photo by: Lauren Laskoski
Back in the day my dad would meticulously "simoniz" his cars with a hard paste wax from DuPont and it took forever. It came in a steel can, not aluminum. And he swore by it. He'd do this in the summer in Sag Harbor, NY when he was supposed to be enjoying his "vacation." Most of us watched or brought him lemonade.

These days, all the talk is about 'Carnauba' and car waxes with Carnauba oil. What's the deal with that? To get the answer we contacted the experts. (We went to Autogeek.net and stopped by Advance Auto Parts.)

Autogeek says that Carnauba wax is the preferred car wax of collectors and auto detailers because it creates a rich, warm glow. It doesn’t appear to sit on the paint. It transforms the paint into a deep, liquid pool that shimmers under changing light conditions. The more carnauba wax, the more shine.

The wax is produced by the Brazilian Tree of Life, a palm tree, in order to coat its leaves. The wax provides protection from the sweltering sun and it sheds water so it falls onto the ground and is absorbed by the tree’s roots. If you think back to junior high science class, you might remember that plants release oxygen through their leaves. For this reason, carnauba wax is breathable. It's good for the tree and good for your paint.

Carnauba is rock hard in its natural form. When the leaves are harvested the wax comes off in hard flakes. Car wax makers have to blend it with oil and petroleum distillates or solvents in order to make it easy to apply.

Autogeek says the very best carnauba-based car wax is only about 1/3 natural carnauba. (The price gets higher and higher as the concentration of carnauba rises.) When a product advertises “pure carnauba car wax” or “100% carnauba car wax”, they are referring to the purity of the carnauba that is in the product, not the product as a whole. One example is Mother’s California Gold Pure Carnauba Paste Wax.

Carnauba also has its own "grading" system. Carnauba is harvested and then graded according to color, purity, and where it was grown. Trees grown in the northern area of Brazil produce the highest grade carnauba. The yellow wax is the most pure and therefore receives the highest grade. This is the grade most commonly used in high end car waxes and in the pharmaceutical industry as a pill coating. (Who knew?!)

Some manufacturers refine the yellow wax again into an ultra-pure white wax to ensure that the wax produces the clearest, most reflective gloss once applied to the paint. Such is the case with products like Pinnacle Souveran and Pinnacle Signature Series II.

Ultimately, carnauba can do for your car what it does in nature; it protects the leaves of a palm tree from the intense heat and Brazil's humidity. The carnauba car wax repels water and, consequently, most contaminants. When applied to any surface, carnauba retains these characteristics. That's why it's also extremely popular among surfers for their surfboards. Therefore, an application of a carnauba-based car wax to your vehicle will protect it from UV rays, heat, moisture, oxidation, and environmental contamination.

And Advance Auto Parts' customers say it's well worth a few extra dollars because the resulting color and shine is simply unbelievable.