Waxes are a different category of organic compounds that are hydrophobic, malleable solids near ambient temperatures. They consist of higher alkanes and lipids, typically with melting points above about 40 °C (104 °F), melting to give low viscosity liquids. Waxes are not soluble in water but soluble in organic, nonpolar solvents. Different types of natural waxes are produced by plants and animals and occur in petroleum.
Natural waxes may contain unsubstituted hydrocarbons, such as higher alkanes, but may also consist of various types of substituted long chain compounds, such as fatty acids, primary and secondary long chain alcohols, ketones and aldehydes. Further it also contains esters of fatty acids and long chain alcohols.
Plants secrete waxes into and on the surface of their cuticles in order to control evaporation, wettability and hydration. The epicuticular waxes of plants are mixtures of substituted long-chain aliphatic hydrocarbons, containing alkanes, alkyl esters, fatty acids, primary and secondary alcohols, diols, ketones, aldehydes. From the commercial perspective,carnauba wax is the most important plant wax, a hard wax obtained from the Brazilian palm Copernicia prunifera. Containing the ester myricyl cerotate, it has many uses, such as confectionery and other food coatings, car and furniture polish, floss coating, surfboard wax and other uses. Other more specialized vegetable waxes include candelilla wax and ouricury wax.