Carnauba

Synonyms: wax palm, carnauba palm, Brazilian Tree of Life, caranda palm, caranday palm
Scientific Name: Copernicia prunifera (Mill.) H.E. Moore
Family: Arecaceae (palm family)

Habitat

Brazil

Constituents

Carnauba wax consists primarily of saturated higher fatty acids: myricyl cerotate, carnaubic acid and cerotic acid

Description

The carnauba is a fan palm native to Brazil with a straight, cylindrical trunk that can grow up to 15 meters high. A crown of fan-shaped fronds radiates from the tip of its trunk; each reaching a length of up to 2 meters. Over time, the lower leaves wither and drop, leaving behind a spiral of scars on the trunk. Young leaves are covered on their upper and lower surfaces with numerous wax flakes. The leaf secretes these flakes to protect itself against dehydration. Carnauba flowers produce elongated yellowish berries, each containing oneseed.

Uses

Carnauba wax is a very hard, pale yellow to green wax with the highest melting point of all natural waxes (176-190 °F). When mixed with a soft wax, it raises the melting point of the softer wax. Carnauba wax is added to ointments, creams and lipsticks to improve their consistency and lend a gloss. It is also used in medicine manufacture as a tablet-coating agent and in the production of vinyl records, candles and polishes, as well as paper finishing. This indigestible wax is free of all fragrances and is completely eliminated after ingestion, making it suitable for use as a separating agent in foodstuffs such as jelly beans or chocolates with a hard shell, and as a protective coating for apples and citrus fruits (reference number E 903). Fruits with a carnauba coating are labelled "waxed."

Interesting Facts

The carnauba palm was given the scientific name Copernicia in honor of the famous astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543). The epithet prunifera is formed from the Latin prunum, meaning plum, and -fer, meaning bearing, and describes the fruits of the palm. In its native Brazil the carnauba palm is also called carnaúbeira. About 300 years ago in the northeast of Brazil, Spanish Jesuits learned the diverse uses of the carnauba palm from the indigenous Tremembé Indians, who knew the palm as the Tree of Wisdom. Preparations from its roots are used to combat inflammation. The cherry-sized fruits make good animal feed and, when boiled and ground, can be used as a coffee substitute. In addition, the shoots make a tasty soup, the pith provides a starchy flour, and palm syrup can be made from the sap - this, in turn, can be made into a wine or vinegar. The palm's hard wood makes a durable building material and high-quality veneer, the leaf fibers can be made into ropes, mats and hats, and the fronds into roof coverings and hammocks. The wax is the only produce of the palm that has achieved economic significance. To obtain the wax, the young, cut fronds of the carnauba palm are dried. During the drying process the leaf shrinks and the wax flakes can then be threshed or scraped from the leaves. The yield is relatively small, however. One leaf produces two grams of wax. Each tree yields 160 grams of wax per year. The first load of wax was shipped to Europe in 1824 on the initiative of the Englishman James

Frederick Clark. Until the outbreak of the World War II, the export of carnauba wax to Europe played an important economic role in many areas of Brazil. Then synthetic substitutes ousted carnauba wax from the market and this export sector collapsed.

The Plant at Dr. Hauschka Skin Care

Carnauba wax protects the skin against external influences and contributes to the heat stability of Eye DefinerLip Care Stick, Lip Liner, Lip Line Definer, Lipstick and Sheer Lipstickincreasing their breaking strength and providing the desired shine.

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