Why You Want to Scrub the Wax Off Your Fruit (Even If It’s “Food Safe”)

After the application of dye, fruit may be coated in a fine layer of wax or paraffin so that it won’t decay as quickly on the store shelf. There are many types of wax that are considered food grade and safe to eat. Conventional produce manufacturers apply petroleum-based wax to the fruit while organic suppliers apply beeswax or other natural waxes such as carnauba wax or shellac. Regardless of which type of wax is applied, pesticide residues can adhere to the wax layer.

Using a fruit and vegetable wash soap will help wash off the wax so that more of the pesticide can be removed. Dish soaps, bleach, and other potentially toxic cleaners should not be used when cleaning fruits and vegetables because they can become absorbed by the pores of the fruit and themselves become contaminants. Unfortunately, no method, not even peeling, is 100% effective for removing all pesticide residues.

Wax is used most commonly in cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, potatoes, apples, lemons, oranges, and limes. All of these fruits and vegetables should be washed with a fruit and vegetable spray. If you garnish drinks with citrus wedges or cook with the zest or skins, be sure to wash these fruits too, regardless of whether or not they are organic.

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