Carnauba wax

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Carnauba palm ( Copernicia prunifera )
Carnauba wax
Carnauba wax, partially melted

Carnauba wax ( Latin Cera Carnaubae ), also Brazilian wax or Ceara wax , comes from the leaf exudate of the carnauba palm ( Copernicia prunifera ) growing in Brazil . It is mainly used in the food and cosmetics industries, in medicines and as an ingredient in car waxes and polishes.


Carnauba wax is obtained from the leaves covered on both sides with a powdery layer of wax . This partially comes off after the leaves have dried, the rest is removed from the leaves that have been split lengthways by brushing, tapping and scraping. One leaf makes about 5 grams of carnauba wax. A fully grown palm has about 35 leaves, of which 10 to 20 leaves are harvested in one or two harvests per year. The wax is then melted and freed from the impurities that have settled and sieved off. The wax can be bleached mixed with paraffin .

You can also boil the young shoots and leaves in water and skim off the wax.

The name comes from the Brazilian-Portuguese Carnahuba and the Old Tupi karana'iwa . It was first mentioned in 1648. The wax has been used on a larger scale in Brazil since 1810. It has been in use in Europe since the middle of the 19th century, in 1846 large quantities of wax were exported from Brazil for the first time, and the first plantations were established in 1890.


Raw carnauba wax has a light yellowish, greenish to dark gray color, it is interspersed with air bubbles, it is hard, brittle, easily friable and almost tasteless. It is the hardest natural wax known. It is about the density of water; approx. 0.98 kg / l, its high melting point of 80 to 87 ° C keeps it stable even in warm rooms and in direct sunlight. Purified wax is light yellow; bleached (with fuller's earth , hydrogen peroxide ) it is almost white. White wax, on the other hand, is a mixture with ceresin . There are three types: yellow or medium yellow , fat gray and curant gray .

It is insoluble in water, soluble in ether , benzene , xylene , gasoline, chloroform , hot alcohol and hot turpentine oil , it is difficult to saponify .

Carnauba wax is indigestible and is excreted naturally when consumed (also by animals). It is considered to be harmless to health and is fragrance-free, which can be important for allergy sufferers.


Carnauba wax consists of around 85% esters of long-chain fatty acids ( wax acids ), ω - hydroxycarboxylic acids and aromatic carboxylic acids such as cinnamic acids . Fatty alcohols ( wax alcohols ) and diols are used as alcohol components . In addition, each approximately 2-3% of non-esterified diols, long-chain wax acids, as are behenic , carnaubic , cerotic , lignoceric or melissinic , wax alcohols and saturated hydrocarbons present.

It is sold under the CAS no. 8015-86-9 led.

Production and economic importance

Brazil is the only country with significant carnauba production. Most of the production is processed into powder. The Brazilian production of carnauba wax powder was around 19,000 t in 2007. Within Brazil, the main production takes place in the state of Piauí (69.3%). In second place comes the state of Ceará with 28%. The production of carnauba wax, however, was only around 3,000 t, with Ceará being the largest producer with 81.8% of production, followed by the state of Rio Grande do Norte with 16.8%.

In the semi-arid northeast of Brazil, carnauba wax is traditionally one of the most important export products. However, no intensively managed plantations have been established to date. Instead, natural carnauba stands are harvested at regular intervals ( extractivism ). On the one hand, this is due to the fact that a newly created plantation took about 20 years to deliver adequate production, so that corresponding investments are avoided. On the other hand, compared to other crops, Carnauba only delivers low revenues per hectare. However, carnauba is found in high density on poor soils and due to the relatively stable world market demand for carnauba wax, this stock has so far been sufficient to cover the demand.


Carnauba wax is often used mixed with other waxes. It is mainly used in the food and cosmetics industries as well as in medicines, among other things as:

  • natural release and coating agent for z. B. chewing gum or gummy bears ( food additive E 903). Carnauba wax has similar functions to beeswax (E 901) or shellac (E 904).
  • Preserving coating of citrus fruits
  • Polishing agent for coating , as a consistency enhancer in ointments, creams and other semi-solid medicines, as a plasticizer in plaster production
  • Consistency generator in cosmetic products ( INCI : COPERNICIA CERIFERA CERA, SYNTHETIC CARNAUBA)

Carnauba wax is also used in care products for everyday objects:

  • for the surface treatment of furniture, wooden floors, floor tiles and musical instruments
  • in car polishes and waxes
  • as a polishing agent for Bruyère -Pfeifenköpfe
  • as a component of shoe polish
  • in combination with beeswax as a didgeridoo mouthpiece
  • in varnishes

In the paint industry, micronized carnauba wax powder or carnauba dispersions (carnauba wax suspended in organic solvents or emulsified in water ) are used as surface additives in order to improve the scratch resistance and reduce the frictional resistance of the surface.

Carbon paper is made with carnauba wax. Early records were made from a wax mixture containing carnauba wax; later master recordings were recorded on a special, thick carnauba wax disc.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: carnauba wax  - explanations of meanings, word origins , synonyms, translations
  • Carnauba wax from, accessed on March 8, 2017.


Individual evidence

  1. a b James A. Duke: CRC Handbook of Alternative Cash Crops. CRC Press, 1993, ISBN 978-0-849-33620-1 , p. 197.
  2. Hans Irion: Drogisten Lexikon. Volume 2: A – K , Springer, 1955, ISBN 978-3-642-49508-3 , p. 268.
  3. ^ Fritz Ullman, Wilhelm Foerst: Encyclopedia of technical chemistry. Volume 18, 3rd edition, Urban 1967, p. 283 f.
  4. A. Rettenmeier: Textbook for Druggists. Part 2, Drug Science II, 4th edition, Rudolf Müller Publishing Company, 1955, p. 205.
  5. Pharmaceutisches Central -blatt . for 1834. Fifth year, first volume: No. 1–30 , Leopold Voss, Leipzig 1834, p. 332.
  6. ^ Ghillean Prance, Mark Nesbitt: The Cultural History of Plants. Routledge, 2005, ISBN 0-415-92746-3 , p. 340.
  7. ^ Franz Heske (ed.): Journal for World Forestry. Volume 9, J. Neumann, 1942, p. 215.
  8. Entry on carnauba wax. In: Römpp Online . Georg Thieme Verlag, accessed on March 4, 2014.
  9. Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística: Production of vegetable extraction and silviculture 2007 ( Memento of January 17, 2013 in the Internet Archive ).
  10. S. Wunder: Value determinants of plant extractivism in Brazil. Texto para discussão No. 682, Institudo de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada, 1999, ISSN  1415-4765 , pdf .
  11. Werner Baumann, Herberg-Liedtke: Paper chemicals. Volume II, Springer, 1994, ISBN 978-3-540-56269-6 , p. 514.
  12. ^ Andre Millard: America on Record: A History of Recorded Sound. Second Edition, Cambridge University Press, 2005, ISBN 978-0-521-83515-2 , pp. 45 f.
  13. ^ Charles L. Granata: Sessions with Sinatra. 1999, Chicago Review Press, 2004, ISBN 978-1-61374-281-5 (Reprint), p. 26.