When you come across "carnauba wax" in an ingredients list, you might be wondering: Is carnauba wax vegan? Carnauba wax, known as the "queen of waxes", is a vegetable wax that gives products a glossy finish. While it is used in food products, it's also used in makeup, furniture polish, car wax and more. But is it vegan? Let's take a closer look.
Where Does Carnauba Wax Come From?
According to Carnauba Wax from Brittannica, "carnauba wax, also called Brazil wax or ceara wax, vegetable wax obtained from the fronds of the carnauba palm (Copernicia prunifera) of Brazil...The carnauba palm is a fan palm of the northeastern Brazilian savannas, where it is called the "tree of life" for its many useful products. After 50 years, the tree can attain a height of over 14 metres (45 feet). It has a dense, large crown of round, light green leaves.
During the regular dry seasons in northern Brazil, the carnauba palm protects its metre-long (three-foot) fronds from loss of moisture by secreting a coat of carnauba wax on the upper and lower leaf surfaces. The leaves are cut from September to March and left in the sun to dry. The powdery wax is removed by beating the shriveled leaves, then melted, strained, and cooled. The final product is yellow or brownish green, depending on the age of the leaves and the quality of processing."
The great news is that since it comes from carnauba trees, carnauba wax is a vegan product. Also, as only the leaves of the palm are used, there's no need to cut down the trees. This makes carnauba wax a sustainable natural product.
What are the Uses of Carnauba Wax?
Because of its high melting point, it is used in a variety of products. A high melting point means that it will not melt at lower temperatures and stay in the solid state it's meant to be in. These uses include:
- cosmetic products including lip balms
- car polish
- shoe polish
- furniture polish
- shiny coating for some candies that prevents them from melting in your hand, including M&Ms
- dental floss
- protective coating for fruit like apples
- thickening agent for creams
- coating vitamins
- wax for surf boards
- environmentally friendly food wrap
- providing texture to snack foods such as fruit snacks
Is Carnauba Wax Safe to Use in Food?
Carnauba wax is a natural ingredient but is it safe to use in food? According to What is Carnauba Wax and Is It Safe to Eat by Vegan Liftz, the FDA currently lists carnauba wax as being safe for human consumption provided that it is used ins the proper manufacturing and feeding processes. One of the reasons why carnauba wax is so safe to eat is because its high melting point prevents it from breaking down in the body. Essentially, the carnauba wax passes right through your digestive system without leaving behind any of its components." So carnauba wax is safe to be included in a vegan diet.
Is carnauba wax gluten-free?
Yes, carnauba was is gluten-free. It is also hypoallergenic which is why it is commonly used in cosmetics.
Can I buy carnauba wax flakes?
Yes. You can buy them online on Amazon and other websites.
Is carnauba wax one of the hardest natural waxes?
Yes! It is actually the hardest natural wax and a great alternative to non-vegan waxes.
When is carnauba wax not vegan?
Sometimes, carnauba wax is mixed with other waxes, commonly beeswax which is not a vegan ingredient. If it is mixed with beeswax, it is no longer a vegan product. However, you can find 100% carnauba wax flakes.
Is carnauba wax harvested in the United States?
No. The carnauba trees are found in Brazil, not the US.
Are there any health benefits of consuming carnauba wax?
Not really. But at least it isn't harmful.
What's the shelf life of carnauba wax?
Products differ but it should be able to be stored for around 4 years.
Carnauba wax is a plant-based wax that can be a good alternative to beeswax and petroleum-based waxes. This natural vegetable wax is used in many products including makeup, food, product polish and more. It is a common ingredient in vegan candies as it can replace waxes that come from an animal source to give the candy a shiny shell. It's higher melting point makes it extremely versatile in food and body care products. It can also give products a naturally waterproof coating. Since it's made from the palm fronds instead of the carnauba trees themselves, it's a great vegan option that doesn't require the trees to be cut down.
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