Why Do They Put Wax On Apples? Is it Safe to Eat?

Wax on apples

Apples are coated with wax to replace the natural wax lost during harvesting and processing, helping to protect them and maintain freshness. The general consensus is that wax on apples is safe to eat, as it is edible and passes through the body without being absorbed. Many health advocates though find hard to believe that a wax made from oil with over 50 chemicals in it, is safe for consumption.

Apples are a tasty and healthy snack that many of us enjoy. But have you ever noticed that apples from the grocery store sometimes feel a bit waxy?

Let’s find out why the put wax on apples and if it’s okay to eat that wax.

Why do they put wax on apples?

When apples grow, they naturally produce a thin layer of wax on their skin. This wax helps to protect the apple from germs trying to get in and keep it fresh for a longer period of time.

However, during the process of harvesting, washing to get rid of dirt and any chemicals that might be on them, and transporting, a lot of this natural wax gets rubbed off.

To replace the lost natural wax, food producers often apply a thin (about 3 mg) coating of edible wax to the apples. It is usually made from different things like sugar cane, beeswax, Candelia wax, carnauba wax and food grade shellac from the Indian lac bug.

Sugar Cane WaxDerived from the residue left after the extraction of juice from the sugar cane plant. [1]
BeeswaxProduced by honey bees, primarily sourced from the honeycomb which the bees produce from their own bodies. [2]
Candelilla WaxDerived from the leaves of the Candelilla shrub native to northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. [3]
Carnauba WaxObtained from the leaves of the Carnauba palm native to northeastern Brazilian states.[4]
Food Grade ShellacA resin secreted by the female lac bug on trees in the forests of India and Thailand. [5]

Please note that these waxes undergo further processing before they are used in food or other products.

This artificial wax serves a similar purpose as the natural wax – it helps to seal in moisture, keep germs out and prevent the apple from drying out too quickly.

The wax coating also creates a shiny appearance on the apples, which makes them look more appealing to shoppers in the grocery store.

Additionally, the wax can help to prevent bruising and damage to the apples during shipping and handling.

While the wax used is considered safe for consumption, some people prefer to remove it before eating the apples.

The wax coating is not necessary for the apple’s safety or nutrition, but it does help to extend the apple’s shelf life and maintain its fresh appearance.

Is it safe to eat the wax coating on apples?

Yes, the wax on apples is safe to eat – according to various online sources and “fact checking websites” like Snopes, McGill University, Cancer FactFinder, Afp FactCheck.

They also say that there’s no proof that eating wax on fruits and vegetables, like apples, can cause cancer – if that was among your concerns.

They continue by saying that it’s not something that our bodies can digest, which means it just goes through our stomach and intestines and comes out the other end without being absorbed.

But, I have my concerns (considering the myriad lies the food and drug industry has told us up until now)..

Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that the wax used on apples is okay to eat – they do force food producers to declare the fact that wax has been applied on the label (of fruits and vegetables) when in package.

I mean, why should they do that if wax on apples is 100% safe?

Furthermore, an article by McGill University’s Office for Science and Society which claims to “Separate Sense from Nonsense writes and I quote:

The wax is a mixture of up to fifty different compounds, most of which fall into the chemical category known as esters. There are also alcohols like heptacosanol and malol as well as hydrocarbons such as triacontane, C30H62. This compound can also be isolated from petroleum and is sometimes applied to fruit to supplement its natural wax

It continues by saying that ..

There are also some synthetic esters made by combining sucrose with fatty acids. Polyethylene, the same plastic used to make disposable shopping bags can also be applied in a very thin layer.


A trace of an emulsifier morpholine oleate is added to allow the wax to be spread in a thin layer. Some concerns have been raised that the wax seals in pesticide residues that cannot be removed by washing but studies have shown that the prior washing removes most traces of pesticide residues.

Now, I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist or something, but all these chemicals make me worry..

Shouldn’t I?

So, here’s what I’ve found:

  • Heptacosanol and malol: These are alcohols that help keep the fruit fresh.
  • Hydrocarbons like triacontane: This substance can also be found in petroleum and is sometimes added to the wax coating to make it thicker.
  • Synthetic esters: These are made by mixing acids and alcohols together. They help the wax spread evenly over the fruit.
  • Polyethylene: This plastic material is added to the wax to make it stick better to the fruit.
  • Emulsifiers like morpholine oleate: This helps the wax mix with water, which is needed during the washing process.

How can I fully remove the wax coating from apples?

Even though “fact checkers” and.. others.. say that the wax is safe, you might still want to take it off before eating an apple.

According to this WikiHow post, there are four simple ways to remove the wax coating from apples. My personal favorite is number 3 – the soda method.

  1. Dip apples in boiling water: Fill a large pot with water and heat it until it boils. Put the apples in the boiling water for a few seconds, then take them out and put them on a clean towel.
  2. Wash apples with vinegar: Fill a sink or a large bowl with cold water. Add 1–2 cups of plain white vinegar. Soak your apples in this mixture for 5-10 minutes. Then, rinse the apples thoroughly with clean water.
  3. Soak them in baking soda and water: Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 2 cups of water. Soak your apples in this solution for 15 minutes. Then, rinse the apples with clean water.
  4. Rinse apples with salt water: Mix 1 teaspoon of salt in about 1 gallon of water. Add your apples to this salt water solution.


After reading through all the details about the wax coating on apples, I’m a little undecided on whether I want to keep eating it or not.

On one hand, the sources say the wax is safe to consume and gets digested without being absorbed by our bodies.

But on the other hand, seeing all those chemical names like esters, alcohols, hydrocarbons, and emulsifiers makes me a bit worried about what I might be putting into my body.

The food industry hasn’t always been fully honest with us in the past. However, the good news is that if I do want to remove the wax, there are some simple methods like soaking the apples in vinegar, baking soda, or salt water.

For now, I think I’ll try taking the wax off just to be on the safer side. An apple is still an apple, with or without the wax coating, and it’s a healthy snack that I enjoy eating.

What do you think? Leave your comment below and let’s start a conversation.


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