Carnauba: The Wax Which Does not Wane

January 2, 2005

Carnauba Wax, also called Brazil Wax, is a high melting hard wax. It is a plant exudate from the pores of the leaves of the Brazilian wax palm tree. It is used wherever a hard, high-polish wax is desired, such as in automobile waxes, floor wax emulsions and high quality shoe polishes. It is also used in the pharmaceutical industry as the last stage in tablet coating. Carnauba polishes to a high gloss and is therefore used as a polishing agent for candies, pills and various fruits and vegetables.

This wax forms on the fronds of the Brazilian palm tree from which it is mechanically removed. The impurities, which are dirt and pieces of the palm frond, are removed by melting and subsequent filtration or centrifugation of the product. Filtration produces the cleaner wax product which is suitable for the food and cosmetics industry, while the centrifuged material is used in the printing industry. Carnauba wax is harvested twice a year and its marketing is controlled by the Brazilian government. It is “refined” in Brazil to remove the dirt. It is then packaged in bags as wax flakes and imported into the USA.

Carnauba is easier to handle in the food industry if it is converted to a powder. This is accomplished by the utilization of Air Jet Milling (“Micronization” ) which is performed at temperatures below 45° F without the use of additives and is only possible because it is such a high melting wax. Carnauba Wax in the flakes form, entering the USA in sealed packages from Brazil, is innocuous as far as Kosher is concerned. However, a Kosher professional should be aware that in the final utilization of these flakes, non-Kosher stearates may be added. A similar situation exists with Carnauba Wax in the powder form. Thus, it also requires proper Kosher supervision.


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