Natural waxes are produced by plants and animals, although their exact chemical composition depends on both the species and geographic location of the organism. Waxes can also be derived from mineral deposits or refined from petroleum
Natural waxes are chemically defined as an ester with a very long hydrocarbon chain that also includes a long chain alcohol. However, waxes can also contain chemical structures such as wax esters, sterol esters, alcohols, aldehydes, hydrocarbons, ketones and sterols.
Plants secrete waxes containing a mix of unesterified hydrocarbons and esters onto the surface of their cuticles as a way to control hydration and evaporation. 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 and aldehydes.
Waxes produced by animals typically consist of wax esters derived from a variety of carboxylic acids and fatty alcohols.
Waxes are malleable solids near ambient temperatures but typically melt into low viscosity liquids at temperatures above 40 °C (104 °F). However, some waxes have a higher melting point, such as Beeswax at 62-65 °C. Waxes are hydrophobic and insoluble in water but dissolve in organic, nonpolar solvents.