Candelilla Wax Extraction
The crude wax is extracted in the field by heating the plants in water, adding sulfuric acid, and skimming off the wax. The hot wax called cerote is allowed to cool. When no more wax is left the plants are removed from the solution with pitchforks and allowed to dry in the hot sun. These dried plants are used as fuel to heat the water for the next wax extraction. In this manner, everything from the plant is recycled with no waste.
Refining and Processing
After the cerote has cooled, this crude wax is transported to the refinery where it is reheated, and the impurities removed by passing the hot, liquid wax through a filter press. The filtered Candelilla wax can be bleached into a light yellow color.
The refined or bleached Candelilla is then processed into flakes, slabs, lumps, powder, or pastilles. These processed Candelilla waxes are then ready for use.
In order to assure a steady supply the Mexican government regulates the harvest of the plants to set up re-vegetation programs and to avoid any environmental problems.
Emulsifed Wax formula:
George Frank's formula for emulsified wax is an excellent decorative patinating wax especially for limed or whitewashed surfaces.
Melt in a double boiler:
(Suggest a hotplate outdoors to avoid fire danger!)
4 ounces of Candelilla wax flake,
4 ounces of Carnauba wax flake,
and 61/2 ounces of Stearic Acid.
In a separate glass, earthenware,
or enameled container add:
1 ounce (liquid) of Triethanolamine (for emilsufication)
to 31/2 quarts of boiling water*.
(*If your water is high in minerals, use distilled water or rain water)
Now; pour the melted wax mixture into the water; begin stirring with a wooden paddle as soon as you finish pouring. Continue stirring until the mixture cools and has the consistency of heavy cream.
Candelilla (Wax Plant)
Hard vegetable wax, brittle, lustrous, slightly tacky. Color varies from light brown to light yellow. Low coefficient of expansion and contraction.Candelilla is softer than carnauba wax and used with carnauba and other waxes for furniture wax formulations.
Melting Point ... From 68.5° to 72° Centigrade (155° to 161° Fahrenheit)
Candelilla is native to the Chihuahuan Desert in northern Mexico and western Texas. The plant is a mass of erect pencil-like succulent stems. The stems are leafless during the dry season, but put on new leaves following rain. The stems have a natural vegetable wax that occurs as an outer coating of the shrub which helps retain moisture and protect it from the hot sun and winds.
Small pinkish-white flowers appear as clusters along the stems in spring and fall seasons.
The wax on the stems has been used in candle-making, hence the common name. The wax is also used commercially in many other products, including candy, crayons and polishing waxes.
Usage & Applications
Candelilla is the plasticizer used with chicle to make chewing gum. The wax gives the gum its chew. The oil retention properties of Candelilla allow the gum to hold flavors well and for this application has proven to be superior to most synthetic waxes.
Candelillas extraordinary molding qualities capable of reproducing fine detail make it a superior precision casting wax. Properties, such as chemical stability, water repellency, high melting point, and good electrical resistance, make Candelilla useful in electronic and electrical products, liquid and paste polishes and waterproofing compounds. Other applications include paints, sealing waxes, paint removers, cosmetics, lubricants, adhesives, dyes, paper making additives, and pyrotechnics.
Campesinos pull the entire shrub from the soil, leaving parts of the root that within three years grows into a mature plant. Harvested candelilla plants are transported to the field extraction facility.