Carnauba (Brasilia) 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]
After five decades + of detailing, I've always preferred a natural warmth and depth of a carnauba. I'm a purist and simply want to see the chroma of the paint. It provides a high level of gloss, but the depth of shine is what does it for me.
Carnauba wax when applied to a surface will not adhere properly on its own, nor does it form a molecular bond, solvents and polymers are added to enable it to spread evenly to the surface. Natural waxes initially adhere by surface tension; the balance of the adherence process is that it works its way via the carrier system (solvent and / or oils) into the microscopic gaps and valleys of the paint film surface thereby creating a mechanical anchor.
Wax can be thought of as semi-solid until the solvent carrier components outgas (evaporate) these wax molecules form an egg-grate type mesh over the smaller paint molecules of the paint film surface, which gives it an optical depth. Due to this shape the reflected light becomes somewhat distorted (refraction) sometimes described as jetting (the so-called wet-look) It is a property that creates a super rich shine with incredible depth and the illusion of wetness on the surface, the better the quality and volume of refined wax the more pronounced the effect of jetting.
Carnauba wax is inherently hydroscopic when exposed to water; wax swells and closes its pores, which along with surface tension, causes `water beading'. Carnauba in today's wax formulas functions mostly as a carrier; it’s used to keep the polymers and oils on your car's surface. Only a small portion of your vehicle's shine comes from the wax itself. Carnauba is translucent at best with only minimal light reflection. It is among the hardest of natural waxes, being harder than concrete in its pure form
Typical Wax Formula
It is among the hardest of natural waxes, being harder than concrete in its pure form
• Water: 30-60%
• Petroleum and oil-based solvents: 15-40%
• Abrasives: 10-30%
• Organic and/or Inorganic (Synthetic) waxes: 0-5%
• Silicone polymer: 0-5%
• Surfactants: 1-5%
• Additives: 0-3%
• Fragrance, thickeners, etc
Significant portions (10-30%) of waxes are composed of drying oil or solvents that have a fast evaporation rate (Linseed, Turpentine or Môntan) oils are usually used with Carnauba wax. Designed as a carrier; it dissolves, carries and spreads the wax over the surface, before evaporating.
Paraffin is a stronger solvent and more volatile than turpentine oil, which means it evaporates better, thus aiding buffing. It is less lubricious though, coconut or polymer based oils or Isoamyl acetate (the so-called banana oil) which is actually a solvent along with some mild abrasive materials (Kaolin,
China Clay or Dimescous earth) ; they serve several purposes, acting as fillers, adding shine , helping to spread the wax evenly and minimize streaking, and they help to remove oxidized paint.
Take a look at the formulas on the Dow Corning site to get some idea of the amount of possible ingredients that can be used in a wax and these are just from one supplier - http://www.dowcorning.com//ch...to/default.asp
• CI name is Copernicia Cerifera (carnauba) wax
• E Number is E903.
• Relative density is about 0.97
• Carnauba Wax is a hard, brittle non-tacky and lustrous wax.
• Melting point: 180–187. °F (82–86. °C, among the highest of natural waxes.
• Flash Point: 570.0F Min.
• Specific Gravity at 25.0C: 0.9996-0.9998
• Acid Number: 2-10
• Iodine Number: 7-14
• Unsaponifiable Matter %: 50-55
• Refractive Index: 1.4540
• Resin Content %: 4 to 6
Paste waxes are heated in a steam jacketed kettle with the liquid wax being sent under pressure to a filling machine. The wax containers are filled and then go down an assembly line through a cooling tunnel, the temperature of the wax mast be maintained at 40.OF from the beginning to the end of the pouring or it loses its consistency becoming too soft, it does not like forced cooling.
Carnauba in today's wax formulas functions mostly as a carrier. It is the vehicle used to keep the polymers and oils on your car's surface. Only a small portion of your vehicle's shine comes from the "wax" (i.e. carnauba) itself. Carnauba is translucent at best with only minimal light reflection.
Marketing propagates the myth that increasing the Carnauba content of a wax will make the wax "better". This is marginally true at best. Increasing the Carnauba content up to a point (30 to 37%), will increase the waxes durability but will not affect the shine. If the Carnauba content is too high (40% or more), the result is a rock-hard, wax brick. You simply would not be able to apply it to a vehicle. Be wary of manufacturers that claim high (40 %+) wax contents. They are either fabrications or they include softer, cheaper waxes (beeswax, palm wax, paraffin) in their formula.
The majority of products in the marketplace contain a combination of one or more waxes, silicone fluids, and other polymers.
1. Waxes are natural substances (animal or vegetable) or synthetic materials solid at ambient temperature (20.OC.-25.OC.). They are insoluble in water, soluble in oils and are capable of forming a water repellent film. These include Carnauba wax (extract of Copemrica Cerifera), Candelilla wax (extract of Euphobies Cerifera and Pedilantus pavonis), and Alfa wax (extract of Stipa tenacissima), Montan wax, polyethylene wax, paraffin wax, oxidized paraffin wax, ozokerite, vegetable waxes such as olive tree wax, rice wax, hydrogenated jojoba wax or absolute waxes of flowers such as the essential wax of cassis flower; animal waxes such as beeswax, or modified beeswax (cerabellina).
2. Silicone oils also referred to as dimehtyl fluids are generally straight chain poly-dimethy siloxane fluids ranging in viscosity from 0.65 to 100,000 centipoises. The typical ones used in wax or sealants formulations however are between 350 to 10,000 centipoises viscosity. These have no reactivity and help with application or initial gloss.
There are some modifications to improve characteristics of these oils by adding certain groups for instance aryl groups improve fire resistance and larger alkyl groups make silicone fluids body-shop safe. Some manufacturer’s use these modified silicone fluids only to claim that the product does not contain silicone oils.
3. Sealants in general refer to amino-functional polymer silicone oils or resins. An amino-functional polysiloxane contains highly polar pendant aminoalkyl modifying groups that enhance the durability of films formed by polysiloxanes, and promote adhesion of films to a variety of substrates. These include reactive and non-reactive, hydrolyzable and non-hydrolyzable derivatives.
There are two main types of wax; Organic (Natural) and Non-Organic (Synthetic)
The word "wax" usually refers to a variety of organic (natural) substances that are solid at ambient temperature but become somewhat free-flowing liquids at slightly higher temperatures. The chemical composition of waxes is complex, but normal alkenes are always present in high proportion, and molecular weight profiles tend to be very varied.
The main commercial source of non-organic (synthetic) wax is crude petroleum, but not all crude oil
refiners produce wax. Mineral wax can also be produced from lignite, plants, animals and even insects produce materials sold in commerce as wax.
There is normally no more than 15% to 20% natural wax content in retail car care wax, some products also contain a high percentage of Diatomaceous earth or China clay, this helps to provide shine by its sleight abrading ability and is evidenced by the large amount of powder residue left on the car by some products when the wax carrier system evaporates.
Organic Wax - Carnauba (Brasilia) Wax: is an organic (containing carbons) or natural product, a vegetable wax (fat) wax derived from the fronds of the carnauba palm, Copernicia prunifera, a plant native to and grown only in the north-eastern Brazilian states of Piauí, Ceará, and Rio Grande do Norte. It is known as "queen of waxes” and usually comes in the form of hard yellow-brown flakes. It is obtained from the fronds of the carnauba palm by collecting them, beating them to loosen the wax, then refining the wax.
Non-Organic Wax- these synthetic waxes are formulated with polymers, which are more durable than organic waxes. Synthetic waxes commonly mix low amounts of solvents cleaners with high amounts of U.V. inhibitors to create the same protective layer that carnauba do. Synthetic wax creates a high gloss while carnauba waxes give a warm and wet looking finish
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze (i.e., increase the rates of) chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates sufficient for life. Since enzymes are selective for their substrates and speed up only a few reactions from among many possibilities, the set of enzymes made in a cell determines which metabolic pathways occur in that cell.
Like all catalysts, enzymes work by lowering the activation energy for a reaction, thus dramatically increasing the rate of the reaction. As a result, products are formed faster and reactions reach their equilibrium state more rapidly. Most enzyme reaction rates are millions of times faster than those of comparable un-catalyzed reactions. As with all catalysts, enzymes are not consumed by the reactions they catalyze, nor do they alter the equilibrium of these reactions.
Liquid or Paste Wax
Wax consistency is formulated to suit different application methods; i.e. hand (literally) or foam applicator, the finished ‘look’ will be the same for either method.
Either way it’s important to apply a consistent thin layer, which may be more difficult with hand application. A machine application will provide a thin even coating as the pressure maintained on the foam is constant. The liquid application is more popular among users because it is considerably easier to work with
This is personal preference. Both will give you very similar shine and protection, there is a direct correlation between difficulty of job and durability.
The hard paste is considerably harder to work with, whereas a ‘soft’ paste wax is considerably easier, but the protection in terms of length of durability is superior. Liquid wax due to its higher solvent and / or polymer content has a more reflective (wetter) look than hard wax, whereas a hard wax is slightly more durable due to its higher wax content
They differ basically in the amount of solvents, oils and etc. Carnauba is diluted with solvents, when you apply a paste wax, the friction (heat) helps melt the wax and evaporate the solvents. A liquid wax usually contains more volatile solvents that evaporate out when the wax is applied. The excess wax, left over lubricants, excess bonding agents, solvent residues and whatever else is left forms the "haze" that is buffed out to reveal the wax.
For a layered shine apply a paste wax and then allow hardening, and then apply a coating of liquid wax. A caveat here is to ensure you do not use too much pressure or friction abrasion with the liquid wax as the solvents will remove a percentage of the paste wax
A word of caution: layering a wax may only slightly increase its thickness, but may well increase its density, which may make it opaque, negating both depth of shine and clarity
Most car care product chemists agree that when it comes to a wax formulation there is no advantage between pastes, creams or liquids. It has more to do with production cost and marketing than; its protection or surface gloss abilities. Liquid or cream type waxes are easier to apply, although removal is about the same. /paste wax is just a thicker form of liquid wax. Just a different consistency, not necessarily even more or less solvents as some wax products use an emulsion to keep more liquid without adding solvents, which, in high concentrations could remove the underlying wax.
The only ingredients that will make a difference are wax quality and its percentage content, and the carrier system (i.e. type of solvent / silicone and / or mineral or natural oils used)
When making a comparison ensure you compare like with like (i.e. % volume or % weight) as some Carnauba percentages refer to % of Carnauba as a proportion of wax content only ( i.e. 70% carnauba, 30% beeswax). Wax in itself will not produce a gloss or shine; wax is a dull substance that provides protection, and will not produce gloss without the addition of an additive (oils, silicones, etc) which will produce a reflective gloss, jetting (the so called ‘wet-look) or depth.
Carnauba (Brasilia Carnauba) is a vegetable wax (fat) wax derived from the fronds of the carnauba palm, Copernicia prunifera, a plant native to and grown only in the north-eastern Brazilian states of Piauí, Ceará, and Rio Grande do Norte. It is known as "queen of waxes” and usually comes in the form of hard yellow-brown flakes. It is obtained from the fronds of the carnauba palm by collecting them, beating them to loosen the wax, then refining the wax.
This (Copernicia prunifera) Arecaceae palm grows in the northern and north-eastern parts of Brazil along the riverbanks, valleys, and lagoons where the soil is dark and fertile. The tree needs very little water to grow, is very prolific and attains a height 40-50 feet after fifty years.
It has an affinity to water, the ability to retain oil and when refined, making it applicable in a vast variety of industries. Carnauba is the hardest natural wax and has lustrous composition making it the leading choice for food coatings, pharmaceutical coatings and polishes.
The International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) name is Copernicia Cerifera. Carnauba wax appears as an ingredient in many cosmetics formulas where it is used to thicken lipstick, eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow, foundation, deodorant, various skin care preparations, sun care preparations, etc
Carnauba wax grades
There are various grades available (#1 Yellow and Yellow) the pale yellow wax (sometimes termed Ivory) has the highest clarity (very transparent) and is the highest grade of carnauba available, much sought after by concourse d’élégance entrants A natural White Carnauba wax does not exist; this is just a marketing play on words to denote ‘purity’. Be cognizant that synthetic Carnauba is the closest to the white(ish) colour. In addition to colour, Carnauba wax is also graded according to the area of its origin—Parnahyba, Piaui, Ceara, and Bahai.
#1 Grade ‘White’ Carnauba
Varies from a very pale yellow (so called ‘white/ivory’), through a greenish brown (yellow). It is the world’s purest and hardest natural wax repellent derived from the Brazilian palm Copernia prunifera, this wax coats the fronds and is hydrophobic; it forms a barrier that is a natural deterrent from acid rain, airborne pollutants and acidic bird excrement. Its colour is determined by the ages of the leaves when harvested, and ranges from pale yellow (new, unopened leaves) to a greenish brown (older leaves exposed to sun and weather).
White carnauba does not exist, however natural and synthetic carnauba can be modified/made to look whiter. However another source is by using synthetic carnauba, which is a carnauba that is close to a pale white colour. White carnauba can be produced by using quantities of bleach, although I would question what could be gained by doing so.
Yellow Grade Carnauba
During the blending process, as the wax is melted to a liquid, additional oils are added, which "wet" the surface. This gives the finish the ‘jetting’ look (liquidity)
Paint Polishes and Protective Coatings
• Compound – an aggressive grade of polish used to remove deeper scratches and for paint renovation
• Polish – an abrasive compound that removes impurities provides shine and prepares it for a wax or sealant protection.
• Paint Cleaner – contains a very mild polishing agent (i.e. Kaolin (China clay) or Diatomaceous earth ) that is used to clean a paint surface and provide protection, but they will not remove ingrained surface scratches
• Glaze – used by detailers for show car to obtain maximum light reflection by darkening the paint surface colour. They produce a “wet" look to the surface with oils to maximize surface gloss and may contain fillers (Kaolin or China clay) to hide minor defects not removed by polishing or for use when the paint is thin and you don't want to remove any more, even if it is microns. They will provide little if any surface protection.
• Wax – an organic or synthetic protective coating that is applied to the exterior surface of an automobile to improve shine and prevent oxidation
• Sealant – a polymer sealant comprises an open linked molecule, which forms a bond with the paint, this is the main reason for their durability; these open linked polymer molecules join together to create an elongated mesh like effect that reflects light efficiently due to their inherent flat surface.
Because they are usually very transparent they transmit the surface colour faithfully, but they have very little depth resulting in what is perceived as a very bright, flat silver glow
Carnauba wax molecules, which are closed linked, which means that they only butt up together to protect the surface. They align themselves to form an egg-grate type structure (with their long axis vertical) this is what gives it depth. Polymer sealants comprises an open linked molecule that form a chain-link mesh that produces a flat and very reflective surface resulting in a flat silver glow, but has no depth.
Acrylic paints are small, very dense molecule system; the carrier system (solvents) allows the dense molecule to spread and cross-link forming a hard protective surface. The paint molecules are of a uniform size and therefore reflect the surface it covers with very little optical distortion, adding little if any depth of shine to the paints colour.
Glaze is a term that's frequently misused in detailing products. Glazes are paint treatments used to fill small surface scratches and swirl marks, as they don’t usually contain any abrasives and are used solely for aesthetic purposes, they offer no surface protection and are usually used in conjunction with an organic wax.
Although some product manufactures describe their waxes as a ‘glaze’. To a painter, glaze is the term used to describe the process of restoring full paint gloss.
It is a used by detailers for show car to obtain maximum light reflection as they add depth by darkening the paint surface colour. They produce a “wet" look to the surface with oils to maximize surface gloss and may contain fillers (Kaolin or China clay) to hide minor defects not removed by polishing. Glaze may help to hide any spider webbing inherent to fibreglass, which is not removable with an abrasive polish or compound.
They will provide little if any surface protection. There are two types of glazes; wax/oil based and polymer-based, an oil / wax based glaze can only be used under a carnauba wax, as a polymer sealant will not bond. They are also used when a clear coat could be compromised by further abrasive polishing if there is insufficient paint film thickness remaining, the ‘fillers’ will hide most surface imperfections. Glazing is done after polishing but before applying the final wax or sealant
Basic Cleaning Requirements
As with all detailing tasks; surface preparation is the most important step to achieving e a flawless finish. The final result can only be as good as the surface it’s applied to; so surface preparation is of paramount importance. Products will properly bond to a substrate and that will ensure it works correctly, and has both durability and desired aesthetics
Three types of energy are required;
• Chemical energy- provided by the synthetic cleaner
• Kinetic (abrasion) energy provided by machine or hand
• Thermal energy -provided by warm or hot water
Use a high-quality cleaner, formulated without strong solvents and one that has a pH value between 4 and 10 (neither strongly acidic nor strongly alkaline).
Make sure the paint surface is cool; if you can hold your hand comfortably on the paint, then it is cool enough to wax Prior to the polishing process; you’ll need to remove the old paint protection and any oxidation first so you can get down to the bare paint where these contaminants have attached themselves, the paint should already be washed and clayed for maximum results, then using a chemical paint surface cleaner as any dirt and or oxidation on the paint can interfere with the polish.
If the paint surface is heavily contaminated (Industrial fall-out, Metallic Brake dust, Rust Blooms or Oxidation) it may require a decontamination process (See Paint Decontamination article) The paint surface should be as clean as possible, this will ensure that nothing comes between the wax and the surface to interfere with surface adhesion and the application pads will not get clogged with surface debris.
a) Polymer sealants will not form a proper monocular bond with a paint surface if there are any oils or moisture present and it will affect durability.
b) Silicone will cause surface smearing and will also affect durability
Are available in both abrasive and non-abrasive formulations:-
Swissvax Cleaner Fluid Strong is an advanced diminishing abrasive pre-war treatment designed to be used on heavily weathered paint and finishes with medium to heavy signs of use. Apply by using long strokes and firm pressure.
Swissvax Cleaner Fluid Regular is an advanced non-abrasive paint preparation solution containing mild chemical cleaning agents and heavy glazing oils that fill and mask minor paint defects and are simply unrivalled in terms of producing a perfect oil-rich surface ready for Swissvax wax protection.
Paint Surface Cleaning
Vehicle manufacturer studies have shown that failure to remove environmental contaminants, like imbedded rail dust, acid rain, industrial fallout and other environmental contaminants from a paint film can cause premature degradation of the paint system and will negatively affect the paint protection products durability.
There are two distinct types of paint cleaner; Abrasive and Chemical (solvent or acid)
a) Abrasive - Detailer’s clay Automotive clay is not a replacement for polish or a compound; it is a pliable, petroleum resin product, containing a mild abrasive(s) i.e. kaolin, silica sand, calcium carbonate, alumina, ceramics quartz and also silicon carbide that polishes and exfoliates bonded surface contaminants and will remove a large percentage of wax or sealant.
Detailer’s clay will remove most but not all of the iron particulate that is the cause of the rust "blooming", to for a corrosion decontamination system to be effective requires the complete removal of all particulates and the corrosive acids they generate that have penetrated the paint surface system.
These abrasives are extremely small with an average particle size of 1- µ (micron) dependent on the aggressiveness required, mixed in with a powdered synthetic detergent.
The abrasives 'shear' the surface contaminates, the sheared particles are then encapsulated by the clay (i.e. the top of the metallic particle leaving the rest embedded in the paint, which acts as a conduit for moisture to the various paint layers, allowing it to continue generating corrosion damage)
While clay products are useful for overspray and cleaning surface contaminants, it cannot permeate and deep clean the pores of the paint. (See also Decontamination and acid Neutralization)
Zaino Z-PC Fusion Dual Action Paint Cleaner - a water-based formula with tri-particulate, diminishing abrasive system (no fillers or oils) which allows you to use the oxidation you're removing as an abrasive that removes minor scratches, swirls, oxidation, wax build-up and other surface blemishes
b) Chemical (solvent) – pre-wax chemical cleaners that are formulated with solvents and / or very fine abrasives (Kaolin or China Clay) to remove old wax, embedded dirt and light stains from paint; they help to restore gloss and remove light surface imperfection (oxidation, paint stains, marks left from bird excrement, water ‘spots’, and etc). Use to prepare the paint surface to ensure a pristine surface clear of oils that will negatively impact the durability of an applied wax r polymer. They are designed to be used as often as required without measurably reducing paint thickness, unlike an abrasive polish.
P21S Paintwork Cleanse, a gloss-enhancing chemical cleanser that contains fillers (Kaolin or China clay) will remove old wax, light swirls and oxidation. It can be applied by hand or with an orbital polisher. Paint cleaners are designed to remove old wax, oxidation, embedded dirt and light stains from your paint surface. They can remove micro-marring of the surface (i.e. light towel marks) but typically will not remove imperfections that require levelling the clear coat, but can remove some oxidation and mineral deposits.
Chemical solvents paint cleaners are good to use if you want to prep the paint surface prior to applying a wax (without polishing). My preference would be to use an IPA or DuPont’s PrepSol as they don’t leave any (silicone / mineral) oils or etc behind, as these can cause problems when polishing if they are not removed
c) Chemical (acid) - decontamination and acid neutralization system, ValuGard is the most recognized and one of the few OEM approved chemical neutralization system in the industry. While clay and chemical cleaners are useful for cleaning the paint surface they cannot deep clean the pores of the paint, or neutralize rust spots. This can be accomplished with a chemical cleaning acid and neutralization system.
Schedule: every three or four months (dependent upon environmental conditions and vehicle exposure) more often on light colour paint. To optimize the reflective properties and appearance of the paint surface, it is best to regularly remove both embedded and surface contaminants and dirt.
A Carnauba wax contains a limited amount of polymer, this is used to both increase shine and help to form a molecular bond with the urethane paint. So it is important to provide as ‘clean’ a surface as possible, this can be accomplished by washing the surface and using detailer’s clay to remove surface contaminants and/or using a chemical paint cleaner. This will ensure its durability, which can be augmented by occasionally using a spray wax
Making of a Good Wax
[ In Canada and the United States at every major library you can find a selection of Formulary books. The best is H. Bennett Formulary series. They cover 90 years of making all kinds of things from ski wax to shoe polish and lipstick to hair shampoo. That series of books is the best information anyone could ever get about chemicals and how to use them to achieve a great product.
[It took us to the 1920's and 30’s, which was the last time large quantities of real waxes were used in formulas. Next came the 40's and 50's with crude silicones and cruder polymers beginning to appear in our research of formulas. Then the 60's thru 90's marketing took over and it had nothing to do with the truth or what was really in the products. At that time there was nothing more discerning to a car enthusiast who had faithfully used a product for many years and then an old friend makes a comment about the finish not looking as good as it use to.] David Wyliss
I would like to think that these articles become an asset to anyone who is new to detailing and to professionals alike, as well as industry experts who seek to advance their knowledge.
I hope the above article was informative. By having some understanding of the ‘What’ and ‘Why’ as well as the ‘How’ along with a little science to help you understand how the chemicals we use react, you can achieve the results you desire.
I would appreciate it if you would share this article as it helps other detailers further their knowledge.
Questions and/ or constructive comments are always appreciated.
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