What is Carnauba Wax?

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Pure Carnauba -
Harder than Concrete

Carnauba (car-NOW-ba) is a vegetable fat obtained from the leaves of a Brazilian palm tree called the “Tree of Life” (Copernica Cerifera).  Pure Carnauba, in its natural state, is harder than concrete.  One of its most interesting properties is that it swells and closes its pores when exposed to water.

Having a great affinity to water, Carnauba has the ability to retain oil and has excellent gloss properties making it applicable in many industries, including cosmetics, automotive and food.  In cosmetics, Carnauba is widely used in stick applications.  Carnauba is the hardest natural wax and has lustrous composition making it the leading choice for food coatings, pharmaceutical coatings and polishes.  Number One Grade Carnauba varies from a very pale yellow (white), through a greenish brown (yellow). Paint experts agree that Brazilian Carnauba is THE wax of choice for the best automotive finishes. 

NO-WET Waterless Concepts only uses the highest grade Brazilian Carnauba.

Being a natural plant by-product that does not react with paint, Carnauba provides a very hard barrier over your car's surface to protect against airborne contaminants such as acid rain, bugs, tar, road grime, salt, and bird droppings.  Carnauba also dramatically reduces paint oxidation by diffusing (refracting) UV and infrared radiation from the sun.

The Facts Behind Wax:

For most people, nothing finishes off a well-detailed car like a high quality finish wax, as Carnauba.  Done right, the shiny finish will instill you with the pride that comes with a job well done.

But what, exactly, is wax?  Depending on who you talk to, it's any number of things, from a specific chemical substance to a general term for anything that shines and protects a car. 

The line is blurry between polishes and waxes.  Though polishes and waxes can be similar or even identical, finishing wax may differ from a finishing polish, according to Craig Burnett, a chemist with Mother's Polishes & Waxes. 

"A true wax is simply a coating that goes on top of your surface." 

Defining the Terms:

The strict interpretation of the word wax is: the actual substance, as in carnauba wax, beeswax or paraffin.  Wax is an organic material which is solid at room temperature, melts at a fairly low point and is not a polymer, according to Dave Phillips, chemical operations manager for P&S Sales, Inc.  Waxes come in many types, including vegetable (carnauba), animal (bees), mineral petroleum (paraffin and micro-crystalline) and fossil (montan). 

Waxes have a wide range of properties, Phillips says, but in the automobile finish business, four are most often considered:

  • Hardness
  • Melting point (about 160 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Water repellence
  • Resistance to breakdown

Waxes are also often described by their consistency.  "There are several different grades of wax," Wemmer says. "There are hard waxes, like carnauba, and softer waxes.  When different waxes are used, they're often blended in products for ease of applications and hardness of finish." 

To Protect and Shine

As a general term for the final step in car detailing, after compounding and other automobile finish repair techniques, wax is any of several blends which protect a car's paint and make it shine -- whether or not the mix actually includes a wax (like carnauba). 

"Typically, when people talk about a car wax or finish product, the term wax has grown to indicate that it's the final step, "Phillips says.  "It tends to have good gloss, good durability and good polishing, but is low in the cut range so it doesn't scratch the surface.  That's what people are looking for when they're talking about a wax or finish product." 

The finishing coat on a car serves two basic purposes: 

1)  Protection -- Waxes serve as a sacrificial barrier so that acid rain, pine pitch and other contaminants attack the wax rather than the paint finish. 

"You want to use wax because you want a barrier to slough off rather than have the paint oxidize, whether it's a clear coat or a color coat that's on the top surface," Sims says. 

Waxes protect in three ways, according to Phillips. They prevent acid rain and other fallout from corroding the paint's surface.  By improving mar and slip resistance, they prevent dirt and dust from abrading the paint surface.  And they prevent oxygen from reaching the finish and oxidizing it. 

2)  Shine -- Waxes help improve the reflection of light off the car, making the finish look brighter, smoother and more attractive. 

Neither purpose is necessarily more important that the other.  In fact, some manufactures may stress looks over length of protection; other may stress how long the finish will last. 

"There is a difference in philosophy," says Vibert Kesler, president of Motorcar Valet, Inc.  "Some people want to put something on the paint that will last six months or five years.  Others want something that will slough off as a protection against environmental hazards, that you can keep putting on without building up."  Kesler says his company recommends the latter. 

Phillips says He suggests that detailers judge products by how they work, not what they say.

Durability and Frequency:

Waxes are temporary barriers against the elements.  They are expected to last about two to three months or less, depending on the formula and the level of protection and shine that the car owner desires.  Often, however, the more often a consumer gets their car waxed, the better. 

Sims says that while the wax coating may last longer than a month or two on some areas of the car, frequent waxing will ensure a car is protected. 

"The wax may last six months to a year," he says.  "But it isn't going to be uniform all over the car." Phillips agrees.  While some products may last several months, he says, car finishes will look much better and feel much better -- and provide more customer satisfaction -- if the waxes are applied more often. 

Where the motorist stores their car can affect this schedule.  A car that is garaged at both home and work, and thus spends little time exposed to the elements, will have a tendency to hold onto its wax coat longer. 

The age of the car can affect the outcome of the wax job, or the amount of time the shine lasts. 

"You're always going to have a pretty good gloss with a clear coat," Wemmer says.  "But with a high solids or acrylic enamel., the paint is always oxidizing.  The oxidization may come back fairly quick." Even top-quality clear coats need protection, however. They still face attach by acid rain, sap, bird droppings and other substances that cause harm. 

"Even the most durable paints need some sort of wax on them," Wemmer says. 

A high quality wax, such as CARNAUBA, that we use in NO-WET waterless carwash will continually rejuvenate itself as you are putting on a new coat.  NO-WET Waterless Car Wash is formulated to leave only a certain thickness of wax on the car, no matter how many "coats" you apply.  Therefore, you will never get any wax buildup and your car's paint will always be protected and retain that shine you desire.

Don't wait to give your car the protection it deserves!  
  

  
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