Carnauba Wax vs Beeswax: Their Differences & Which to Use?

By MWB-Team •  Updated: 05/24/23 • 

Wax is one of the oldest wood finishes around. It is used as a primary wood finish and as a polish over other types of wood finishes. Wax can be derived from both natural and synthetic materials.

Until recently, beeswax was the main type of wax used in finishing. However, there are other types of natural waxes, such as paraffin wax and carnauba wax. In this article, we’ll compare beeswax to carnauba wax to help you know which one to use.

What is Carnauba Wax?

Carnauba wax is a type of natural wax that is extracted from the leaves of a Brazilian palm tree. This wax is yellow in color and is very hard compared to other types of waxes. Carnauba wax also has a higher melting point, at 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

Because of its hardness, when applied to wood, carnauba wax produces a higher shine than other waxes. However, its hardness makes it harder to buff out when used alone. For this reason, carnauba wax is often mixed with softer waxes, like paraffin and beeswax, to make it easier to buff.

What is Beeswax?

Beeswax is the most common type of natural wax around. It is derived from honeycombs, which bees use to use honey and protect their larvae. Unlike carnauba wax, beeswax is softer, has a lower melting point, and produces a medium shine when used on wood.

Beeswax is easier to buff on wood because of its soft nature. One hundred percent beeswax is also safe for use with food-grade items without the risk of ingesting chemicals. As a natural product, you can also make your beeswax finish or polish it at home easily.

Carnauba Wax vs. Beeswax

Effect on Wood

Both carnauba wax and beeswax are great for wood finish or furniture polisher use. Because carnauba wax is harder, it has a higher sheen than beeswax when used on wood products. Check out our article on the best wax for wood furniture.

Source and Availability

Beeswax is more common and readily available to most people. Making a beeswax finish or polish at home is also easier than carnauba wax. Carnauba is extracted from a Brazilian palm plant known as Copernicia prunifera. The process of getting carnauba wax starts by beating the wax off dried Brazilian palm fronds. The wax extracts are then refined to obtain pure carnauba wax.

Color and Texture

Both carnauba and beeswax are yellow. Their texture is different, with carnauba wax having a smoother texture of two. Beeswax has a grainy texture, which can cause it to smudge easily when applied to wood.

Ease of Application

When it comes to ease of application, beeswax is a better and easier option to apply to a wooden surface. It is soft, which makes it easier to buff on wood. Carnauba wax is harder and brittle, which makes it difficult to buff. Often, carnauba is mixed with a softer wax like paraffin wax or beeswax to make it easier to buff.


Hello there! This is the Make Wood Better Team. Here, we share informative how-tos and guides focused on making wood better. Whether it's finishing wood, maintenance, or restoration, there's something on this website for you to learn and improve your skills.