų gaminamas vaškas. atitikmenys: angl. Brazil wax; carnauba wax rus. карнаубский воск …   Chemijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • carnauba-wax palm — vaškinė kopernicija statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Arekinių šeimos vaistinis augalas (Copernicia prunifera), paplitęs Pietų Amerikoje. Iš jo gaunamas vaškas. atitikmenys: lot. Copernicia prunifera angl. carnauba palm; carnauba wax palm;… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • carnauba wax — noun Date: 1854 a hard brittle high melting wax obtained from the leaves of the carnauba palm and used chiefly in polishes …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • carnauba wax — noun A yellow brown wax obtained from the leaves of the Brazilian carnauba palm (Copernicia prunifera); used in cosmetics, polishes etc. Syn: E903, glazing agent …   Wiktionary

  • carnauba wax — [NF] a wax obtained from the leaves of the palm Copernicia cerifera, used as a tablet coating agent …   Medical dictionary

  • wax palm — noun 1. South American palm yielding a wax similar to carnauba wax • Syn: ↑caranday, ↑caranda, ↑caranda palm, ↑Copernicia australis, ↑Copernicia alba • Hypernyms: ↑fan palm • …   Useful english dictionary

  • Wax — For other uses, see Wax (disambiguation). Cetyl palmitate, a typical wax ester …   Wikipedia

  • wax — wax1 waxable, adj. waxlike, adj. /waks/, n. 1. Also called beeswax. a solid, yellowish, nonglycerine substance allied to fats and oils, secreted by bees, plastic when warm and melting at about 145°F, variously employed in making candles, models,… …   Universalium

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