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Carnauba Wax – Good Enough To Eat!

October 3, 2009

It is this waxy little flake of an ingredient that gives those  colourful and shiny chocolates little chocolates their shine (E Number 903), makes polish glossy, enables your dental floss to catch the grime and helps your feet stick to that surfboard.  Its natural, its cost effective and its jam packed with anti-oxidants. What more could you want?

Anyway, I have been messing around with this ingredient as a way of making our lip balm recipe (for Cosmetic Kitchen) a little more glossy. Result = absolutely fabulous!

This wax comes as little dried flakes that melt at around 82C so a bit higher than beeswax (melting at around 63C) which means that when you use them, you need to be sure to melt these before adding your other ingredients to the pan.  The wax is a product of the “Tree of Life”  or Copernica Cerifera which can be found in Brazil. These trees produce this wax from their fan shaped leaves as a way of protecting them from the sun and from drying out – a natural sunscreen (for plants). The wax is harvested by mechanically grinding down the chopped lea to get a crude wax which is then sun dried before transporting off to be further processed (if required).  Each chopping results in the extraction of around 1Kg of wax which is not much but this ensures the trees ongoing health.

Chemically the wax is naturally brown through to yellow (some lipstick manufacturers would have the wax bleached so as not to affect the gloss colour). The wax is high in fatty acid esters (which is what gives it the high melting point) and also contains up to 20% of fatty acid diols. Diols are chemicals with a OH group at each end of the chain and help to give Caranuba wax its glossability! Another example of a diol would be propylene glycol. These diols  give carnauba wax the ability to bond with other chemicals making it a great ingredient for natural soap making!  The wax also contains up to 10% of cinamic acid, a natural antioxidant which helps stop the wax from going rancid (this is also found in Shea butter).

So, there you have it! A natural gloss enhancing ingredient that is pretty stable (shelf life of up to 4 years), hypoallergenic (this has been tested) and guilt free although I am sure if you looked carefully enough it would have some calorific value but we won’t talk about that now will we?

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