Do you consider waxing your surfboard a pain because you have to remove the old and apply the new periodically? Are you new to the sport and have no idea about the importance of surf wax?
A lot of surfers, whether newbies or intermediates overlook this highly important part of surfing and focus more of their attention on things like traction pads, fin templates, and surfboard shapes because they think that getting these right will help them shred. While these are important to get right, surf wax should never be neglected.
Why waxing your board is important
Surfboards are slippery, and surfing, an intense water-based activity, can definitely make it hard to stay stable on your board. A properly and strategically waxed board helps gain traction and provides the necessary grip between the board and your body and feet so that you don’t fall over.
If you want to master the sport and perform maneuvers that will leave other surfers impressed, the right surfboard wax is a must-have. This article will provide you with a thorough overview of the best waxes so that you can choose the one that works for you.
Surfboard wax ingredients
Surfboard wax has been commercially available since the 70s. Before that, people used to make do with candle wax or a primitive form of wax made from paraffin.
Nowadays, you’ll find most waxes made with hard waxes such as beeswax or paraffin, with petroleum jelly being an important ingredient if manufacturers wish to make their wax soft. In addition, different scents and flavors are used to make the wax appealing to the buyer.
If you are looking for natural waxes, you will find a lot of options in the store made from ingredients using beeswax, natural essential oils, pine resin, tree pulp, and oils like hemp or coconut oil.
How to choose the best one for you
To choose an ideal surf wax for you out of a wide array of options, you need to be able to judge your climate and water conditions.
Decipher the temperature of the water
Believe it or not, different waxes are ideal for different water temperatures, and manufacturers often mention on their packaging the temperature their wax is best suited for. For instance, hot water surfing requires the use of tropical wax. For warmer waters, you should use warm wax.
Why the difference, you may ask. Well, each water type reacts with your board differently. Water at different temperatures can penetrate more or less into your board which can then impact how slippery it can become.
Each type of wax will handle the surfboard pores differently, thereby making sure that your board is ideal for that specific water temperature.
Know your surfing frequency
The more you go surfing, the more your board interacts with the water and hence, the more wax you’ll need to use. Base wax is ideal if you’re surfing once or twice a week only, but you’ll need to apply an additional coat of the right type of wax for multiple sessions.
Consider the type of board you have
You should be familiar with the material your deck is made from. An epoxy or fiberglass board is best for cold waters since these materials are not too penetrable for water, soft boards, on the other hand, let water penetrate and hence can cause slipperiness in cold water.
Different types of surf wax for different water temperatures
1. Base wax
The most important of all waxes, base wax, is a must-have for all types of boards. While some boards and water temperatures will allow you to make do with only this type of wax, other conditions will necessitate another coating of a different type of wax on top of this base coat to enhance grip and allow you to have a smooth surfing session. Its use will depend on how often you surf.
The more you’re in the water, the more frequently you will have to apply it. With its sticky texture and easy application, novice surfers will have no difficulty handling it.
2. Tropical wax
If you surf in warm waters, you should use tropical wax. This is ideal for temperatures higher than 24 degrees Celsius. In these temperature conditions, the wax won’t melt and will provide a solid fix for your surfing needs.
The added advantage of this type of wax is that it is easy to apply and remove; therefore it will not consume a lot of your time.
3. Warm wax
If you prefer surfing in the summer, you would want to consider warm wax. The wax is ideal for water temperatures ranging from 17 to 25 degrees Celsius. The great advantage of this wax is that you can use it for tropical and warm conditions.
With its nice scent and easy application, you will be more than motivated to get into the water immediately.
4. Cool wax
This wax is ideal for water temperatures ranging from 12 to 20 degrees Celsius. You can keep it with you at all times if you live in a region that’s normally cold. Apply it either right before entering the water or keep applying it as long as your session continues.
3 Different methods for removing surfboard wax
At this point, you might consider choosing and applying the right kind of wax art. But keep in mind that while this is certainly the case, removing applied wax is also something you’ll be highly fascinated with once you get used to the idea.
Here are three methods to clean your surfboard, and you can choose any one that you prefer.
1. Using wax combs
An essential element and a must-have in your wax toolkit, a wax comb hits two birds with one stone. It helps keep the wax you’ve applied in good condition and is also used to remove old wax once it has achieved its purpose. Once the wax is scraped off, you can use a plain cloth to clean any residue left over. Keep at it until you have a shiny board.
2. Using a hair dryer
Once the wax is applied, it becomes stiff. One of the best methods to loosen this stiffness and hardness is to apply heat. For this, lay down your surfboard on a plane surface and use a hairdryer to apply hot air all across the board.
Remember that wax can heat up quickly, so once it has melted, you should wear gloves or over your hands with a thick cloth before wiping it off.
3. Using beach sand
Believe it or not, many surfers spread sand all over their surfboards once they are done surfing and want to get rid of old wax. Sand is an excellent wax cleaner since it helps to detach it from the board. You can let it stay on your board for several minutes before wiping it off.
What about a foam surfboard
If you use a foam surfboard, you don’t need to apply wax on it. Since they’re coated with EVA foam, they already have a good grip. However, if you still feel the need to wax it to ensure an excellent grip, you can go ahead and do it.
Difference between hard and soft wax
It’s not as sticky as soft wax, and its application can be more difficult. However, the upside is that this type of wax has great adhesion, due to which it can remain in place for several surfing sessions, thereby increasing stability.
This wax is stickier and applies with ease. However, you need to renew its application more frequently.
The best surf waxes in the market
1. Fu wax
Probably the best out there in terms of providing a strong grip; with Fu wax, you’ll remain standing where you are unless you intentionally move your feet around. If you’re a beginner and are worried about slipping, buy this without giving it a second thought.
The only downside is that you’ll regularly need to scrape off the old wax and apply a fresh coat regularly because It can’t be left on your board for too long. In addition, since it’s sticky, you need to apply it with care. If it gets stuck on your body or wetsuit, it will be difficult to get off.
2. S*x wax
If you’re put off by the smell of Fu wax, you can turn your attention to S*x wax. A brilliant product that’s sticky, and therefore, a one-time wax will last you for multiple surf sessions.
However, you need to take care of the proper storage of your board. If it gets too hot, it can ruin your coating. Refresh the coat periodically to keep your performance optimal.
3. Sticky bumps monkey wax
This wax is quite sticky, so you need to store it properly so that it doesn’t ruin your personal belongings. And while the stickiness is its strong suit, you will also be happy to know that this wax applies to your board very easily.
Additionally, you need less than many other waxes to cover the same area. Give it a try because you won’t be disappointed.
4. Bubble gum wax
The name probably reminds you of the sweet-smelling and tasty gums you used to have when you were a kid. Well, this surf wax is no different. It smells great, and with an easy application, you’ll certainly be content with your choice. It’s also sticky. But keep in mind that nothing beats Fu wax when it comes to optimal stickiness.
If you would rather fall into the camp of planet lovers who would do anything in their power to preserve our home and are attracted to products that are organic, YOU would want to try YEW!
It contains beeswax and natural ingredients and is also known for its easy application on just about any kind of surfboard. However, a downside is that it is not too sticky, so you might not get as strong of a grip as with some of the other waxes.
Two layered coating
Surf wax needs to be applied in two layers: a base coat and a top coat. The first layer or the base coat should be hard and sticky enough so that your top coat finish does not scrape off easily and lasts during multiple surf sessions.
Your base coat should ideally form bumps on the board to provide sufficient traction so that you remain stable while you show off your surfing skills to your pals.
To apply the top coat, use gentle hands and make sure to apply it in a circular fashion. A top coat helps make the base coat bumpier, but remember to not apply too much. Not only will you end up wasting a lot of wax, but it will also be counter-productive since more wax than necessary makes a surfboard lose traction.
A common misconception
You do not need to clean and reapply the wax every time you head out to surf. If you’ve done a brilliant job the first time, you are good to go for as long as you are able to maintain stability.
The moment you feel that you are slipping, you can get rid of the old coat and apply a new one. The good news is that as long as you choose the right wax for your climate and apply it well, it can last you for several surfing sessions.
You might think of waxing a surfboard as a tedious job, but if you’re in love with surfing and want to make the most of that experience, the time you spend applying the two coats on your surfboard will be a profitable investment. Always remember that nothing in life comes easy.
You will always have to give a little to obtain much more in return. Before you know it, you will become a connoisseur of surfboard wax.
Written by James Davis
I'm a true California local, and I've spent my life riding the waves along our stunning coastline. Surfing has always been my greatest love, and in my writing, I try to capture its genuine essence. My words aim to transport you into the heart of the surf culture, where the ocean and surfers come together in perfect harmony.
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