What is a Carnauba Wax?

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What is a Carnauba Wax?

Carnauba wax is a naturally occurring substance, it is secreted from the leaves of the Copernicia palm trees in the Brazilian rain forest to help shed the rain from the leaves onto the forest floor.  In its pure state it usually comes in hard yellow-brown flakes that we have refined and bleached into a white colour and mix with the purer yellow wax.  We also add perfumes and pretty colours to the car wax, because if it smells good it must be good, right?  The wax also contains carrier oils to help it spread easily over the paint and make it easier to use.  We have been refining and using carnauba wax for about 100 years so we know a lot about manufacturing and using it.


People like to use a wax on their car for a number of reasons that I will go into.

  • Ease of use
  • Wet looking shine
  • Traditionally use it

Ease of Use

Wax is easy to use, it contains oils to allow it to be spread easily over the paint, it’s a simple process, wipe on allow it to cure then wipe off.

Wet Looking Shine

The oils contained in the wax and the wax itself give a nice deep wet looking shine to automotive paint.

Traditionally Use it

Wax has been with us for years your father used it and you have always used it so if it’s not broken don’t fix it.

Why you Shouldn’t Use Wax

Some of the pros for using wax are actually cons, let’s look at some of them in a bit more detail.

The wet looking shine so prized by car care buffs is actually the oils and the wax you see.  After the paint has been polished to perfection you would have to agree that the paint is never going to be any clearer than it is then.  As the carnauba wax is naturally yellow, we refine it to a white colour, mix it with the purer yellow, add perfumes and pretty colours, then rub this opaque substance onto our nice shiny clear coat.  The wax is actually obscuring the shine/gloss from the paint as we are looking at the clear coat through an opaque wax.  It’s the carrier oil that gives the paint a wet look.

Wax does not last long depending on a number of factors, temperature, wash product used, where the car is kept and driven etc.  In the summer the wax will evaporate off in 4 – 6 weeks and need re-waxing, this is good news for the manufacturer but not good for us really, every time we touch the paint we run the risk of instilling swirls and scratches, as dust and grit particles may be blown onto the paint during the waxing and buffing process.  Especially if you are doing this outside, so the less often we touch our paint the better.

Some detailers also like to use wax as the opaque wax and oil does a great job at hiding a multitude of sins.   After the wax has evaporated off in a few weeks you will see what is underneath, swirls, holograms and scratches.  Always be wary of a detailer who wants to use this as the LSP (Last Step Product).

Lastly would you be shocked if I told you that the only thing separating a wax at several hundred pounds and one at £30 was the marketing, packaging and hype?

What should I Use?

In my mind the best thing to hit the car detailing scene in the last few years is nano ceramic coatings, more on these in my next post…..  Please email or call for a free quote today, we are a mobile detailing business and are always happy to talk about car care.

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