Beeswax is the oldest natural wax used
by humans and still is the most important animal wax. Beeswax is an end product
of the metabolism of a honeybee class (Apis mellifica, A. carnica),
which belongs to the Apis genus (267).
The composition of beeswax varies, depending on its geographic origin, but its
main components are palmitate, palmitoleate, hydroxypalmitate, and oleate
esters of long-chain alcohols (C30–C32). The total esters, with 36–54 carbon
atoms, amount to 70–90% of the total weight (265).
Beeswax comprises of 70-80% wax esters, 10-15% free acids, and 10-20% paraffins
(267). The principal free wax acid component is cerotic acid
The leaf wax of the carnauba palm (Copernicia
cerifera) is by far the most important recent vegetable wax, both
economically and with regard to applications. Carnauba wax is one of the
hardest and highest-melting natural waxes. It is readily soluble in most
nonpolar solvents on warming. Carnauba wax is only partially soluble in polar
solvents, even on warming, and is generally sparingly soluble at room temperature
(0.15–0.6%) (267). Carnauba wax
composition is presented in Table 19.The wax deposited on the stalks and leaf
stems of Euphorbia (E. cerifera, E. antisyphilitica) and Pedilanthus
(P. pavonis, P. aphyllus) species, which grow as bushes or shrubs,
is known as candelilla wax. Candelilla wax is a hard, brittle wax that is very
similar to carnauba wax with regard to solubility in polar and nonpolar organic
The average candelilla wax constituents by weight are hydrocarbons (42%), wax,
resin, and sitosteroyl esters (39%), lactones (6%), free wax and resin acids
(8%), and free wax and resin alcohols (5%) (269).
Although most waxes are not for direct
food applications, they are widely used in contact with food. Fresh fruits and
vegetables such as apples and green peppers are often coated with waxes for
shelf life extension, and cardboard boxes used for food transportation are
coated for improving mechanical strength and moisture resistance.
are also commonly used as an important ingredient in lubricant, adhesives,
foods, cosmetics, pharmaceutics and inks. Based on the sources of waxes, they
are generally categorized as petroleum-based, synthetic, and natural waxes.
Petroleum-based wax constitutes 70% of the market. Vegetable oils represent a promising
source for producing renewable and eco-friendly wax alternatives due to their abundance
and inherent biodegradability (271).