Surf wax is essential ingredient for any surfboard. We’ve written this guide to cover everything you could possibly want to know about surfboard wax and more! Check out the details in the table of contents below.
Why do you wax a surfboard?
The main reason surf wax is used is to provide grip for your feet. The wax makes your surfboard stickier and provides more friction so you’re less likely to slip off. Beginner foam surfboards don’t usually have (or need) wax because their tops already have a lot of friction on them but an extra layer of wax doesn’t harm. On the other hand, for pretty much every other type of surfboard you will always need a layer of wax. Try surfing without wax and you’ll realise your mistake as you slip off your board for the 10th time in a row. Also, another advantage is that some surf wax smells pretty good!
What is the Best Surf Wax?
The original, classic range of surf wax that has been preventing surfers from slipping off their boards for decades. Still going strong to this day.
Iconic and easily recognizable. Mr Zogs leads the way forward and is the default choice for most surfers.
What is Sex Wax?
Don’t worry, you’re still reading an article about surfing. Sex Wax is the brand name created by “Mr Zog”.
Why is it called Sex Wax?
Simply because it’s eye catching and controversial. This controversy has propelled Mr Zogs Sex Wax into the world’s best selling surfboard wax.
Plus, leave it in your car or around you house to see how your friends react when they take a glance.
Mr Zog offers a number of different surf wax ranges including:
- Original Range (details of which are listed in this box)
- Quick Humps (listed in the next box)
- Dream Cream
- Really Tacky
Available in the following temperature ranges:
- Cool Water – Extra Soft for water temps below 58°F/14°C
- Cold Water – Soft for water temps from 56°F/13°C to 68°F/20°C
- Warm Water – Firm for water temps from 66°F/19°C to 78°F/26°C
- Tropical Water – Hard for water temps above 75°F/24°C
It’s hard to beat the world’s best selling surfboard wax.
Type & Temperature Range:
- Frigid Water – Extreme Soft for water temps below 50°F/10°C
- Cool Water – Extra Soft for water temps from 50°F/10°C to 58°F/14°C
- Cold to Cool Water – Soft for water temps from 56°F/13°C to 64°F/18°C
- Cold Water – Firm for water temps from 62°F/17°C to 70°F/21°C
- Warm Water – Hard for water temps from 68°F/20°C to 76°F/24°C
- Tropical Water – Or Basecoat for water temps above 76°F/24°C
A new twist on a classic formula for advanced level surfing.
Another surf wax company that comes with a long history and has been going since the 70’s. Created by John Dahl, sticky bumps was originally designed to prevent people slipping off their boards during the shortboard revolution.
They currently sell under a number of different surf wax brands including Day Glo, Munkey Wax, Hawaiian Formula, Tour Series and Punt Bits. They even sell their sup, bodyboard and skimboard wax.
Their original surfboard wax range comes with a number of different options including:
- Cold: Our softest wax for water temps below 60°F/15°C
- Cool: A semi-soft wax for water temps 58°F-68°F/14°C-19°C
- Warm: A semi-hard wax for water temps 64°F-74°F/19°C-28°C
- Tropical: A hard wax for water temps above 75°F/24°C
- Basecoat: The hardest wax which is used as a base coat and combined with one of the above top coat waxes.
Sticky Bumps offers great performance and minimizes wipeouts.
Whilst the two top spots get taken by Sex Wax and Sticky Bumps, there’s still a few eager competitors that are nibbling away at their heels:
# 3 – Mrs Palmers Surf Wax
Created in Australia, this wax is sticky across all all temperature ranges.
# 4 – Famous Surf Wax
Founded in San Diego and one of the most popular surf waxes on the west coast. It even has a UV inhibitor to protect your surfboard from the sun.
# 5 – Bubble Gum Surf Wax
From California, a company that’s been active since the 80’s. They offer a range of surfboard wax and surf wax kits.
Want Organic Surf Wax that’s Eco-friendly?
The problem with surf wax is that a lot of the popular brands are made from petrochemicals and release paraffin into the water. Fortunately there are some organic surf waxes available:
- Cold: Our softest wax for water temps below 60°F/16°C
- Cool: A semi-soft wax for water temps 56°F-68°F/13°C-20°C
- Warm: A semi-hard wax for water temps 64°F-74°F/18°C-24°C
- Tropical: A hard wax for water temps above 75°F/24°C
- Basecoat: Used as a first layer which is then combined with one of the top coats.
The perfect surf wax for the eco-conscious surfer.
Types of surf wax
There are two main types of surf wax: basecoat wax and top coat wax.
Basecoat surf wax
The basecoat wax is the initial layer of wax that you apply to your board and it tends to be harder and provides the foundation for the top coat – it’s also more difficult for this wax to melt off. The base coat tends to work in all temperatures.
Top coat surf wax
The top coat of wax is applied after the base coat and it is softer and stickier – providing your feet with more grip. However this makes it more likely to melt off. Different top coats of wax are used in different temperatures of water:
Surf Wax temperature Guide
The warmer the water, the more likely it is that your wax will melt off your board. Each surf wax brand will let you know which temperature the surf wax is supposed to be used in. Because of this, if you’re unsure of the water temperature, it is generally better to go with wax that is aimed at a hotter temperature range.
How to wax a surfboard
If you’re applying wax to a surfboard you might be in any one of three situations:
- A) Applying wax to a new surfboard.
- B) Maintaining wax on an existing surfboard.
- C) Removing old wax and then applying a fresh coat.
How to apply surfboard wax
- For best results, wax your board when you are in the shade, ideally on a surface that is soft so that you don’t damage the board or fins.
- Make sure you apply the wax to the correct areas of your surfboard. Wax is always on the top of the board and you don’t need to wax the traction pad if you have one. If you’re having trouble gripping the sides of your surfboard then add some wax there as well.
- You can use several techniques for applying wax: using a cross section pattern, rubbing the wax from side to side or simply a circular motion. Normally, people use diagonal cross section pattern when applying the initial layer of wax and then finish it off with a circular motion layer.
- Apply a surfboard wax BASE coat – This is the initial layer of wax that you apply to the board using the techniques listed above. It uses a harder piece of wax that is more likely to stay on your board if the top coat gets removed but also makes it harder to apply to the board. Apply this using a diagonal cross section pattern. After application, you should have a bumpy layer of hard wax on the board, ready for the top coat.
- Apply a surfboard wax TOP coat – After the base coat of wax, you add a top coat layer of wax, one that is chosen to match the water temperature of the area that you are in. First apply a diagonal cross section pattern and then afterwards use a circular motion which will build up a layer of bumps. It tends to be softer and stickier, providing your feet with more grip.
Maintaining wax on an existing surfboard
There’s three ways for maintaining the wax on your surfboard:
- Simply reapply a new top coat of wax onto your board. People often do this before every surfing session.
- Take your surf wax comb and use the serrated edge to scratch a pattern into the old wax – giving the old slippery wax some fresh new life. Surfer’s might do this every couple of sessions.
- Completely remove all of the wax entirely from your board and then apply an entire new coat. This should be done every once in a while and is a good idea to do the night before a big swell.
Removing Surfboard Wax
Why you need to remove surfboard wax?
Surfer’s often apply new surf wax before every surfing session, especially in warmer climates where the wax is more likely to slowly melt off.
However, over time the extra grip that the surfboard wax provides you with will begin to diminish, weaken and become slippery again. This wax loses it’s grip naturally when it hits your feet, rubs against bags, grips your wetsuit etc. – so what you’re left with is slippery wax that only adds to the weight of your board.
Because of all of this, every once in a while it becomes necessary to entirely remove all of the surf wax on your board and then reapply an entire new layer.
How To Remove Surfboard Wax in 5 Easy Steps
Removing surf wax doesn’t have to be time consuming, in fact it can be done relatively quickly when using the correct tools.
- Have the following pieces of equipment ready and on hand:
- Your surfboard
- A wax comb (see below)
- A hair dryer/boiling water via a kettle/stove (if in a cold climate or the sun isn’t out)
- Place your surfboard outside in the sun for 30 minutes to allow the wax to heat up. Alternatively, use a hair dryer and blow over the board or pour boiling water over the areas you are about to scrape. Do this until the wax becomes soft. You’ll want to be working in a location you don’t mind getting messy so usually a garage. Also, place the surfboard on something soft and use a cloth as you don’t want it to rub on hard surfaces like concrete.
- Take your surfing wax comb and use the flat side of the comb to scrape away chunks of the wax. If desperate use a credit card.
- Any smaller pieces left over can be removed using a cloth with a surf wax remover solution. Some people also use white spirits on the cloth but be careful with this as it depends upon the material your board is made of – that’s why citrus based solutions are good. You’ll know when you’re done as the board will look fairly glossy. Without any wax on the board, now is a good time to examine the board for dings.
- Optional: take the removed surf wax from the floor and recycle it.
Best 6 Surf Wax Remover Tools
The two main things that you can use to help you remove surf wax include:
Best Surf Wax Combs
The Pickle Wax Remover with Wax Comb
If you’re looking for the no.1 surf wax remover then you’ve got to go with the Pickle. It comes in 2 pieces, a well design surf wax comb AND a uniquely designed cloth sponge (or pickle). The surf comb is used to remove the thicker chunks of wax whilst the pickle cloth is used afterwards to effectively scrub off any of the remaining smaller pieces of wax that are still stuck to your board.
SBS Surf Wax Comb with Bottle Opener
This Wax Buddy from SBS comes with 4 unique features. It contains the standard serrated edge for applying wax and straight flat edge for removing wax. But then it also has a curved edge that makes removing wax from the edge of your board much easier. Plus there’s even a bottle opener to help you crack open a beer after a hard days surf.
Just Surf Professional Surfboard Wax Scraper
A bit on the expensive side, but this wax scraper is perfect if you’re a frequently removing wax because you’re a surfboard shaper or daily surfer. Comes with a comfortable handle that prevent your hand from aching after extended periods of use.
Best Surf Wax Liquid Removal Solutions
Sticky Bumps Wax Remover Bottle
This citrus based formula is designed to remove surfboard wax whilst not damaging your fiberglass board. This is a must buy for any serious surfer that is frequently rewaxing their surfboard.
Ding All Wax Remover
Similar to the sticky bumps formula, this wax remover works well when combined with the ‘Ding All’ repair kit.
Bubble Gum Wax Remover With Spray Bottle
This wax remover kit contains 3 pieces including a comb, cloth and specially formulated spray. Ideal if you just want to get everything ordered in one package.
How to Recycle & Reuse Surf Wax
Recycling and reusing surf protects the environment and saves you money AND it’s easy to do as well. Just follow these simple steps:
- Remove the surf wax using the above guide.
- Get yourself an empty tin can and a small plastic mold or tupperware container ready.
- Place all of the scrapped off wax into the tin can.
- Boil some water on a stove and place the tin can on top of the water – hold it in place using some tongs and stir using a wooden stick or spoon.
- Once all of the wax has completely melted, pour it out into your plastic mold or tupperware container.
- Leave it to cool for an hour or 2 and then pop it out from the mold using your hands. You’ve now leveled up your eco-friendly credentials and have just recycled some surf wax!
How to Make Surf Wax in 8 Steps
Did you know that you can create you own diy surf wax at home? This is especially good if you want organic surf wax because you’ll know where all the ingredients came from – so it can be super eco-friendly.
- Get the following surfboard wax ingredients & equipment:
Ingredients (locally sourced if possible):
- Coconut oil – from a coconut if in tropical climates.
- Bee’s wax – from a local beekeeper if one is in the area.
- Tree/Pine resin – cut and collected from a local pine tree if nearby.
- Optional: food dye for colored surf wax.
- Optional: scented oils for making the wax smell nice.
- Tin can with top removed
- Mold/tupperware/plastic container to allow the wax to cool
- Cut the correct amounts of coconut oil, bee’s wax and pine resin into the following ratio:
- 1 part coconut oil
- 4 part bee’s wax
- 1 part pine resin
E.g. So if you had 100mg of coconut oil then you would want 400mg of bee’s wax and 100mg of pine resin.
(Note: Some people change this ratio slightly depending upon the temperature of the ocean. For more grip use a higher ratio of bee’s wax. Also, if surfing in warmer waters, some people exclude the use of tree resin. If unsure, just use the standard formula above.)
- Place all of the surf wax ingredients together into a cleaned tin can with it’s top removed. Optionally, add a food dye to create colored surf wax and scented oils to make the wax smell good.
- Boil some water on a stove and then place the tin can on top of the water.
- As it heats, hold the tin can using the kitchen tongs and stir using a wooden spoon.
- Continue heating until the surf wax ingredients have melted together to formed their own combination. Pour this mixture into a mold or plastic container you have ready.
- Wait for an hour or two for the wax to cool.
- Using your hands, pop the wax out of the mold. Your homemade surf wax will now be ready for use!
Surf Wax Alternatives
Want an alternative to surf wax? If you compare a surfboard traction pad vs wax, some people believe the traction pad wins out every time and that it should cover the entire board instead of wax. If you believe this then you might want to try out the HexaTraction surf grip which provides a wax-less alternative and so is much less messy.