Surfboard wax – also commonly just called surf wax – is an essential part of any surfer’s toolkit.
What Is Surfboard Wax?
Surfboard wax is a synthetic wax, usually made up of paraffin, beeswax or other hard waves. Occasionally some will have jelly added to make a softer wax. Then of course scents and colours are added by manufacturers – which is obviously a marketing move.
Why Do Surfers Wax Their Boards?
The reason surfers wax their boards is basically to get a bit more grip. The extra grip can help keep the surfer stable when paddling out and also stop your feet from slipping when riding waves.
What Types Of Surfboard Wax Are There?
There are a few different types of surfboard wax you can get. Apart from colour, scent and brand, the essentials you need to know are basecoats, cold or cool water wax and warm water wax.
Basecoat wax is a harder wax which creates a bumpier texture. It is more weather and temperature resistant, so will not rub off as easily as your topcoat of wax. In fact it is extremely difficult to get it to rub off at all.
You might not need to touch it at all unless you’re cleaning your board completely to re-start from scratch!
We cover how to apply wax to a surfboard a bit further down on this article.
Then of course you have your wax topcoat, and you need to make sure you get the appropriate topcoat wax for the temperature you’ll be surfing in. A surf wax made for warm water will have a higher melt temperature, so that it doesn’t soften under your feet or in the water.
Wax made for cold or cooler water will have a lower temperature.
Although you should try to get the right wax for the temperature you surf in, generally you can get away with using warm water wax in cool temperatures, but not the other way around.
How To Make Surf Wax
It’s actually pretty easy to make your own surf wax. Surfboard wax is pretty cheap so I’m not entirely sure why you would want to make your own but we have this guide here for you just in case you do.
The ingredients to match commercially made surf wax aren’t always as easy to find, but we have a pretty good recipe for you of completely organic surf wax.
All you need are beeswax, coconut oil or some other fragrant oil, any other fragrances or colours you want to add, and a bit of tree sap if you’re making cold water wax.
All you do is melt about 1kg of beeswax, add 300g coconut oil and if you’re making cold water wax, about 200-300g of tree sap. You want cold water wax a little bit runnier so that it doesn’t completely freeze and flake off in cold temperatures.
Tree Sap (Or Resin)
How To Apply Wax To A Surfboard
All you’ll need is your basecoat wax, temperature-appropriate topcoat wax, and a wax comb.
For this part of the tutorial we’re assuming you have a completely clean surfboard.
If you have bits of old wax still on your board, you’ll also need to remove the wax before you start for a good even wax layer – we cover removing wax from a surfboard in the next section.
Step 1: Apply Your Basecoat Wax
The basecoat, as mentioned above is to give your board the initial grippy texture you want. Basecoat wax is firm and quite tricky to remove so it is highly recommended so you don’t have to spend your day constantly re-waxing your board.
You do need to push down quite hard to get it to rub off and stick to your board as it is quite firm. As you are rubbing it along your board, if you can start to hear a sort of scraping sound or it starts to feel a little bit bumpy then it’s working.
There is no set pattern or rules for applying your wax – just go with whatever works for you to get a good even coat.
Step 2: Apply Your Topcoat
Because the topcoat is softer than the basecoat, it can stick to your feet – which is basically where you grip will come from.
It will start to flake off – you’ll probably get quite a lot of it on your wetsuit – and you might need to reapply it. You’ll definitely need to apply a new topcoat for each of your surf trips at the very least anyway.
Step 3: Maintenance After You’re Done Surfing
You will have used quite a bit of wax and it will have gone in the water, on your wetsuit, in your hair. Your basecoat will probably still be in tact though.
You’ll need to apply some more wax next time you go surfing.
The other thing to note is that some of the wax may have gotten squished or flattened during the day, giving you a bit of a smoother surface – which of course defeats the point of having wax in the first place.
To rectify this, you just need to take a wax comb and go over the flat bits in a zig zag pattern with the pointy end of your comb.
How To Remove Surfboard Wax
I am going to cheat a little bit and refer you back to the last article I wrote on how to remove wax from your surfboard.
In short though, there are a few different ways you can do it but the simplest, quickest and easiest is to use a Pickle.
The Pickle is a great all-round solution to removing wax and I would recommend every surfer carries one.
Best Surfboard Wax
That is a tough question as they are all pretty much the same. It basically comes down to your own personal choice, which works best for you, and if there’s any particular scents you like.
I am personally a fan of Sticky Bumps so I will include my recommended ones below, based on that.