Ultimate Guide to Surf Wax

Whether you’re new to surfing or you’ve been catching waves for a while, it’s likely you don’t know everything there is to know about surf wax.

And that’s fine—it’s easy to forget about those small little bars when you’re upgrading your surfboard or surfing gear. But did you know that finding the right wax could be critical to your surfing experience?

I know what you may be thinking—is wax really that important? After all, many surfers just grab whatever. We all know those guys who use whichever wax is laying around (even those hairy leftover chunks at the bottom of their buckets).

Image source: gosurfperth.com

The answer is, “Yes.” Because each wax is manufactured and crafted for a different purpose and with different materials, not every product will work the same on your board. This means that you should find what works best for you—and for your specific purposes.

Luckily, that’s why we’re here! With this guide, you will learn everything there is to know. We will make sure you know everything there is to know about waxing your board.

Ready? Let’s dive right in!

The Purpose of Surf Wax

Let’s start with the most important question: what’s the purpose of surf wax? In short, surf wax is meant to help surfers like you maintain the grip on your surfboard. Without it, you’ll find it difficult to maintain balance on your board, and you can forget about doing any tricks.

The right wax can keep you upright and slicing through the waves. It’s important to find the right balance of traction and stickiness so that you can maintain optimal balance throughout your surfing experience.

Major Brands and Products

No guide would be complete without an overview of the most popular brands and items. As such, we’ve prepared a list of the best brands and eco-conscious innovations on the market so that you can be more prepared when you go to wax your board. Hailing from a variety of countries and crafted for use in a plethora of different environments, these waxes have the potential to enhance your surfing experience.

Let’s take a look and see which ones are right for you.

Zog’s Original Sexwax

This warm-water, multi-purpose wax is perfect for use as a basecoat or a top coat. For this reason, it has enjoyed wide popularity across the world for many years. With smooth application and removal, Mr. Zog’s Original Sexwax is the perfect wax for those just getting into surfing—or for experienced surfers.

This wax is known for its durability. In fact, according to customer reviews, Mr. Zog’s Original Sexwax can be left outside with no melting or no loss of scent. This means that unlike other waxes, you don’t have to do anything special to store Mr. Zog’s.

While this wax is technically a warm-water product, it comes in several temperature options, including cool and tropical. As such, it is perfect for use—even when you’re not surfing in your regular area.

Available in coconut, grape, strawberry, and pineapple scents, Mr. Zog’s Original Sexwax is a versatile option that can be used for all your waxing needs!

Zog's have done an amazing job with their marketing as well, creating a great product is just the start. Hitting the market is a totally different story, the suggestive name and play on words has hit the surfing demographic perfectly and make itself one of the most reputable and well-known brands.

Sticky Bumps Original Surfboard Wax

If you are looking for a wax that stands out, try Sticky Bumps. One of the best brands in surfing, Sticky Bumps revolutionized the surfing industry in the early 1990s with the introduction of their bump-forming waxes. These bumps were designed to give surfers extra traction with maximum riding comfort.

As you might expect, many brands have attempted to emulate this success. Still, there are few things better than the real deal itself. Whilst it may be a little more expensive than some other options on this list, it’s worth it when you are getting the real deal.

What’s more, you don’t have to worry about the environment nearly as much as with some of the other brands. Sticky Bumps uses only biodegradable materials so that neither the wax itself nor its packaging will damage the environment in any way, shape or form. This forward-thinking attitude is part of what sets Sticky Bumps apart.

Sticky Bumps Original Surfboard Wax is recommended for anyone, no matter your level of surfing experience.

Matuna’s Surf Wax

Matuna is a trusted name in surfing. Popular for its eco-friendly products that are made from 100% biodegradable and natural materials, the brand knows what it takes to make a quality product that works for all.

At no point in the manufacturing stage does Matuna use anything that cannot be recycled. As such, you are sure to get a quality product when you buy from a brand who cares so much about the ocean. What’s better, Matuna’s Surf Wax is one of the best products around. With easy application, it's perfect for those beginners who are just learning how to wax their boards.

What’s makes Matuna even more special is their packaging. Unlike other waxes that sell individually or in packages of three, Matuna’s Surf Wax comes in a package of six. This means that you are getting more bang for your buck.

Surf Organic

Another Australian founded surf company passionate on environmentally conscious products, Surf Organic's range of eco-friendly products boasts some of the stickiest wax on the market.

Founded in 2011 their team or surf-minded professionals went looking for an eco-friendly alternative to the nasty ingredients used at the time. Their product met every ecological benchmark set at the highest of levels. 

They remain one of the go-to brands here in Australia due to their passion and innovation.

As an added bonus to the companies contributing to the surfing industry, they donate 1% of their profits to 1% For the Planet Foundation to support environmental charities. They also employ a no plastic policy by using only recycled packaging materials and is a proud supporter of the Surfrider Foundation.

Outdoor Wax Works Gripping Wax

Outdoor Wax Works offers an eco-friendly and multipurpose option that is perfect for experienced and inexperienced surfers alike. The brand prides itself on using no fossil fuels—ever—in their waxes.

The company’s Gripping Wax is a great, environmentally-friendly option that is sure to stick those stinky feet of yours to the board. Though it’s also used on paddles and skimboards, it remains a popular choice for surfers who are looking to use a product produced with an all-natural formula.

What sets them apart from the rest is its scentless nature. If you are looking for a board wax that won’t have your board smelling like your grandma's carpet, you may want to consider Outdoor Wax Works’ Gripping Wax. Focused solely on functionality, this wax works well in both hot and cold climates. Specifically, this wax won’t melt in the heat and provides you with a better grip in colder water conditions.

A great option from a quality and established a brand in the surfing industry. Keep in mind that Outdoor Wax Works’ Gripping Wax comes in packs of three and is famously long-lasting.

Double Barrel Surf Wax

Handcrafted in California and perfect in water temperatures between 58 to 68 degrees, Double Barrel Surf Wax is a good option for anyone looking for a cooler, high-quality wax. That’s why it’s Santa Barbra Surfing’s most popular wax product and why customers across the US use it on their boards.

Double Barrel Surf Wax boasts an environmentally-friendly composition that nature lovers will enjoy. Manufacturers take special care to craft each wax with eco-friendly materials that will dissolve and absorb in the water without affecting the local ecosystems or cultures there.

Many reviewers compliment Double Barrel Surf Wax’s coconut aroma. Designed to compliment your beach experience, this scent will have your board smelling good after each waxing.

What’s more, this wax currently enjoys a 4.9/5 star rating on Amazon and is available from Santa Barbara Surfing’s website for the low prices for a three pack. This means that Double Barrel Surf Wax is a cheap, long-lasting option for anyone looking to ride the surf.

Bubble Gum Surf Wax

Bubble Gum is an established surf wax brand that has been helping surfers stay afloat since 1982. Available in packs of ten, Bubble Gum Surf Wax is available in two colors.

As the name suggests, the product offers a candy-like bubble gum scent. This is excellent for surfers planning to swim in cooler waters (58 degrees to 68 degrees).

If you are looking for a quality brand with a carefree spirit, Bubble Gum Surf Wax is a great option that provides a long-lasting stick for your surfboard.

Famous Green Label Cool Organic Surf Wax

This eco-friendly brand is ideal for anyone in cooler ocean waters. With its non-slip, easy-grip technology, the Famous Green Label Cool Organic Surf Wax is a durable product that will keep you on your board without harming the environment.

What’s more, this wax will keep traction in cooler waters and won’t melt when temperatures start to rise. As such, it’s a great option for riders of any experience level.

One of a long line of Famous Surf’s high-quality and well-known surfing products, you can be sure you are getting just what you paid for with this top-notch wax.

Palmers Tropical Surfboard Wax

Mrs. Palmers offers an extra sticky wax that is formulated for tropical waters of 75 degrees or more. Manufactured right here in beautiful Australia, this product offers extra security for long-lasting surf sessions. This means that you don’t have to worry about your wax coming off if you’re in the water for a long time.

You also don’t have to worry about falling off. With ultra-stick technology, there’s no better way to keep you floored to your board as you ride the great Australian waves.

Sticky Bumps Hawaiian Surf Wax

Introducing another Sticky Bumps product. The company’s Hawaiian Surf Wax is just as revolutionary as the first Sticky Bumps item on our list. Why? Because the Hawaiian Surf Wax was the first traction-added product that wasn’t paraffin based. That’s pretty impressive.

As you might have guessed from the name, this is a tropical wax that is perfect for waters 75 degrees and above. Available in packs of three, in a coconut scent that will have your board smelling like a tropical ocean paradise.

No matter your level of surfing experience Sticky Bumps’ Hawaiian Surf Wax is the perfect choice for anyone attempting to surf in tropical waters.

Da Hui Super Sticky

Da Hui’s Super Sticky is perfect for anyone looking for a stickier option. If your current wax isn’t doing enough to keep you on your board, it may be time for something a little stronger. Manufactured in Hawaii, Da Hui’s Super Sticky wax is designed to provide you with more security as you surf.

Because this wax is so sticky, it’s recommended that you don’t apply a heavy top coat. Instead, simply apply a thin coat on top of a strong basecoat. You don’t want to make your board too sticky, or you may not be able to ride it.

Fu Wax

Manufactured in Brazil and available for a low price per bar, Fu Wax is one of the top brands for serious surfers—anywhere—period.

Pro surfers rave about Fu Wax’s incredible traction. Unlike other waxes, this one only gets better as you surf. Fu Wax comes in cold, cool, warm, tropical, and Cool Water of Summer options, meaning that you have the perfect wax available—no matter when or where you choose to go surfing! What’s more, the brand now offers a basecoat option that’s meant solely to provide your board with the optimal foundation!

Though the wax is manufactured in Brazil, it is now available in most countries. Priced similarly to other major brands, Fu Wax is the ultimate in surfing excellence.

If you are just getting into surfing or are simply looking to upgrade, you can’t go wrong with this. Try out this versatile brand today—or whenever you go surfing!

Betel Nut

Betel Nut is handcrafted in Taiwan by creator Kevin Chen. If you are looking for a quality wax available in sexy packaging (really, you’ll have to see it to believe it), this is the product for you. Betel Nut isn’t the stickiest on the market, so it may not be the best for beginners. Still, it’s a quality option for those more experienced surfers who are looking for something that can hold them in place without getting too sticky.

Cream Surfing Company

The Cream Surfing Company is an Australian made product by Robbie Page who invented a new traction technology, strongly believing change is needed and his product will revolutionize the entire surf industry. 

Unlike bar wax, as the name suggests, this is a cream build on the valued of innovation, inspiration and environmentally driven goals. Boasting fantastic reviews across its Facebook and social media's.

Robbie Page is a world-renowned surfer, not just some guy in his garage who found something sticky on a lonely Friday night. This brings great credibility to the innovation and product development.

Self-proclaimed as "Undoubtedly the best wax on the market", it's a one-layer, one-application blend, this means you don't need to use multiple kinds of wax to archive ultimate stick.

Rat Cheese

We’ve got to admit—we love this name. What makes it even better is that this bar of wax is shaped like Swiss Cheese.

This quirky brand is a high-quality option for those with a sense of style. At a premium price per bar, it’s a pricier option when compared to some others on this list. Still, you can’t complain about its quality.

In addition to providing a quality stick, it offers consumers a fruity scent that will have their boards smelling amazing and fresh.

Conclusion

The brands and products listed above are all established in the surfing industry. We recommend trying each of them out to see which one is the best for you and your surfing needs. You may find that you prefer specific brands over others, or it could be that you like certain products from different brands.

However you choose to shop, you are sure to find a quality product in the list above.

Differences Between Waxes

Before you run off down the beach, set your board up on your lap and slap some wax on your board, you should know not only the different types of wax but also the different layers that you need to put on your board.

Specifically, there are two layers you must apply to your board: the base coat and the top coat. These two layers serve different purposes, but both are necessary for the functioning as intended on your board.

Additionally, knowing the difference between sticky wax and more traditional waxes could be the difference between a good or bad surfing experience. Without further ado, let’s take a look at these differences and layers so you can make well educated and informed decision when it comes to application.

Basecoat

The basecoat is the first layer of wax that you will apply to your surfboard. Generally, the basecoat will consist of a harder wax that can generally be used in warm water or tropical climates.

What’s the purpose of this coat?

In short, the basecoat is meant to hold your top coat down and get your board surf-ready. When you apply your base coat, you are attempting to form small bumps of wax across the riding surface of your board. These bumps will help you maintain balance as you surf.

In general, the basecoat lasts longer, but it may be more difficult to apply. Understanding the right amount of pressure to use is crucial to the proper application of your base coat.

Top Coat

The top coat is the layer of wax that you apply on your foundation or base coat. When applying your top coat, you want to use gentler pressure and move in a circular motion. When you apply the top coat, you should notice that the bumps formed in your base coat are becoming more pronounced.

After applying a gentle top coat for a few minutes, your board should be ready to ride. You want to make sure that you don’t oversaturate your board during this step. Keep in mind that if you use too much wax, you will actually be making it harder to surf.

Traditional vs Sticky

Traditional waxes are the most popular forms, and it’s what we generally use to apply base coats and top coats. With traditional waxes, it can take a few minutes to make our boards sticky enough to maintain traction throughout multiple surfing trips. That’s why it’s so important that you follow the proper steps when waxing your board.

If you find this troublesome, however, or if you are not sure if your board is waxed enough, you can use a stickier product to help you maintain balance as you carve some waves. These shouldn’t be applied across your board. Instead, you simply need to apply only to the area where you will put your feet. Remember that if you apply too much, you may find it too sticky to actually work.

Importance of Wax Temperature

If you’re new to surfing, you might not know that different products and/or brands are compatible with different temperatures. The temperature you will be surfing depends on location and season.

For those surfers living in more tropical places (such as Hawaii, or here in Australia), a higher-temperature product is necessary. For those surfing in cooler climates, different climate wax is required. Let’s take a look at the different temperatures available so that you are ready when the time comes.

Tropical

If you plan on surfing in waters 75 degrees and above, you need a tropical wax to keep maximum traction with your board. These are designed to withstand hotter temperatures, meaning they won’t melt away when it gets too hot outside, or in direct sunlight. Furthermore, these are generally harder than other wax temperatures.

Warm

Waters with temperatures between 58 and 75 degrees require... you guessed it, warm water wax. These aren’t as resistant to hot temperatures, so it’s important to use as directed by the manufacturer for maximum board traction.

Cool

Cool surf wax is available for use in waters between 58 to 68 degrees. Cool Water Wax mixtures work well to maintain grip and traction in cooler temperatures, but it won’t hold up very well when temperatures begin to heat up.

Cold

If you plan on surfing in temperatures 60 degrees or below (firstly, make sure to throw on a wetsuit), it’s advised that you use cold-water wax. This is designed to keep the maximum grip on your board, even when temperatures drop low. Be careful to store this wax carefully so that it doesn’t melt in higher temperatures. Furthermore, it’s important that you don’t use it in warmer or tropical climates, as it won’t be able to withstand the heat.

Most surf brands provide their popular options with all temperatures in mind. This means that you likely won’t have to switch brands to find a quality product for a different temperature.

If you live in colder locations, your local store will typically hold the right product, same goes for tropical locations, you'll typically find tropical, and warm wax.

What is a Wax Comb?

Wax combs are tools typically used for combing your slick hair-do... OR if you're not playing a joke on the new surfers, they're used for maintenance or removal of wax from surfboards. These combs contain a jagged edge that can be used not only to remove old wax from a board bust also to comb newly-applied wax for increased traction.

Image source: kuntiqi.com

Though wax combs are not required for either wax application or removal, many surfers find them convenient and remark that they provide for a better surfing session. For this reason, it’s worth investing in a quality comb.

Wax Application

Knowing when and how to apply your surf wax is crucial to having a positive surfing experience. For starters, if you do not apply enough wax, you will find it difficult—if not impossible—to stay upright on your board. This is especially important for beginners who are looking to get the hang of the sport.

On the flip side, putting too much wax can make your board too slippery. This is, in essence, a waste of wax, as you will be right back to square one—except for the fact that you’ll have a messy board to clean.

When to Apply

Most beginning surfers think they’ll have to re-wax their board every time they go surfing. This is a popular misconception. Though it’s advised that you apply a light coating of wax every time you go surfing, you won’t need to clean and wax your board every session if you do it right the first time.

Instead, you’ll simply need to re-wax your board when you feel yourself losing traction with the board. The length and frequency of your surfing sessions, as well as the type of wax you use, will determine how often you will need to apply.

How to Apply

In general, the wax application comes in a series of steps. Though surfers usually have their own unique application methods, it’s best for beginners to follow standard protocol to maximize the amount of time they will be able to surf on their boards.

As a rule, you should first apply a base coat to your board. This coat will help you gain traction and hold the top coat in place. The top coat, which is often just a thin layer of wax, is the final layer of the application process and should ensure your board is surf-ready.

When you apply, it’s important that you use a wax that is designed for your specific surfing needs. Keep in mind the level of “stick,” as well as the temperature threshold.

Image source: 360guide.info

Wax Removal

As you might expect, surfboard wax removal can be messy. Sure, the last thing we want to do when it’s time to catch the surf is sit down and clean our boards. Still, it’s a vital part of the process, so it’s important to know when and how to remove.

When to Remove your surfboard wax

When you begin to feel yourself losing traction with your board, it’s time to remove your wax. The more you surf, the less effective your wax will be. This is especially true if you are using the wrong type. Eventually, you won’t be able to balance.

This is how you know it’s time to remove say goodbye to your current application and reapply. Don’t worry—wax removal is actually much easier than you may think.

How to Remove Wax

There are several methods of removal. Some surfers find it easiest to just cover their boards with sand and leave them for a few minutes. The sand will interact with molecules in the wax and loosen the substance from your board. After a few minutes, simply come back to your board and wipe it over with the sand covering it. This should provide you with a top-notch clean.

If you're still at home you could lay your board on some grass, or cardboard and use a heat gun to melt the wax. Once melted it's much easier to wipe off—yes it's hot, use gloves and a thick rag.

Image source: sloutdoorsmag.com

If not, it’s time to break out your wax comb. Wax combs are very effective at removing wax from all types of boards. Simply run the comb down the surface of the board, clearing away as much wax as possible. To achieve a high-quality clean surface, you may find it necessary to use cloth as well. Don’t stop until your board is glossy and lacks any wax residue.

It’s extremely important that you get your board as clean as you can. Leftover residue from your previous application can interfere with your new job. This can negatively influence traction and balance—something you obviously don’t want to happen.

Top Ten Surfboard Waxing Tips

Knowing all this, let’s take a look at ten of the most important surfboard waxing tips. These tips could help you get your surfboard waxing right—the first time and every time.

1. Crosshatch First

It’s important to know the proper design and angles you should be used when applying to your board. Whether it's your first time or simply re-applying your wax, you should use the proper steps to make sure your board offers maximum traction when you’re out on the waves.

This means that you should crosshatch. In order to do this, start with a diagonal pattern going in one direction down the length of the riding surface of your board. Your lines should be within an inch of each other. Once you have completely covered this surface, make more diagonal lines going in the opposite direction until you have formed a cross-hatch pattern.

This pattern will prove useful later in forming small bumps on your board and adding traction for when you surf.

2. Put the Wax Where You Put Your Feet

There’s no need to make a beginner’s mistake. It’s important to know exactly where to begin waxing your board so that you don’t make a sight on the beach. In general, you should only be waxing those areas where you will put your feet.

This means that you don’t need to completely cover the top portion of your board. Start from around the middle of the board and work your way to the lower end. This will ensure that you have the proper traction where you need it—and not anywhere else.

3. No Need to Wax a Foam Board

Many people want to know, “Do I need to wax a foam board?”

This is a question without a direct answer. The short response is “No.” Most foam boards aren’t even slippery, to begin with. Unlike regular surfboards, they have enough built-in traction to keep you upright and steady as you ride the waves.

That being said, there are some people who wax their foam boards just for extra security. If you don’t like the feel of your foam board and think it could use more balance, there’s no harm.

4. Apply Your Wax in Circles

Once you have applied wax in a cross-hatched pattern across your board, begin to rub in circular motions along the length of the cross-hatched area. This will help you form a strong foundation and top coat that will keep you steady in the water.

In general, you want to keep your circles small. If you apply too broadly, you may find that you don’t have enough traction as you ride, even with the cross-hatched base. For this reason, keep your circles small and don’t stop until you see prominently raised bumps across the riding area of your board.

5. Hard Wax is Good for Your Basecoat

As a rule, hard wax is good for applying your basecoat. You want a strong foundation for your board so that you maintain optimal balance as you ride. While soft wax may work decently, it’s always better to use a harder more versatile product that won’t fade as easily and will keep your board extra durable for longer.

This is also good if you are surfing in more tropical temperatures. Hard wax is always recommended for those surfing in hotter waters because it holds up better and keeps you riding for longer.

6. Don’t Clean Your Board After Every Session

Cleaning your board thoroughly before re-applying is absolutely crucial to the success of your surfing experience. That being said, you don’t need to clean your board after each surfing session.

Beginners may believe that wax needs to be removed and replaced after each time they surf. This is actually a misconception. Most waxes are strong enough to hold after one session, even longer ones. In general, you want to find a product that can hold up even after you’ve surfed for a while. Even if you don’t, however, there’s little likelihood that your wax will be unusable after just one session.

Keeping this in mind can save you tons of money and time when it comes to waxing your board. Remember: the time to remove your wax is when your board has lost its traction.

7. Don’t Press Too Hard

When applying wax to your board, it’s crucial that you apply the right pressure. Pressing too hard can lead to over-application. When you apply too much wax to your board, you may find that it’s harder to stay upright. Simply put, using too much wax makes your board more slippery and increases the chances that you will fall while surfing.

On the same note, you don’t want to apply the wax too softly, either. This is because you need to have enough pressure to form a strong foundation. For this reason, try using medium pressure on your board until you notice prominent bumps about one millimeter high running across the riding area of your board.

8. Make Sure Your Wax Forms Bumps

This leads us to our next point. If your board doesn’t have raised bumps after you finish waxing, you’re not actually finished. Without these bumps, it’s likely that you won’t have enough traction to stay upright while surfing.

If you follow the designs and patterns given in this guide, you won’t have any problem forming the wax bumps that signify a properly-waxed board. Just remember to wax the correct area and use the right amount of pressure—or you may find yourself having to start all over.

Don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time. That’s okay. It may take a few waxing sessions before you get the hang of it.

9. Give Your Board a Light Rub before You Surf

Though you don’t need to re-wax your board every time you surf (this is a complete waste of time, money, and wax), some surfers find it better to give their boards a light rub before each surfing session.

The reason for this is simple. By giving your board a light rub, you are ensuring that you won’t have any issues as you surf. It simply provides you with a little extra protection to give you the surfing experience you deserve.

10. Try Out Different Types of Wax

Finally, don’t forget to play around with different types of wax. Every surfer has their favorite type of wax, and it likely won’t be any different for you. It may take a while for you to find the wax that provides the right traction and balance for you.

But don’t worry. With several waxes to choose from, you are sure to find your own optimal brand.

The Bottom Line

Surf wax is a valuable investment for any surfer. No matter how familiar you are with the sport, it’s important that you find a quality surf wax that works for you. whether you choose to use a tailpad, or wax is completely up to you and a personal preference. We wrote a useful guide to help you determine whether wax or a tailpad is best. Ultimately, try both.

Once you’ve found a wax that suits your needs, it’s crucial to make sure you are applying it and removing it properly. Proper and safe surfing can only be achieved when your board is properly maintained.

So there you have it. We hope this guide comes in handy. If you keep the information provided herein mind next time you buy wax, you are sure to have a positive surfing experience.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to go catch some waves!


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