Waxes and sealants both provide valuable protection and enhance the shine of your vehicle’s paint. Waxes have long been the dominant form of protection but they are being replaced by new synthetic sealants. Sealants and waxes are both great products and knowing the differences between them can help you select what product or combination of products works best for you.
Waxes are primarily made from properties found in nature like carnauba wax. Waxes have fine water molecules in them, which make them more sensitive to heat than sealants. Once the clear coat temperature reaches 125 – 200 degrees the moisture inside the wax starts evaporate and the wax will melt, leaving the paint without protection. If a wax is melting it becomes soft and contaminates in the air can settle in the wax. As the wax cools the contaminates can become trapped in the wax. Natural waxes will generally protect your vehicle from 2 – 14 weeks. If you apply a wax to a dark colored vehicle and let it sit in direct sunlight continuously it will melt quickly, but if you have a lighter colored vehicle and store it in a garage you can get up to 3 months of protection.
Sealants are made in labs from artificial properties like polymers, resins, acrylics, etc. Creating a sealant basically takes ordinary polymers and removes properties that do not add more shine or protection to the formula by reducing the presence of water and other unnecessary elements. Sealants will only begin to melt at several hundred degrees and will last 3 – 12 months. Sealants are generally much more resistant to nature’s harsh elements and abrasions. Applying a sealant to your vehicle would be ideal to give it maximum protection for the winter months.
Sealants add a great shine and make the surface feel very slick. Sometimes right after applying a sealant the surface is so slick that moisture doesn’t really bead up it sheets off. Sealants tend to be very reflective. So why would anyone use a wax then if sealants provides such superior protection and a great shine? Waxes typically provide a deeper and glossier appearance that makes the paint look endlessly deep. This look is sometimes referred to as “wet” or “hard candy” and looks stunning when done right. Typically a pure carnauba wax is used to give off this effect and produce the deepest shine possible. When automobile manufacturers display new models they will often apply multiple coats of a carnauba wax so their vehicle is sure to be eye catching.
So now we must evaluate what form of protection works best for vehicle owners. If you have a daily driver we recommend applying a sealant to ensure that you have a strong layer of protection for months to come. If you detail your vehicle regularly (at least once a month) or you have a vehicle that’s not regularly driven you may want to just use a carnauba wax. With regular applications and/or light driving, the carnauba wax will give you the protection you need and the shine you want. To have the best of both worlds top off a coat of sealant with a layer of carnauba wax. This will give you the enduring protection of the sealant along with the rich and glossy appearance of a wax for a show car shine.