carnauba waxReduce damage to wood furnishings painted with Real Milk Paint by finishing them with carnauba (car·nau·ba) wax products from the Real Milk Paint Co. The hardest natural wax, nontoxic and hypoallergenic, plant-based carnauba wax protects numerous surfaces and serves as a useful additive in a plethora of products since most people aren’t sensitive to it. Use this carnauba wax guide to learn just what makes this carnauba palm tree derivative the Queen of the Natural Waxes and why it’s so sought after in so many diverse industries.

What Is Carnauba Wax?

Also called Brazil wax and palm wax, carnauba wax derives from the leaves of the Copernicia prunifera palm tree, which only grows in northern Brazil. Workers harvest this natural form of wax by beating it off dried carnauba palm fronds, and they then refine and bleach the yellow wax they obtain from the process for use. No synthetic version of or natural alternatives for this vegan-friendly wax exist, making it a valuable natural resource with a plethora of practical uses.

What Are the Benefits of Carnauba Wax?

Several factors go into the assertion that carnauba wax is the Queen of the Natural Waxes. The high melting point makes it ideal for protecting objects exposed to high amounts of heat or sunshine, as does the extreme hardness of this flaky substance. Nontoxic and hypoallergenic for fuss-free use by most people, carnauba wax is virtually insoluble in ethanol and water for a durable finish. Additionally, natural carnauba-based wax polishes to a high gloss for attractive results in numerous projects.

What Are the Uses for Carnauba Wax?

Uses for carnauba wax abound in everything from cosmetics, car wax and coating for dental floss to semiconductor device molds, shoe polishes and floor and furniture waxes. In each of these industries, carnauba wax is used for very specific purposes that imbue products with special qualities. Additionally, carnauba wax is used as an alternative to petroleum distillates and synthetic products in many industries to make some substances safer and more eco-friendly.

Wood Finishing Uses

Carnauba palm wax offers a variety of uses in wood finishing thanks to its natural protective properties. The high melting temperature makes carnauba wax hard so that a thin layer remains behind when you buff it on furnishings, protecting the surface while boosting the shine quotient or sheen. It is a favorite finish among wood turners for it’s easy application and potential for high sheen. Additionally, this coating blends well with natural oils and other waxes for custom furniture wax and polish formulations, and it also works on diverse surfaces from bare to painted wood for added diversity in DIY woodworking projects.

Automotive Industry Uses

One of the most common uses for carnauba wax is in car wax formulations due to its UV rays resistance and high melting temperature. The automotive industry relies on carnauba-based car waxes to add a high-gloss finish to fresh paint jobs and revive old colors with a little elbow grease. Vintage show car enthusiasts in particular appreciate the simplicity and effectiveness of a detailing routine that includes carnauba-based offerings from car wax manufacturers.

Beauty Industry Uses

Frequently used in beauty and skincare products, carnauba-based wax works with thickening agents like beeswax and cocoa butter to add texture and hardness. The high melting temperature that makes carnauba wax hard also lends solidity plus pliability to products like lipstick that require a glossy finish and a smooth, easy application. Additionally, carnauba wax imbues a thin layer of protection to skin and hair with its emollient properties and works well for most people due to its hypoallergenic nature.

Food Products Uses

While it might seem odd that carnauba wax has uses in food products, the nontoxic material is safe for human consumption in small amounts and is hypoallergenic for added peace of mind. Carnauba wax serves mostly as a glazing agent when used as a food additive. This means the palm wax adds a high sheen to candy coatings and also helps prevent them from melting. In vegan-friendly fruit snacks like gummies, this natural wax is often used in place of gelatin to stabilize the recipe and add an appealing texture.

Pharmaceutical Industry Uses

Carnauba wax not only helps you protect furniture, shine up your car, hydrate your skin and glaze your food, it also helps your medicine go down smoother. Used to coat and bind tablets in the pharmaceutical industry, nontoxic carnauba wax consists mainly of fatty acid esters that make tablets of all sizes and shapes easier to swallow.

What Is the Very Best Carnauba Wax for Wood?

The very best carnauba wax for wood depends on the project you have in mind. Rarely used on its own due to its brittle stand-alone nature, carnauba wax is most often added to wood and furniture waxes to enhance their hardness, strength and shine. Different types of carnauba wax combinations protect different types of surfaces and imbue diverse levels of protection. For example, the following products from the Real Milk Paint Co. all contain carnauba wax, but each serves a different purpose in woodworking projects.

wood wax

Wood Wax

Wood Wax from the Real Milk Paint Co. combines carnauba wax with walnut oil for an all-natural finish that’s safe for food contact. Suitable for use on raw wooden bowls and utensils, cutting boards and butcher blocks, this plant-based wood wax contains no solvents, mineral oil or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) for peace of mind while using objects you protect with it. This vegan finishing product helps you add a green element to your woodworking projects and works well for maintaining surfaces you already finished with Wood Wax.

Clear Carnauba Wax Paste

Clear Carnauba Wax Paste provides a reliable protective layer on surfaces you’ve covered with Real Milk Paint. Made from carnauba wax, beeswax, candelilla wax and odorless isoparaffinic hydrocarbon, this natural wax delivers high sheen without becoming sticky or tacky for practical use on commonly used furnishings or flooring. This softer finish resists initial moisture contact on furniture and provides added strength against wear and tear when reapplied at regular intervals. Each container of our Clear Carnauba Wax Paste covers 150 square feet for easy project planning.

carnauba wax flakes

Carnauba Wax Flakes

Carnauba Wax Flakes make a great choice when you want to create your own wax blend. Though the high melting temperature makes this flaky substance inappropriate for stand-alone use, it mixes well with beeswax or paraffin and your choice of essential oils if you want to add a personalized fragrance. Additionally, you can use tinting drops to change the hue to perfectly match your project. Some woodworkers also use carnauba wax flakes to strengthen the finish and elevate the shine and gloss of softer wood waxes.

Zero VOC Wax

If you’re looking for a wax that has a tint, yet still boasts being VOC free, then our Zero VOC Wax are right for you. Made similar to Wood Wax, these waxes come in Warm Black and Chestnut Brown tints that will enhance any wood while offering protection.

Soft Wax

Primarily beeswax with a touch of carnauba wax composes Soft Wax from the Real Milk Paint Co. This furniture finishing formulation works well for refinishing project pieces or adding a top coat to previously painted surfaces. No harsh solvents mean Soft Wax has a pleasant smell, and it comes in clear, gray, white, ebony and dark brown for complete color control on your DIY piece. Long working times help you coat large surfaces evenly, and this wax doesn’t turn white when settle in large cracks and crevices for added peace of mind. The matte sheen Soft Wax adds to surfaces remains hard over time for excellent wood protection.

What Are the Benefits of Carnauba Wax on Wood?

The fruit of the carnauba palm tree confers numerous benefits when used as a wood wax. Since this flaky substance is hard and durable, it helps protect furnishings, whether you add it to raw wood or apply it to already finished or painted surfaces. The high-gloss finish lends an attractive look to furnishings and when blended with other natural oils and waxes helps balance out the brittleness of stand-alone carnauba wax to create a pliable surface that endures.

How Does Carnauba Wax Compare With Other Plant-Based Waxes?

Palm wax is considered the Queen of the Natural Waxes, but that doesn’t mean the other waxes in the plant-based wax family are slouches when it comes to projects. In fact, these coating elements often work beautifully together in furniture waxes to add their own unique touches and properties to woodworking crafts and furnishings you wish to restore.

Soy Wax

Though soy wax is extracted from soybean oil, this plant-based wax isn’t always necessarily food-safe due to some manufacturers mixing in hardness- and durability-boosting additives. Soy wax offers a semi-gloss sheen to wood and goes on smoothly thanks to its soft texture. Unfortunately, you get ease of application at the cost of endurance, as soy wax requires frequent application. Though decent for use in furniture waxes, renewable soy wax works much better in candle making, where it replaces paraffin wax made with petroleum distillates.

Jojoba Wax

On its own, jojoba wax doesn’t prove to be a very durable wax. When combined with other natural waxes, however, this plant-based wax literally shines. The same elements that help it deeply hydrate skin when used in beauty and skincare products makes jojoba wax an ideal addition to formulations that need to penetrate deeply into wood pores. For that reason, jojoba wax makes a nice addition to oils and waxes designed for food-contact and food-preparation surfaces like cutting boards, butcher blocks and wooden bowls and utensils.

Candelilla Wax

Derived from the small leaves of candelilla shrubs, candelilla wax is harvested from plants native to the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico by submerging them entirely in acidified boiling water. Workers then collect the candelilla wax that rises to the boiling water’s surface. Many wax manufacturers blend candelilla wax with other waxes for hardness that doesn’t raise the melting temperature. One such example is Good Ol’ Brown Wax from the Real Milk Paint Co. This all-natural wax combines candelilla wax with carnauba wax and beeswax, creating a smooth texture with a soft brown color ideal for restoring and maintaining older furniture with nicks and scratches.

Rice Bran Wax

Rice bran wax offers a nondrying way to finish wood surfaces, and it doesn’t go rancid like other food-based oils such as coconut, olive and vegetable oil. Though this wax typically goes on smoothly for simple application, it doesn’t harden in the wood pores or add much protection on its own. Combined with other waxes, however, rice bran wax shines by keeping surfaces hydrated and preventing other components of the formulation from going rancid. For example, Cutting Board Oil by the Real Milk Paint Co. combines rice bran wax with palm-fruit oil, refined almond oil, and hemp floral wax for a low-luster finish that protects your favorite serving and charcuterie boards.

How Do You Finish Wood With Carnauba Wax?

Finishing wood with carnauba-based wax begins with one rule: Less is more. Since you buff away most of the wax you put on, applying it with a heavy hand simply wastes the product. Instead, start with a dollop of wax on a clean rag, let it dry to a uniform haze, then wipe it away with your rag. Keep in mind the best time to apply carnauba wax is as the final step of your project, since it enhances the look of your finish. For smaller decorative items, you can use carnauba wax as the only finish since long-term endurance isn’t required.

Carnauba wax is a highly useful, practical addition to your arsenal of woodworking finishes, providing a natural alternative to synthetic product ingredients and petroleum distillates. Used on its own, carnauba wax has its limitations, but blending with other waxes lets the hardness and sheen of the finishing product shine.