Carnauba Wax

Carnauba wax, also known as palm wax or Brazil wax is a botanical product used in many industries. Sometimes called the "Queen of Wax," it has a much higher melting point than other waxes and is extremely hard. This makes it ideal for creating strong coatings for floors, automobiles, and other things that see hard wear. In addition, this wax appears in candies, polishes, varnishes, cosmetic products, and many other places. Although carnauba wax has largely been replaced by synthetics, it is still produced and used in many parts of the world.


A Brazilian tree formally named Copernicia prunifera, and otherwise known as the fan or carnauba palm, is the source for carnauba wax.  The palm has broad fan-like leaves attached to toothed stalks.  In hot, dry weather, the plant secretes wax to protect the leaves from damage. The wax is obtained by beating dry leaves to dislodge the yellowish-to-brown coating, which usually flakes off.  The wax is then refined and bleached before use. 

carnauba palms

Carnauba palms can survive extreme environments because of their protective coating, making them an excellent choice of crop for farmers working with poor soil and weather conditions.

A temperature of 172°F (78°C) is required to melt carnauba wax. It is also not readily soluble.  Carnauba wax consists of fatty acid esters (80-85%), fatty alcohols (10-16%), acids (3-6%) and hydrocarbons (1-3%).  It is around 20% esterified fatty diols, 10% methoxylated or hydroxylated cinnamic acid, and 6% hydroxylated fatty acids.  Carnauba wax has a very high melting point of 82-86 °C (180-187 °F).  It is harder than concrete and nearly insoluble in water and ethanol.  It is non-toxic and hypoallergenic. Water cannot break down a layer of this wax, and only certain solvents can, usually in combination with heat.  Carnauba wax repels water and enhances wear resistance. Eventually, hard wear will strip the wax from most surfaces, but a fresh layer can be applied. 

Build Your Own Pair
Care for Your Leather
Leather Terms
Leathersmithe History
California Tanneries
Tanning Methods

Galleries and Links
Pouches, Wallets, Bags
Belt Pouches
Commemorative Pouches
Passport Pouches
Drum-back Pouches
Calf Bracelets
Shoes & Boots