Multiceras develops 'groundbreaking' wax extraction process

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

New sustainable way of extracting wax

Related tags E number Petroleum

The Mexican natural ingredient supplier says it has developed a ‘groundbreaking’ way of extracting wax from the leaves of the Candelilla plant through the use of citric acid rather than sulfuric acid.

Candelilla wax has for the last 105 years, been extracted using a strong sulfuric acid. Now, Multiceras president Raul Marmolejo tells this publication that his company's process will be less stressful on the environment, safer for the candelilleros who harvest the wax, whilst also producing a purer substance in the long run.

The president adds that although initially skeptical of the new extraction method, Multiceras was surprised that after more than a century the process could be improved.

With market demand for more natural and environmentally friendly products, we tasked ourselves with coming up with a greener extracting process, and we believe that by using a very mild form of citric acid we have achieved that,” ​he says.

The wild Candelilla plant grows in the Chihuahuan desert where in order to protect itself and to help retain water, exudes a grayish powder to cover its surface, mostly comprised of wax. It is traditionally obtained in the field by boiling the leaves and stems with dilute sulfuric acid, and the resulting "cerote" is skimmed from the surface and further processed.

According to Marmolejo, the isolated location of the communities and the extreme weather conditions in the desert means there are limited number of job opportunities, and it is here that the wax extraction process provides the main source of income for the rural producer.

Since implementing the new process in August, the president says the candelilleros in Mina near Monterrey, Mexico have been trained in and already produced four metric tons of candelilla wax.

Industry constantly seeking greener alternatives

The industry has been making strenuous efforts to source natural products in a more sustainable way or seek out greener alternatives of late, particularly with ingredients recently found to have had negative effects on the environment.

In a similar quest for a greener alternative to the likes of polyethylene beads for exfoliation products recently, an effective solution was found by wax producer 'KahlWax' in the form of tiny beads of wax or hydrogenated oil that were found to just as easily cleanse the skin without damaging its' natural protective barrier.

Related news