Surfers apply a special kind of wax to their surfboard, which gives them more grip with their feet. Without this wax, it is very difficult to stay on your board. Does this mean that surfboard wax is sticky?
Surfboard wax is very sticky. Stickiness is the most important property of surf wax. This ensures that surfers have more grip on their board. Paraffin is the main substance that gives surf wax its sticky property. In eco-friendly surf wax, beeswax or soy wax is used to give the wax its sticky property.
In the remainder of this article, you'll find out exactly what makes surf wax sticky, whether all waxes are equally sticky, and how to make your wax extra sticky. So read on to get answers to all these questions!
Surf wax is a sticky substance used by surfers to stick to their boards when they’re riding the waves. Surfboards, especially the harder ones made using epoxy and fiberglass, can be incredibly slippery when wet.
This is, of course, a suboptimal situation for surfers, as we want our boards to be sticky when we ride the waves. A sticky board allows surfers to do the crazy maneuvers that they do.
The secret to a sticky board is, of course, wax. Therefore, a good bar of surf wax must ideally be as sticky as possible to obtain the best performance.
The fact that surfboard wax must be sticky is an exception to the use of wax in other board sports, such as skating or snowboarding, where the purpose of the wax is to smooth a surface so that the board can get over it faster.
Hence the common misconception that surf wax is slippery.
Surf wax, contrary to other sports, is very sticky and must be applied to the top of a surfboard.
There are many different types of wax, each with a different level of stickiness, but more about that later. Let’s now continue by looking at the chemical makeup of the wax to discover what makes it sticky!
We now know that surfboard wax is a very sticky substance, but what is causing that?
In short, the obvious answer would be the paraffin used to make the wax. Paraffin is a by-product of petroleum refinement, and with the right treatment, paraffin becomes an incredibly sticky substance, hence the use in surf wax.
Paraffin is the main functional ingredient in surf wax to make it sticky; all the other ingredients, such as natural oils, are primarily used to control the hardness of the wax to make it suitable for various temperature ranges.
As you might imagine, surf wax is not great for the oceanic environment and your health because of the use of paraffin, a petroleum-based product.
That’s why eco wax has been developed; this is surf wax that does not contain paraffin to preserve the environment. But what makes these waxes sticky?
Eco brands of wax often use natural sticky substances such as bee wax or soy wax as a replacement for paraffin in their surf wax.
The performance of these eco waxes is very similar to that of paraffin-based waxes, making it an easy choice when it comes to saving the environment.
We now know surf wax is sticky and why it is this way. But wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way for us to make our wax even more sticky to get even better performance?
Let’s take a closer look at making your surf wax extra sticky.
Unfortunately, there is no chemical trick you can do to make your wax stickier. There is, however, a trick you can use when applying your wax to ensure an optimally sticky wax job.
People tend to apply wax in a very careless manner, and this actually harms how sticky your surf wax will be.
The proper way to apply wax goes as follows:
Start with a base coat; this is generally a harder type of wax that requires a little more force to apply. Use a criss-cross pattern of this basecoat and apply it to the portion of your board you want to be waxed.
This may take some time, as you’ll want to lay down a solid foundation for your wax.
After the base coat, it is time for the topcoat; you’ll want to apply this before every surf session. The topcoat is a softer type of wax, and contrary to the base coat, we will now use small circles to wax over the base coat.
This layering system with these patterns is one of many ways to apply wax in the stickiest manner.
Be sure to use a consistent system when applying your wax, as randomly scraping will decrease its performance drastically.
Different wax brands, of course, have different manufacturing processes, resulting in a slight difference in stickiness between all major brands.
This difference, however, is incredibly marginal, and unless you’re a professional surfer, you’ll likely not notice the difference between different wax brands.
One difference you definitely will notice is waxes for different water temperatures.
Wax melts when temperatures are high and lose its sticky properties when temperatures are too cold. Manufacturers create different wax types for different temperature ranges to combat this problem.
Warmer temperatures require harder wax to prevent melting, while colder temperatures require softer wax to remain sticky.
If you use wax outside the designated temperature window, you’ll find a drastic loss of performance.
All in all, surf wax is meant to be a sticky substance as its primary function is to make the surfer stick to the surfboard. Paraffin or natural alternatives such as bee or soy wax make the wax sticky.
Applying the wax to your board properly has a massive impact on the stickiness of your wax. Different temperatures require different types of wax to remain sticky.
I hope this answers all your questions on the stickiness of surf wax!