Surfboard wax (also known as surfwax) is a formulation of natural and/or synthetic wax for application to the deck of a surfboard, bodyboard or skimboard, to keep the surfer from slipping off the board when paddling out or riding a wave. It is also used to increase grip on the paddle of a surf kayak or dragon boat.
Surfboard wax is generally composed of a mixture of Paraffin wax, beeswax or other hard waxes, petroleum jelly can also be added to create a softer wax. Often exotic scents like coconut or bubblegum are added to give the wax an attractive scent. There are also natural alternatives available containing only organic substances like beeswax, vegetable oils (such as coconut or hemp oil), pine resin, tree pulp and natural essential oils. Many different commercial brands and varieties of surfboard wax optimized for different climates and water temperatures may be found at a surf shop.
Early on in the history of surfing, believe it or not, surfers made do with candle wax. As you can imagine this was very messy and time consuming. Later on paraffin canning wax was used instead. To add extra traction or grip, sand was often added by the surfers.
By the time the Beach Boys started celebrating the surf culture in the 1960′s it had been discovered that the addition of oils to the paraffin would allow for a softer surf wax that was easier to apply. Better still, this composition allowed surfers to create bumps in their surfboard wax, which really added to the traction for their feet.
After this came the invention of softer surf waxes that were more like bees wax. Hot on the heels of this, and still in the 60′s, came the addition of fragrances and colours.
Nowadays, surfboard waxes are still available in a plethora of colours, fragrances and names. Today’s surf wax is usually a combination of paraffin, with varying amounts of resins, alcohol, and tackifying agents, all designed to add specific amounts of traction for various water temperatures.
These types of surfboard waxes of today now have a consistency similar to a soft putty.
As more and more surfers are becoming environmentally conscious and green, different types of organic surf wax and biodegradable surfboard wax are also now available.
Surfboard wax is applied by first putting a basecoat onto the clean board. This harder basecoat forms a bump pattern on the surfboard which the surfer will then stick to. The basecoat is then topped with a top coat of wax of an appropriate temperature.
There are a few techniques that can be used to apply the wax to a surfboard, from rubbing small circles to making diagonal lines. There is little difference in the end result, the application a surfer uses simply depends on preference.
One important thing to remember is that there are different types of surfboard wax depending on what part of the globe you are surfing in. This is because different water temperatures will require different surf wax formulations.
Most surfboard wax comes labeled with a water temperature range for which it is ideal. Wax used in water colder than its rating will become hard and not provide the stickiness needed to stay on the board, while wax used in water warmer than its rating may melt.
Some surfers layer different temperatures of wax to create the level of firmness and stickiness desired.
The normal procedure is to lay down a thin base coat of a high temperature wax, usually labeled for tropical water, to build up bumps and texture. This will not melt off. Then a layer of temperature-appropriate wax or sticky wax is applied on top of that. This ensures that, as one changes the wax for different temperatures, the cold water wax will not come into contact with the board directly. However some waxes are designed to work in all water conditions and have the ability to remain on the board at any temperature.
Basecoat surfboard wax is a special undercoat that is used under the other types of surf wax. So when you get a new surfboard, or strip all the old wax off your current board, the first thing you are going to apply is some base wax. The basecoat will help the surfboard wax stick to your board better, and will also make it an easier task to apply.
Cold Water Surf Wax
Cold water for most surfing wax companies is defined as under 15° C, or under 60° F. Also as a general rule the colder the water, the more wax you will have to apply.
Cool Water Surf Wax
This type of surfboard wax falls into the temperature range of 14-19° C, or 58-68° F. This type of surf wax contains lower melting paraffins and more softeners.
Warm Water Surf Wax
Oh surfing in warm water! This is always very pleasant and requires a unique surf wax formula for water temperatures of 19-23° C, or 66-78° F. These surfboard waxes contain harder base paraffins thus increasing the melting temperature of the surfing wax. The waxes also contain less softener and also less tackifying agents.
Tropical Water Surf Wax
This type of surfboard wax is for very balmy 23+° C, or greater than 75° F water temperature. In very warm water, you will be able to get away with rubbing on less wax.
There are two methods that surfers use to maintain their wax. Usually a wax comb is used to maintain the grip of the wax. Usually, the comb is used to engrave a cross-cut pattern into the wax to create a tackier surface.
Removing the wax can be time consuming, or can take just a couple minutes. A plastic scraper (typically found on the back of a wax comb) can be used to remove the wax in large chunks. Residual wax that has not been removed by scraping can be dealt with using a soft cloth, either on its own or in combination with (for example) coconut oil. Various commercial solvents are also available. Solvents, however, are usually avoided as they can damage the surface or paintjob of the board.
Another method that many surfers prefer is to let their board lie in the sun with the deck side up. After about ten minutes, beach sand is spread onto the melted wax and the sand is then rubbed. This method enables surfers to take all the wax off at once. The board is then left smooth and ready to be stored away or to be re-waxed. A surfer can also use a wax comb to scrape or comb the wax off the board.
Popular Brands Of Surfboard Wax
Mr Zogs Sex Wax
Mr Zogs surf wax was first made in 1972 in California, and became extremely famous for their slogan – “The best for your stick”.
Surfers also love the fact that it’s called Sex Wax!
Mrs Palmers Surfboard Wax
Mrs Palmers Surfboard WaxMrs Palmers was started in 1988, in Australia. Through the years they have had many sexually implied surf wax names such as 5 Daughters and Mighty Mounds.
Sticky Bumps Surf Wax
Sticky Bumps is a US based surfboard wax and accessories company that revolutionised the surf wax industry by moving away from paraffin bases and also sells other products such as traction pads for added traction.