The key difference between Candelilla wax and Carnauba wax is that Candelilla wax has a high carbon content, whereas carnauba wax contains a low carbon content.
Candelilla and carnauba are two types of natural waxes that have plant origins. Both have important properties that make them useful in different industries.
What is Candelilla Wax?
Candelilla wax is a wax derived from the leaves of the small candelilla shrub that is native to northern Mexico and the Southwestern US, Euphorbia cerifera and Euphorbia antisyphilitica that come from the Euphorbiaceae. This wax can be described as a hard, brittle, yellowish-brown, aromatic, and opaque to translucent material.
The chemical formula for this waxy material can be given as C31H64. The molar mass of Candelilla wax is 436.84 g/mol. Its melting point is in the range of 68.5 – 72.5 degrees Celsius. However, its boiling point is higher than 240 degrees Celsius. It is insoluble in water. However, it is soluble in ethanol, benzene, and petroleum ether. The flash point of this compound can be given as 313.1 degrees Celsius. Moreover, the lethal dose of Candelilla wax is >5000 mg/kg for rats via oral administration.
This material has a high content of hydrocarbons, which is around 50% of the total material content, and these hydrocarbons usually have chains with 29-33 carbons. This wax has esters with a high molecular weight, free acids, and some resin compounds such as triterpenoid esters.
We can obtain the Candelilla wax by boiling the leaves and stems of the shrub with dilute sulfuric acid. This results in “cerote,” which is then skimmed from the surface and it is further processed. Manufacturers produce about 900 tons of this wax in this method annually.
There are many uses of Candelilla wax, including its use as a food additive and use as a glazing agent. It is used in the cosmetic industry as a component in lip balms and lotion bars. Another major use is as a binder for chewing gums. Furthermore, we can use it as a substitute for Carnauba wax and beeswax.
What is Carnauba Wax?
Carnauba wax is a type of natural wax that consists of fatty acid esters, fatty alcohols, acids, and hydrocarbons. This wax is obtained from palm plants known as Copernicia prunifera, which are grown mainly in Brazil. We can obtain the wax by beating the wax off the dried palm fronds, followed by the refining of this extract. Typically, pure carnauba wax is yellow in color.
Generally, carnauba wax consists of about 80-85% fatty acid esters. Around 20% of the wax is esterified fatty diols. 10% of the wax is methoxylated or hydroxylated cinnamic acid. Moreover, about 6% of the wax contains hydroxylated fatty acids.
More importantly, this wax is harder than concrete and insoluble in water and ethanol. Moreover, it has a very high melting point. However, carnauba wax is non-toxic and hypoallergenic. We can polish this wax to a high gloss.
The applications of carnauba wax include use in food, cosmetics, automobile, and furniture wax, as molds for semiconductor devices, as coatings for dental flosses, etc. In other words, hypoallergenic properties and high gloss make it important as a thickener in cosmetics, including lipstick, eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow, foundation, deodorant, etc.
However, carnauba wax itself is brittle; therefore, it is often used in combination with other waxes such as beeswax. Therefore, we can use carnauba wax to treat and waterproof leather products. In addition, it gives these products a high gloss finish and increases the hardness of leather and durability.
What is the Difference Between Candelilla Wax and Carnauba Wax?
Candelilla wax and carnauba wax are important materials in different industries. The key difference between Candelilla wax and Carnauba wax is that Candelilla wax has a high carbon content, whereas carnauba wax contains a low carbon content. Typically, the content of hydrocarbons in Candelilla wax is about 50%, while carnauba wax has only about 3% hydrocarbons.
The below infographic presents the differences between Candelilla wax and Carnauba wax in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – Candelilla Wax vs Carnauba Wax
Candelilla wax is a wax derived from the leaves of the small candelilla, while carnauba wax is a type of natural wax that consists of fatty acid esters, fatty alcohols, acids, and hydrocarbons. The key difference between Candelilla wax and Carnauba wax is that Candelilla wax has a high carbon content, whereas carnauba wax contains a low carbon content.
1. “Candelilla Wax.” Chemsrc.
1. “Cera candelilla1” By Maša Sinreih in Valentina Vivod – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Cera carnauba scaglie” By Gixie – Antiquariatoerestauro (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia