Carnauba (Copernicia prunifera) wax is produced from a powder obtained from the leaves of Copernicia prunifera.
This palm tree inhabits a tropical climate and it is subjected to long periods of
drought. In such conditions, the leaves are naturally involved by a waxy film. The wax
is generated in the inner cells of the leaves and then migrates to its surface. This
natural adaptation mechanism occurs in order to avoid transpiration and thus the excessive
loss of humidity by evaporation.
The carnauba is a brazilian native species, it belongs to the palms family. The production
of wax only occurs on the areas of the Brazilian states of Ceara, Maranhao, Piaui and Rio
Grande do Norte, due to the climate of such. In this region the carnauba carries an important
social value. Approximately 200 thousand field workers get economically involved on the
carnauba powder extraction throughout the second semester of each year.
The carnauba powder removal occurs in rainy scarce season, it is when agricultural activity
and other sources of income are less viable in the country side. Thus, the extraction of
carnauba wax configures itself as an important alternative for income generation in periods
of drought, favoring the fixing of the men in their regions of origin.
The carnauba fields are spread along the coast to the country on the northeast region of
Brazil. Are often found on the banks of rivers, seasonally flooded areas. The carnauba tree
have slow growth, reaching 15 to 20 meters high. The carnauba palm trees are of great longevity.
Some say that live up to 200 years.
Carnauba is a name of Tupi (brazilian native indians) origin. Meaning “tree that scratches”. The
expression refers to the thorny layer that is the lower part of the trunk. It is also known by
other names such as: "caranaíba", "carnaba”, “carandaúba", "carnahyba" and "carnaúva". In addition
to the waxy powder, the carnauba is a raw material source for various other activities. The
leaves are employed in the coverage of houses, in the manufacture of paper and in making crafts.
The oleaginous fruits are used in animal nutrition. The almonds and the roots serve for the
preparation of medicines. Trunks are used to building structures for construction. Due to its
various utilities, it is called "tree of life".
For the powder extraction, the leaves are cut, a kind of a pruning which does not harm the tree
and yet delays its ageing. The procedure is usually done by a team composed of five men, a “vareiro”
(the stick operator) and four assistants. After cutting, the adult leaves are separated from the
youngest. They produce different types of waxes with particular characteristics.
The drying of the leaves can be done in three ways: in ground by beating (traditional method), yard
or solar dryer. The traditional method takes approximately 8 to 10 days, period in which the leaves
lie on the ground until they are completely dried by the sun. This process does not offer the best
results, as the dried leaves are exposed to contamination by sand and other wastes.
Drying in the yard, the leaves are hanging 30 cm from the ground, in the direction of the wind. The
contact with the ground is avoided, which minimizes the buildup of impurities. In this method, the
drying time also depends on the intensity of sunlight.
With the use of an outfit called solar dryer, the leaves are subjected to high temperatures and dry
normally in 48 hours. This new technology was developed by the Federal universities of Ceará and
Piauí (UFC/UFPI) with the support of Sectoral Chamber of Carnauba and Secretary of agrarian development
of Ceara State. The solar dryer consists on flexible plastic and metal structure. Works like a greenhouse.
In its interior, the leaves are hanging, avoiding contact with the ground. This method increases the
productivity of the powder by minimizing waste buildup.
After the leaves are dried, then the hitting occurs for complete removal of the powder. The process can
be done manually or using a machine called “derriçadeira”, which extracts the powder using vibratory
vanes. Employment of such machine offers more security to the worker, in addition to increased productivity.
The powder is then stored in cotton bags. The drying and hitting of the young and mature leaves are made
separately to prevent mixing of different qualities of powder originated from those different leaves.
The raw material can be forwarded to the industry in powder form or lumps. The solid form is obtained by
boiling the powder in water, for later solidification and packaging.
In our facilities the crude wax is submitted to laboratory analysis which testifies the quality of our raw materials.
The qualified raw materials go through the following processes:
• Fusion reactors at 120 °C for elimination of excessive moisture;
• Filtration by press with diatomaceous earth and clarifying agents for elimination of impurities, resins and pigments;
• Bleaching with hydrogen peroxide in stainless steel reactors for Standardization of color according to the types of wax;
• Storage in liquid form, to meet customers who so wish to receive it;
• Flaking in stainless steel flake machines, to meet clients who so wish to receive it;
• Packaging and labeling of the wax in standardized bags of 25 kg net.
Our sustainable industrial activity makes use of natural resources. We use natural gas as fuel for being
a less polluting source of energy. The rejects of filtration are recycled. It originates wax or organic fertilizer.
To compensate the carbon emissions of the productive cycle, we financially support the Association
Caatinga (www.acaatinga.org.br), a nonprofit civil entity that promotes conservation and education for sustainable use
of caatinga, cradle of carnauba tree. For every 5 tons purchased our clients adopts an hectare of the caatinga – by the
end of the year they receive a Certificate indicating the total area they adopted and stating as a maintainer of such biome.