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Car Wax vs. Paint Sealant

1. Wax, paint sealant... what's the difference?

Waxes and paint sealants (collectively called "car waxes") are protective coatings applied to the paint. Waxes can be made from a natural wax, usually Brazilian carnauba, or synthetically made using polymers or acrylic resins. Regardless of how they are made, waxes and paint sealants are both designed to protect your car's paint from oxidation and harmful elements that land on your car.

Car waxes and sealants make the surface of a car reflect more light.  As a result, the car looks vibrant.  When I saw this Porsche Carrera GT, it was hard to tell which reflected more, the water or the paint.  It looked alive.  Carnauba-based car waxes, like P21S,  add an element of depth and warmth to a car.  Paint sealants, like Ultima, offer more brilliance, sparkle and lasting protection.

Carnauba Car Wax

Carnauba comes from the fronds of the "tree of life" (Copernicia cerifera) native to Brazil.  It is nature's hardest, purest and most transparent wax.  Carnauba car waxes tend to produce a deeper, darker, richer shine that is often described as "three-dimensional.

Many enthusiasts and show car owners prefer the shine of carnauba waxes, especially on black, red and other dark colors.  Carnauba car waxes bead water nicely, absorb the acid content in rain, and hide minor swirls in the paint.

On the minus side, carnauba waxes are not as durable as synthetic waxes.  Depending on your climate, a carnauba wax might last a few days or a few weeks.  Additionally, some carnauba waxes can be temperamental, occasionally streaking under certain temperature or humidity conditions.

Synthetic Car Waxes (paint sealants)

Made from modern polymers or acrylic resins, paint sealants offer excellent durability and ease of application.  Quality paint sealants last 6 months or longer, and typically wipe on and off very easily.  The very best product available, Ultima Paint Guard Plus, is a clear sealant that you wipe on and allow to dry.  No buffing is required.