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Waxes, Sealants and Ceramics

Waxes, Sealants and Ceramics! What is the difference and which is the best for me?

Lets start with wax:

Carnauba, also called Brazil wax and palm wax, is a wax of the leaves of the palm Copernicia prunifera, a plant native to and grown only in the northeastern Brazilian states of Piauí, Ceará, Maranhão, Bahia, and Rio Grande do Norte. Wikipedia

Melting point179.6°F (82°C)”

So the Carnauba tree secretes this wax as a form of sun block for its leaves, then people harvest that wax, the tree secretes more, and the cycle continues. This wax is what most people think of when they hear the term wax and that’s because it has been around for decades, provides a deep glow to your paint job and can be found anywhere that sells car care products.

The problem with wax is that it has a low melting point, 180* so basically your afternoon of hard work will be ruined while your car sits in the parking lot at work on a sunny day. That kind of sucks, right? So to get around this, product makers started adding other chemicals to make it easier to apply, last longer, etc. This is where liquid and spray waxes come from. Now, spray waxes and liquid waxes definitely have their place in even a professional detailers garage (I use them pretty often) but if they are truly “wax” (carnauba based) they still don’t have the greatest longevity. The best hybrid waxes are only good for 6 months in the best of conditions (more on this later)

Enter “Sealants”:

Sealants differ from wax in the sense that they are completely man made. (synthetic) There are so many to choose from that in the interest of keeping this article from becoming a novel, let’s just leave it at this. Different manufactures have produced their products to suit their needs. Pretty much all of them will be easy to apply and pretty much all of them will last 6 months or more, typically they vary in the “gloss enhancement” department. I can point you in the direction and list a few products that I like, however, what’s best for you will really come from trying out different products and seeing what looks best and applies easiest for you.

Just like waxes, there are spray sealants and liquid sealants and each have their own pros and cons. Much like spray waxes, it seems that the spray sealants I have used do not last as long as the liquid options.

Sealants are typically a little bit more expensive than plain old wax, but that price pays for the added gloss and longer life span. Which is more important to you, a few dollars up front or your vehicle not being protected from UV rays and other elements without re waxing every week or so?

CERAMICS!

This is probably one of my favorite topics because there is so much misinformation out there about what they are, how they work and what they can do. Let’s dive in.

Ceramic COATINGS: These are the “bees knees” they are what started the whole boom of ceramic based car care products. These coatings have longevity ratings measured in YEARS, not months, they are typically harder than the paint which makes them very scratch resistant (not scratch proof) and they will help keep your car cleaner, longer. When these coatings first came on the market, the going rate was about $2,000 for a two year coating. Now coatings last 5+ years and are much more affordable. Not nearly as cheap as wax or sealant, but a coating does things that those two just simply can not do. The biggest cost of the coating is the prep work that goes into them. Any scratches, chips or other defects that are in the paint, will be sealed in there for years to come so you really want the paint to be as perfect as possible before you coat it in order to keep it looking its best for the duration of the coating. Unless you really want to look at that scratch from your kids bike for the next 5 years knowing that you can’t fix it without tedious wet sanding and polishing. The other factor in the price is this is for professionals only. Coatings are not like a wax or sealant where if you mess up or leave it on to long it can be easily removed and fixed. Once you apply the coating you have less than a minute to get it evenly spread across the paint before it hardens. Any “high spots” or areas that are applied thicker than others will be visible once hard and can be difficult to fix. Ceramic coatings are not for everyone but if you have a new car, and you want to keep it looking new, this is certainly an option to consider if you have the cash.

Ceramic Waxes” and other “Ceramic sprays”: These products have recently flooded the market playing on the word “Ceramic” they boast how user friendly they are and how awesome they make your car look and by golly they are just the end to all of your car care problems right? Wrong.

Without naming names and talking about each product individually and turning this into a novel, let’s keep it simple. Yes these products have ceramic in them, yes they make water bead off of the paint really well and yes they will ad a lot of gloss and shine to your paint. No they are not anywhere near as good as a coating, no they will not resist scratches like a coating will, no they are not chemical resistant and despite what their ads say on social media about how they “build up a long lasting coating over time” they can be easily removed with a basic panel wipe solution, wheel cleaner, iron remover or basically anything more aggressive than a car wash solution…. I’ve done it. In conclusion, if you have the money for these products and you like the results and you understand the limitations of the products, by all means keep using them! There is nothing “wrong” with them, I just hate the way many companies mislead the general public about what these products do.

Longevity: 3 months MAX

Hardness: Soft

Cost: Less than $10

Longevity: 6-12 Months

Hardness: Soft

Cost: $20-$40 (depends on size)

Longevity: 4-6 Months

Hardness: Soft

Cost: $40-$120

Longevity: 2-9 YEARS

Hardness: Hard

Cost: varies

Here is a list of my favorite products with a brief explanation why.

Order Meguiars Xpress Wax Here

Meguiars Xpress Wax

This spray wax has a ton of different uses. Use it as a drying agent after a wash to prevent scratches while drying, use it as a clay bar lubricant if you’re claying, it can be used as a “quick detailer” to clean up bird droppings between full washes and more off label uses. It’s safe on paint, glass and plastic, very easy to use and very user friendly.

Order Chemical Guys Butter Wet Wax Here

Chemical Guys Butter Wet Wax

This liquid wax is easy to apply, doesn’t get all dusty as long as you don’t apply way too much and adds a very deep glow and shine to the paint. Since it is a wax, it doesn’t offer the same durability as a sealant but it works great for pleasure vehicles that are not constantly exposed to the rain and sun.

Order Chemical Guys M Seal Here

Chemical Guys M Seal

This sealant is really easy to use, offers more durability than a wax but does not quite have the same warm glow that some waxes have. It offers a lot of gloss though. I use this more on daily drivers that are obviously exposed to the elements pretty much every day.

Order Detail Juice Here
Order Juice Boost Here

Gary Deans Infinite Use Detail Juice and Juice Boost

These two combined are my “bread and butter” Mix the two and use it as a rinse less wash and you have washed and sealed your car in the same amount of time as it would take to wash and dry it. It last for up to 6 months in my tests and it just plain works. I use this as my car wash solution so I can offer top quality shine and protection without spending hours washing, drying, waxing and then sealing and buffing off the excess.

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