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Carnauba wax

Carnauba is a wax derived from the leaves of a plant native to northeastern Brazil, the carnauba palm (Copernicia prunifera). It is known as "queen of waxes"[1] 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 wax contains mainly esters of fatty acids (80-85%), fatty alcohols (10-15%), acids (3-6%) and hydrocarbons (1-3%). Specific for carnauba wax is the content of esterified fatty diols (about 20%), hydroxylated fatty acids (about 6%) and cinnamic acid (about 10%). Cinnamic acid, an antioxidant, may be hydroxylated or methoxylated.


Carnauba wax can produce a glossy finish and as such is used in automobile waxes, shoe polishes, food products such as candy corn, guitar polishes, and floor and furniture polishes, especially when mixed with beeswax. It is used as a coating on dental floss. 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.

Carnauba wax is a prominent ingredient in cosmetics formulas: lipsticks, eyeliners, mascara, eye shadows, foundations, blushers, skin care preparations, sun care preparations, etc.[citation needed]

It is the finish of choice for most briar 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.)

In foods, it is used as a formulation aid, lubricant, release agent, anticaking agent, and surface finishing agent in baked foods and mixes, chewing gum, confections, frostings, fresh fruits and juices, gravies, sauces, processed fruits and juices, soft candy, tic tacs and Altoids.

It is also used in the pharmaceutical industry as a tablet coating agent.

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

In addition, carnauba wax is used in Swedish Fish candy as an alternative to gelatin.

Suspended in a solvent, carnauba wax is available by at least one manufacturer in an aerosol version. The aerosol version is used extensively in the manufacture of semiconductor devices to break in new molds and after multiple shots of epoxy mold compound. This wax prevents the epoxy mold compound from sticking in the mold-chase and allows for release of the product from the chase once molded.

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. Semiconductor manufacturers use chunks of carnauba wax to break in new epoxy molds or to release the plunger when it sticks. Carnauba wax is compatible with epoxies and generally enhances its properties along with those of most other engineering plastics. Can be use as guitar wax.

Technical characteristics

  • INCI name is Copernicia Cerifera (carnauba) wax
  • E Number is E903.
  • melting point: 78-85 °C, among the highest of natural waxes.
  • relative density is about 0.97
  • It is among the hardest of natural waxes, being harder than concrete in its pure form.
  • It is practically insoluble in water, soluble on heating in ethyl acetate and in xylene, practically insoluble in ethyl alcohol.


  1. ^ 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, 103. ISBN 0824707494. 
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Carnauba_wax". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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