Is Carnauba Wax Vegan 2023?

We have often heard the controversy asking is carnauba wax vegan’ and how terrible it is. But what is all the hype all about, and is there anything you should know aside from the harvesting issues.

Carnauba wax is not vegan-friendly. Humans and animals are exploited in the production. There is an Initiative for Responsible Carnauba that makes the production indeed vegan-friendly, but even then the fatty oils and hydrocarbons can be made using animals and insects.

Well, be prepared to find out something you didn’t know about carnauba wax even the Vegan experts aren’t telling you.

Let’s dive into it!


Carnauba wax comes from a plant that is exclusively grown in Brazil and actually comes from the Copernicia prunifera palm. The wax itself is obtained by beating the palm fronds after they’ve been dried.

In its natural state, the natural wax that comes off the palm leaves is yellow-colored. From there, it goes through a refining process that contains fatty acid esters, alcohols, and hydrocarbons.

Here is the actual composition:

  • Fatty acid esters: 80-85%
  • Fatty alcohols: 10-16%
  • Acids: 6%
  • Hydrocarbons: 1-3%
  • Esterified fatty diols: 20%
  • Hydroxylated fatty acids: 6%
  • Hydroxylated or Methoxylated cimmatic acids: 10%

Carnauba wax naturally has a higher melting point than other waxes. It melts at 180-187 degrees Fahrenheit and makes it perfect for polishing to a glass-like shine!

Many who smell carnauba wax will immediately associate that smell with the smell of candy. This smell is from the wax itself and has a distinctively sweet smell to it.

The Controversy

The issue comes from the use of slave labor in Brazil and using children to harvest the palm plant. In the months between autumn through spring, these plant leaves are cut down and the leaves are allowed to grow back.

Using labor in Brazil that is underage is a common part of life in Brazil. It’s a very poor part of the country and earns about 12 US dollars per day.

This is equal to the current rate for minimum wage in Brazil!

Commonly, children who are 14 years of age can work as an apprentice. By the age of 16 years old, the child is allowed to work any job in Brazil.

Exploiting people or animals does not align with veganism.

However there is an organisation called Initiative for Responsible Carnauba to prevent the exploit of humans and animals. This is a step towards making carnauba wax vegan-friendly.

Why Carnauba Wax Might Not Be Vegan?

There are two ingredients that might not be vegan in the production of carnauba wax and that’s fatty alcohols and hydrocarbons.

Let’s take a closer look.

Fatty Alcohols

While most fatty alcohols are produced using plants and vegetables, it’s not uncommon that animals and insects are used in the production process as well.

Animal fats called Tallows make up a certain portion of fatty alcohols that are still produced today. According to the industry percentages, 50% of the organic fatty alcohol is produced using plants, animals, and insects


This is essentially the remaining liquid that has been transformed into oil that is made from plants and animals. It has been exploited by people since it was discovered underneath the ground and is used as fuel.


In retrospective research of Carnauba wax is an issue that has always been disputed with on-the-fence ethics, it’s certainly not vegan.

If you still want to consume carnauba wax in a product then go to Initiative for Responsible Carnauba and look for the company producing it at the members area.

You are forewarned to research these processing methods yourself for all the right reasons. Since there is at least 50% of fatty alcohols having animal and insect processing involved, this item is harder to dismiss.

Furthermore, is the presence of fossilized plant and animal material used, is evident.

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