Guide to Surfboard Wax

Research received from Surfing Australia estimates there are 2.7 million recreational surfers across Australia. So as a starting point, if every one of these surfers bought one block of 100 gram wax every year that would add up to a hell of a lot of the stuff. But with many surfers going through a block of wax every couple of weeks, this figure is likely to be much higher.

“So what’s the problem?” you ask. Well standard surfboard wax is pretty much a solid bar of paraffin and petrochemicals; by-products of crude oil. In fact in the early days of making wax specifically for surfboards in the 1960s, many of the leading Australian brands were actually made & marketed by petrol companies such as Ampol, Golden Fleece, ESSO and BP.

Standard wax’s sticky properties derive from synthetic resins and glues, and even the often-used fragrances come from chemicals like acetates, benzene derivatives, solvents and aldehydes all cooked up in laboratories. A lovely little toxic mix which eventually makes its way into the environment in one way or another! Let alone the wrapping.

The good news is there are now a growing number of natural, sustainable and/or biodegradable surf waxes becoming available, or at least products that greatly reduce the amount of nasties in their ingredients according to their makers.

Surf Organic, Bees Knees and Matunas are a few of the brands available locally that promote their waxes as having various environmentally friendly qualities, and can be bought at selected surf shops and online.

 Organic_wax.jpg  Bees_knees_surf_wax.jpg  Matunas_surf_wax.png

The key questions to ask when looking at buying a particular brand of wax are:

1. What is the wax made of; petroleum-based, plant-based or other natural products (or mixes of these)?

2. Are petrochemical additives used?

3. Does it have any verifiable/certified eco-friendly qualities?

4. Where was the wax made (transport can add greatly to a product’s carbon footprint)?

If this information is not clear on the wax labelling, then you can always contact the maker to ask for more details.

Soy V paraffin

There is a lot of debate as to the merits of plant-based soy wax over the standard petroleum-based paraffin wax. Some issues to consider include; are the source soy crops genetically modified, how much energy is needed to grow the crop and manufacture soy wax, and are soy crops the best land use option for a particular area? Then again, soy wax can have some advantages in terms of sustainability over wax produced from a finite resource such as petroleum, which of course also needs to be extracted and processed.

We know – it’s just a block of wax! But Surfrider wants you to be fully informed when you make your choice of product – no matter how small or large.


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