If you’ve just bought a new surfboard, the last thing you want to do is smear some gunky wax all over it and “ruin” its gleaming, smooth surface. But, unless you bought the board solely for display purposes, you’ll have to do precisely that.
So, why do you wax a surfboard? Is it really necessary to smear its smooth surface with wax? Yes, it is essential to wax your surfboard. A surfboard isn’t all you need in surfing but waves and wax, too. The wax on your board determines whether you have a good session or a bad one.
Read along to understand the need to wax your surfboard. This article explains everything about the wax’s relation to your surfboard and what it does to your performance.
Table of Contents
Why Do You Wax A Surfboard?
When wet, surfboards are slippery. The most significant way to ensure that you don’t slip off your board in varied water temperatures is to apply wax to your board. The texture of a soft top’s deck changes when exposed to cold and warm water.
Applying a layer of wax to your board can help you maintain a higher level of traction in all conditions. In short, nothing holds you to the board save a small layer of wax for grip.
How Is A Wax For Surfboard Made?
Paraffin, beeswax, and other hard waxes are used to make surf wax. Every company has its own top-secret, sticky formula. Because the major component – paraffin – is produced from oil, which is not the most environmentally friendly product, natural substitutes such as beeswax, vegetable oils, pine resin, soy, and others are now being employed.
Are There Different Types of Wax For Different Temperatures?
Yes. Waxes naturally tend to become soft at higher temperatures and hard at lower temperatures. That is why different waxes are required for different temperatures. Each wax has the perfect hardness/tackiness point at a different temperature range.
A higher-temperature surf wax is required for surfers who live in more tropical locations (such as Hawaii or Australia). In different environments, surf wax is necessary for individuals surfing in cooler climes. Let’s have a look at the various temperatures so you’ll be prepared when the time comes.
Cold Water Wax
If you plan on surfing in temps of 60 degrees or lower (don’t forget to wear a wetsuit), cold-water wax is recommended. This is meant to keep your board in the best possible condition, even when the weather drops below freezing.
Keep this wax in a cool, dry place to prevent it from melting in hot weather. It’s also vital to avoid using it in hotter or tropical locations because it won’t be able to endure the heat.
The majority of surf brands provide their popular selections in various temperatures. This implies you won’t have to swap brands to get a good product at a different temperature.
If you live in a colder climate, your local store will most likely have the right product; similarly, if you live in a tropical environment, you’ll most likely discover tropical and warm wax.
Cool Water Wax
Cool surf wax is suitable for water temperatures ranging from 58 to 68 degrees. Cool Water Wax mixtures perform well in cooler conditions to retain grip and traction, but they won’t hold up as well when the weather warms up.
Warm Water Wax
Warm water wax is required for water temperatures ranging from 58 to 75 degrees. Because these are less resistant to high temperatures, following the manufacturer’s instructions is critical for maximum board traction.
Tropical Water Wax
If you plan on surfing in waters that are 75 degrees or above, you’ll need a tropical surf wax to preserve your board traction. These are made to resist higher temperatures, so they won’t melt when it becomes too hot outside or when exposed to direct sunshine.
In addition, these temperatures are often more challenging to work with than other wax temperatures.
Knowing when and how to apply surf wax is critical to a successful surfing session. For starters, if you don’t apply enough wax, staying upright on your board will be tough, if not impossible. This is especially critical for newcomers who are still learning the ropes.
On the other hand, putting too much wax on your board can make it overly slippery. This is essentially a waste of wax because you’ll be right back where you started—except with a dirty board to clean.
When To Apply Surf Wax
“One board, one wax job,” as the saying goes, which sounds fantastic but in practice probably means getting a new quiver of boards every few months, which we think you don’t.
The majority of surfers like to wax their surfboards before each session. Obviously, this will build up to a thick, heavy, grey layer of ungrippy wax that will need to be replaced over time.
Whether you have OCD or not, the frequency with which you wax your surfboard will vary, but in general, de-waxing with the change of the seasons (4 times per year) or every time you go on a surf trip should be enough.
It’s also worth considering whether a fast combing with a wax comb is preferable to apply more wax.
How Far Forward Should You Wax A Surfboard?
To catch the front foot on those frontside fin chuck/tail blasts, surfers like John John Florence wax almost all the way to the nose.
You won’t be doing many of those in a typical session, but you could want to get forward into small tubes. It’s better to have the wax all the way up to the nose and not need it than to be slipping and sliding away if you need it.
Choosing The Best Surf Wax
Aside from water temperature, there are a few things you should consider in picking the best surf wax. Here’s all you need to know about surf waxes if you’ve mixed up your base and top coats and don’t know where to start!
Basecoat vs. Topcoat Wax
The base coat is a wax layer applied first to your board. The wax for the base coat is tougher and less sticky than the wax for the top layer. It will also last longer, as a single application will endure multiple surf outings.
It’s a good idea to start with a base coat wax, which will help your topcoat last longer. The base coat clings to your board and aids in the adhesion of your top layer. However, the base coat is optional, so you can skip it if you wish. Just keep in mind that if you do this, you’ll have more opportunities to re-wax your board after you get out of the water.
Topcoat wax is usually stickier and softer than basecoat wax, making it easier to apply. You won’t have to work as hard as you did with the base coat, but it will require more frequent application throughout the day.
Traditional vs. Sticky Wax
Two types of wax are readily available. Traditional wax is hard, and when you apply it to your board, you’ll end up with little lumps of wax that create fantastic traction.
On the other hand, sticky wax keeps you on your board by being sticky! It may seem self-evident, yet it works. The only disadvantage of sticky wax is that it coats your feet.
Toxic vs. Non-Toxic Wax
Some of the less popular surf wax products include potentially dangerous chemical compounds. Not only are these chemicals harmful to your board, but they can also hurt sea animals and damage coral if they get into the ocean. When surfing, you don’t want harsh chemicals on your feet all day.
You’ll be happy to learn that some of the most outstanding surf wax companies have developed environmentally friendly surf wax formulas. They’ve designed waxes that are powerful but gentle on sea creatures by employing natural, organic materials.
Many discussions have been focused on this problem because of climate change and global warming, so you can consider that while making your purchase.
Surf wax is a wise investment for any surfer. But, it’s critical to select a quality surf wax that works for you, no matter how experienced you are in the sport. It is entirely up to you and a matter of personal preference whether you use a traction pad or wax.
Once you’ve selected a wax that meets your requirements, it’s critical to ensure that you’re applying and removing it correctly. Only when your board is maintained correctly can you surf safely and adequately?
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: Should you wax foamies?
A: A soft board shouldn’t need to be waxed, especially if it’s brand new. It’s best to try it out without the wax first to see how you like it, as most foamies have some form of traction, and wearing boots can assist a lot. The primary reason for this is that wax may be challenging to remove from a foamie, and if you load it on and leave it, it can get very unpleasant! If your foamie is slick, you may use a traction pad or add a thin layer of wax — you won’t need half as much as you would on a hardboard.
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G’day, my name is Rach Taylor and I’m the proud Founder of Surf Hungry. I am a former Australian Olympic athlete and Australian representative surf sports athlete. I’ve worked in the surf industry and lived at many of Australia’s best surf spots, sparking a life-long love of the ocean and a passion for surf sports which also rubbed off on my two young sons! I am also lucky to spend a lot of ocean-time in my favorite second home, Indonesia. In addition to SurfHungry I have founded several other websites in my areas of passion, namely coffee and rock climbing, and am also a regular rowing content contributor.