Car Wax Formula: Understanding What It's Made of

January 27, 2012

A traditional car wax formula usually consists of a blend of carnauba wax, mixed with other waxes, such as beeswax, natural oils, and will sometimes also include petroleum distillates. Many newer formulations also contain special polymers and resins which are used as both a car wax hardener and shine enhancer. Car wax comes in spray, paste, and liquid varieties with formulas suited for various paint types. The majority of car waxes are in paste form. Because car wax tends to be sticky, with a low melting point, it tends to attract dust to the paint surface. Car wax must be reapplied every one to three months in order to maintain protection and shine.

Auto paint sealant is manufactured from synthetic waxes and is designed to better protect the surface of the car from the elements. In addition, most paint sealants consist of polymers and silicones which adhere to the surface of the paint and thus offer better protection than wax, but they also tend to provide less shine. Many newer formulas of paint sealant contain micronized ingredients which allow them to more easily penetrate the paint surface, providing longer lasting protection and improved shine. Most paint sealants are in liquid or spray on form. While most car waxes require that it be applied, allowed to dry, and then buffed, many auto paint sealants require only that it be applied with a soft cloth; no drying or buffing required.

Common Car Wax Ingredients

  • Carnauba wax is a hard wax obtained from the leaves of a Brazilian palm tree which produces a glassy shine. Carnauba based waxes must be reapplied frequently in order to maintain shine.
  • Beeswax is a durable wax found in honeycombs and used in car wax formulas to provide a protective barrier.
  • Natural oils, such as linseed oil, are emollients use to provide added shine, luster, and protection, to the painted surface.
  • Synthetic wax can be created from certain plastics or silicones and is used primarily in auto paint sealants. These waxes are considerably more durable than carnauba wax but produce far less shine.
  • Petroleum distillates are solvents derived from crude oil that make the wax easier to spread and to clean the paint.
  • Resins and polymers are plastic like substances that adhere to the paint surface offering longer lasting protection than wax. They are most frequently found in auto paint sealants.

Car wax should only be used on clean, dry surfaces, in the shade. Car wax should be applied to one surface at a time, allowed to dry, and then gently removed using a soft cotton cloth or automotive style microfiber cloth. Many auto enthusiasts recommend first using an automotive paint cleaner, followed by an automotive paint sealant, and then several coats of a high quality wax. This will provide a longer lasting, higher level of protection and the maximum level of shine. Only use products intended for automotive applications and do not apply them to glass, plastic, rubber, or vinyl surfaces. Car wax and auto paint sealant ingredients vary greatly between manufacturers. However, choosing high quality products will help assure long lasting protection and shine.

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