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.
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.