What is the best surfboard wax? Before I answer this question, I will cover the topics:
- Who created surfboard wax and what made surfers decide to use wax?
- What is the purpose of surfboard wax and the different types of wax?
- How to apply surfboard wax, how often should it be applied and where should I put it?
- Why and how to remove surfboard wax?
- Major manufacturers of surfboard wax and their history.
- Alternatives to surfboard wax.
No one is credited with the creation of surfboard wax nor is there any answer as to why surfers decided to use wax in the first place. The first surfboard wax was wax from a candle and later paraffin wax was used and is still used by some companies today.
No one can say what light bulb went off in whose head, and came up with the idea that wax would be a great compound to use on the deck/top of a surfboard.
The deck or top of a surfboard is slippery, foam boards and soft top boards are the exception, and surfboard wax, when applied, will be provide a non-slip, tacky coating. Without this tacky/sticky surface you would find your hands slipping of the board as you prepare to pop-up or your feet would slip off as you stand up.
Surfboard wax is made for different temperatures, comes in a base coat and is either eco-friendly or not.
The difference between cold, cool, warm, and tropical surf wax is the hardness. As the water temperature increases surf wax tends to break down and gets softer, so you need a harder wax to withstand the temperature, otherwise the wax would melt off your board.
As the water temperature decreases the wax tends to get harder and can get slick so you need a wax that is soft and will stay soft and not get hard in cold water. So with that in mind, tropical and warm water wax are harder waxes than cool and cold water waxes, Tropical being the hardest wax and cold being the softest wax.
Base Coat is basically a super hard wax that usually does not have any tack to it. It is applied before applying a sticky wax or top coat wax and makes applying the sticky wax easier and makes the top coat last longer.
Because of the move towards eco-friendly products, surfboard wax has also followed this trend and is now non-toxic, biodegradable and all natural.
Surfboard wax that contain crude oil or petrochemical by-product are not considered eco-friendly because it is a non-renewable resource. There is potential for environmental damage in extracting and transporting oil. Energy is required to extract, transport and refine the oil. If allowed to biodegrade, these waxes will release carbon dioxide that was previously sequestered.
Surfboard wax that contain genetically modified products are also not considered eco-friendly nor are waxes that contain palm oil.
The palm oil industry is linked to major issues such as deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuses in the countries where it is produced, as the land and forests must be cleared for the development of the oil palm plantations.
Wipe On, Wipe Off
When applying surfboard wax to the deck of the board you can use the following techniques:
- Circular – applying the wax in a circular motion.
- Up and down (vertical) – applying the wax in an up and down motion.
- Side to side (horizontal) – applying the wax in a side to side motion.
- Crisscross – applying the wax in a crisscross motion.
Whether you apply the surfboard wax in a circular, up and down, side to side, crisscross or a combination of those techniques, it really doesn’t matter. What does matter, is that you apply wax until it starts to build little oblong or circular bumps on the top of the surfboard.
You should wax your board every time you intend to go surfing. It really sucks, when you’re surfing and you find yourself slipping off your board because you did not wax or did not apply enough wax. So don’t be shy, wax away.
You should apply surfboard wax to all portions of the deck/top of the board that your feet and hands will contact while surfing. Do not put wax on the bottom of your board, it is not needed and could actually provide water resistance.
Why? I Just Waxed My Board
You should remove the wax from your board if you intend to sell it or store it for an extend period of time. You should also remove the wax when it starts to get dirty or loses its effectiveness (it’s no longer sticky).
Wax melts in the sun and sticks to practically any surface. Removing wax is a messy process. I prefer to remove wax when it has not been affected by the sun. There are products made specifically for the removal of surfboard wax and they include:
- Citrus-based liquid wax remover
- A product called the Pickle
Follow these steps to remove the wax from your surfboard:
- Using a comb, scraper or similar tool, start scraping the surfboard with the sharp edge of your wax remover. Create a pattern; from tail to nose or from rail to rail.
- Once the majority of the wax has been removed, using the wax removal tool, you will either use the citrus-based liquid wax remover or the Pickle to remove any remaining wax. Either way, you will need to wipe off the entire deck of your board with fresh water and then towel dry.
If you are removing the wax on your board because it is dirty or ineffective, you only need to scrape the wax off using the comb, scraper or similar tool. Once this process is complete, you can re-wax your board.
Who Makes It?
There are many makers of surfboard wax and they all offer:
- Eco-friendly wax
- Base coat wax
- Wax for different temperatures
I will cover some of the better known makers:
Sticky Bumps – “Wax Research founder John Dahl. For over 45 years, Dahl and his family have been on the crest of wax science. A pioneer in the purest sense, he began experimenting with wax formulas in the late 60’s and started Wax Research in 1971.” Is family owned and operated and started operation in 1971 in Del Mar, California. They not only sell surfboard wax but offers a wide selection of surf related products.
SexWax – “In the early 1970’s, Zog was shaping boards and running a small surf shop in Goleta, California. As fate would have, a chemist named Nate Skinner worked in a building next to Zog’s shop. Zog and Nate got to talking and decided that with Nate’s scientific training and Zog’s surfing background, they were the perfect pair to develop a unique, high-performance surfboard wax.
SexWax, also offers a wide selection of surf related products.
Bubble Gum – “Back in the summer of 1984 in a sun-bathed kitchen in Leucadia, California, Britt Galland, just two years out of San Dieguito High School, along with his brother Grant, invented Bubble Gum Surf Wax.”
Bubble Gum, also offers a wide selection of surf related products.
Is That It?
There are products out there that offer a no wax alternative, besides your foam or soft top surfboards. There used to be a spray-on alternative, once sprayed on, the spray would leave a coating that was similar to the feel of sandpaper and was especially hard on your skin.
There are several companies, VersaTraction and Surfco to name a view, that offer a wax alternative that uses a peel-and-stick application. I can personally attest to the effectiveness of both products, though VersaTraction is harsher on the skin and is slippery on clothing.
The answer to: “what is the best surfboard wax”, comes down to personal preference. Since all wax companies basically offer what their competitor’s offers, except with a different formula, what you like to use, answers the question: “what is the best surfboard wax.”
Click here to read my review of the Stick Bumps surfboard wax.
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