Called the “Queen of Waxes,”carnauba wax comes from the leaves of the tropical palm, Copernicia prunifera (copernica cerifera), native to Brazil. It is a complex mixture of aliphatic (waxy) esters, hydroxyl esters and cinnamic aliphatic diesters, along with free acids, free alcohols, hydrocarbons and resins.
Carnauba wax forms on the fronds of the trees and is recovered by cutting and drying the fronds, then mechanically removing the wax. Impurities are removed from the wax by melting and filtering, or centrifuging.
It is also used in shoe polishes, furniture polish, automobile wax, and a coating for dental floss. Carnauba wax is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry to coats pills, and make tablets easier for patients to swallow. The coating adheres because the wax is insoluble in water. It is also the hardest of the commercial vegetable waxes.
Carnauba wax is used in the cosmetic industry in mascara and eye liner.
The European Food Safety Authority (ESFA) reaffirmed the safety of carnauba waxat current usage levels, with its toxicity within the margins generally classified as No Observed Adverse Effect Levels (NOAELs). Their Scientific Opinion states: “The panel considered that carnauba wax would be predicted to not be significantly absorbed from the diet and that if hydrolyzed its main constituents could be absorbed and incorporated into normal cellular metabolic pathways. Based on the available data nd the lack of structural alerts on carnauba wax it was concluded that there is no concern for genotoxicity for carnauba wax. Subchronic and reproductive and developmental toxicity studies did not show adverse effects related to carnauba wax intake. No chronic toxicity or carcinogenicity studies were available on carnauba wax.” No data was obtained with respect to allergenicity, hypersensitivity, or intolerance. The ESFA concluded, “Overall the Panel concluded that long-term toxicity data on carnauba wax were lacking and therefore did not establish and ADI (Acceptable Daily Intake).”
And yet, the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for carnauba wax lists the product as “Very hazardous in case of ingestion”. No doubt this was determined for lab ratswho ingested substantial quantities of carnauba wax. But note that data for carcinogenic effects, mutagenic effects, teratogenic effects and developmental toxicity are listed in Section 3 as “Not available.”
5 Foods You Didn’t Know Contain Car Wax
Apples. Foods commonly waxed include: apples, oranges, tangerines, lemons, peaches, bananas, melons, avocados, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, turnips, cassava and potatoes. Waxes are typically applied by dipping, brushing or spraying the produce. This practice is very common, especially in supermarkets. Thin layer of wax is coated on apples, either by dipping, brushing or spraying with waxes like Carnauba. This wax is not digested, but is passed out through the digestive system.
Peeps. Interesting enough, when a group of Emory scientists put Peeps through a destructibility test, only the chicks’ brown carnauba wax eyessurvived a bath in Phenol, a protein-dissolving lethal solvent.