This can be a daunting site when you walk in to a surf shop – asking for a block of wax only to be pointed in the direction of a small mountain of wax in all shapes, sizes and colours.
Choosing the right wax and waxing your board isn’t be a difficult process once you learn the basics.
Hard wax for warm water – Soft wax for cold water
All blocks of surfboard wax come with a temperature rating, which relates to the level of “sticky-ness” of the wax and what temperature it will perform best at.
As cold water wax has a lower melting point than warm water wax, as an example, if you were to wax a board with cold water wax and surf it in Indonesia (very warm water >24°), the wax would melt and run/be rubbed off the board by your body very quickly, leaving you with no wax on the board and more than likely a bad surf session ahead.
Going the other way, putting warm water wax on your board and surfing it here in the UK, the wax will simply not be sticky enough and become slippy.
The charts below highlights which surfboard wax should be used in which water temperatures (for the popular Sexwax brand)
With the water temperatures in the South West UK ranging from 8° – 19° , we generally use only purple and green Sexwax (for the winter and summer respectively).
A base coat is a thin layer of very hard wax applied to the board before the topcoat, which allows the topcoat to go on easier. It is not a necessary step, however does make the job a little easier and saves some of your topcoat wax.
The general idea of surf wax application is to build up little “bumps” of wax, which will add to the grip. A smooth layer of wax will not be as sticky as you would imagine – The textured surface you create with these bumps will increase the traction significantly.
You can apply the wax in straight lines, or in little circles – it really doesn’t matter as long as you get enough on the board and build up these bumps.
On shortboards and minimals, you will want to wax around 3/4 of the board. From the tail of the board upwards (your back foot should be over the fins on most boards when surfing). You may wish to apply the wax heavily by the rails where your hands may go when popping up, duck-diving and rolling the board.
You may want to wax your longboard all the way from nose to tail, as you move position more on a longboard and may even attempt to stand on the nose and “hang ten”.
Wax combs can be a useful way of increasing the grip of your wax and renew the bumps of wax. These are often multi-purpose and have one side for a comb and the other as a scraper to remove old/dirty wax.
Wax left on the dash or seat of a car in hot weather is no fun to come back to after a surf. It’s handy to keep your surf wax in a storage system – less chance to lose it and it stops it from melting.