Can You Use Warm Surf Wax In Cold Water? (Fully Explained)

Choosing the right surf wax for current conditions takes experience and knowledge. Especially beginning surfers may have trouble with this at first. So can you use warm surf wax in cold water?

Warm water surf wax cannot be used in cold water. The warm water wax will become hard on your board if the temperature is too low. The hard layer of wax on your board will not provide any grip and will make your board slippery and dirty.

You now know it is not wise to use warm water wax for any other purpose. But what about cold water wax in warm water and tropical surf wax in cold water? You'll find out in this article!

What is The Difference Between Warm And Cold Surf Wax?

Before we can take a closer look at the consequences of applying the wrong wax type for the conditions, we must first examine the differences between warm and cold surf wax.

What makes cold wax suitable for lower temperatures and vice versa?

The main difference between the two lies in the structure of the wax. Warm water wax is very hard and difficult to apply to your board. While cold water surf wax, on the other hand, is very soft and mouldable, making it easier to apply.

This difference is due to a difference in chemical makeup between the two wax types.

The cold water wax uses a very soft base paraffin to prevent the wax from hardening up, while the warm water wax uses a harder base paraffin to prevent melting.

There is also a difference when it comes to natural oils and sticky agents, as cold water wax contains more oils and agents than warm water wax.

Generally, warm water wax requires less wax to be applied on your board to work properly. This is due to the before-mentioned difference in hardness, as the sticky and soft cold water wax will be used up rather quickly.

The relatively small amount of sticky agents and natural oils paired with the harder base paraffin causes the warm water surf wax to have a significantly higher melting point than the cold water wax.

This harder wax type is less sticky than the cold water wax, but due to the high temperatures, the wax becomes stickier and softer as you surf, as the wax melts just enough to provide you with the grip you need.

The story for cold water wax is entirely the opposite.

Cold water wax contains many natural oils and sticky agents combined with a soft and sticky base of paraffin, which leads to a soft and sticky surfboard wax with a low melting point.

Contrary to warm water wax, cold water wax tends to become a bit more slippery as the surf session goes on due to the low temperatures cooling down the wax.

When it comes to paraffin-free eco wax, there is also a difference between warm and cold water surf wax.

The warmer eco wax types rely on less sticky agents and natural oils, as there is no base paraffin to play with. This is why eco waxes can sometimes perform less than traditional wax in extreme temperatures.

Can Warm Water Surf Wax be Used in Cold Water?

Now that we know the major differences between warm water and cold water surf wax, it is finally time to get to the point of this article.

Can you use warm surf wax in cold water?

It is not possible to use warm water surf wax in cold water. The warm water surf wax is meant for higher temperatures. The wax will harden on your board when these temperatures are not met. This hard layer of wax won’t provide any grip and will simply make your board dirty and slippery.

As I explained earlier, the warm water wax needs high temperatures to remain sticky, allowing the wax to melt just enough to provide sufficient grip.

When the temperatures are too low for this, your board will feel like it has no wax applied to it at all.

This hardened-up wax layer can also be quite difficult to take off your board without the presence of an external heat source, so keep that in mind.

Can You Use Tropical Wax in Cold Water?

Besides regular warm water wax, another variant of wax is tropical wax. As the name suggests, this type of wax is meant to be used in extreme tropical temperatures with water temps exceeding 77 °F (25 ℃).

But what happens if you use tropical surf wax in cold water?

As you might expect, the exact same thing as we previously discussed on warm water surf wax happens, but worse.

Because tropical surf wax has more extreme properties than warm water surf wax, the hardening of the wax on the board is also worse.

This will leave you with an even more slippery board with an even larger layer of dirty wax to clean off!

What about the opposite, cold wax in warm water? The wax won’t harden in these high temperatures, so will that work?

The answer to that question is a hard no, as the wax will simply melt off the board due to the high temperatures, never to be seen again.

This not only creates an unwaxed and, therefore, slippery board, but it is also quite harmful to the environment to absorb a large amount of paraffin-based surf wax all at once.

(Click here to find out if surfboard wax is bad for the ocean)


All in all, applying warm water wax in cold conditions and vice versa doesn’t turn out to be a great idea.

The wax will either harden or melt completely off your board, both scenarios resulting in a totally unrideable and slippery board.

This is why choosing the right wax for the temperature is essential to a good surfing experience!

Marcus Campbell

Surfing is the biggest passion in my life. Transferring my knowledge about surfing to others is what I love doing most! I do this through my own surf school and through my articles on this website. This is how I hope to get everyone excited about this amazing sport!
August 17, 2022
Published: August 17, 2022