Traditional fabric waterproofing is popular all over the world, currently being used from the U.K to Iceland and the United States to the Poles. Hunters, Fishermen, Arctic Explorers and James Bond rely on waxed outerwear to protect them from the elements.
Traditional waxed canvas has solidified into two common styles, flat and duck; the later is a thicker weave and takes on a firm feel. The main difference between duck and flat canvas lies in thread count. Canvas is known for its coarser weave, while duck boasts a smooth feel, thanks to its high thread count.
This tradition got its start when British sailors figured out that oiled sails cut the breeze and lasted longer. Before long, they were chopping up worn out sails and crafting simple waterproof parkas. Unfortunately, they would stink after a long outing at sea. So, a replacement for whale oil was needed.
Paraffin wax blends became the standard of the day and had the added benefit of strengthening the fabric it was applied to. The canvas wax blends of the turn of the century were used by explorers like Ernest Shackleton, Rauld Amundsen, Edmond Hillary and Robert Falcon Scott amongst many others. So, with success comes fame and business opportunity. The Barbour brand was born and still can’s traditional paraffin wax today. Although, after the Hartford Circus Fire of 1944, the brand was somewhat tarnished.
Where to Buy Canvas Wax?
Although Barbour continues to can Paraffin, a multitude of new brands can be found on Amazon and Etsy at a lower price point. But, there is a rabble rousing group of innovators in Thorndale who are taking the market by storm. Hawk Tools keeps things “Studly” and natural with beeswax and their HT Blend for use on synthetic and blended fibers, adding Tylol to the mix. Incredibly, ultra-binding Tylol like all Hawk Tools products was developed and is made at their facility. Unlike the flammable and carcinogenic spray’s like Scotchgard available from big box stores, Fabric Weatherproofing is completely inert and food grade.
With the growing number of people searching for adventure in the outdoors, rain proof gear and the need for durable fabric wax are at an all-time high. So, Hawk Tools triple digit growth is evidence of this trend.
Uses of Canvas Wax
Canvas wax is renowned for use on jackets and sails but it has a broader appeal. Your bimi top, convertible top, bow cover, boat covers to name a few water faring uses. Additionally, your canvas bag, pants, hat, tent, aircraft cover, gazebo and any other fabric in need of water repellency makes a perfect candidate.
An added bonus, modern fabric weatherproofing wax drastically increases the strength and wear resistance of the fabric it is applied to. It coats the fibers and eliminates the wear and fraying which leads to tears and permanent wrinkles. Also, waxes reenforced with Tylol cannot break down in UV light and can be maintained with little effort almost indefinitely. Equally important, for heavy duty materials, use a fabric dressing that can soak deep into fibers.
Is the Canvas Wax Water-resistant?
Common waxes will repel water for a time but will begin to degrade and dry out, requiring oiling from time to time. A modern blend from Hawk Tools will maintain a waterproof barrier for years, only needing minor touch ups in areas of high wear or damage. Ok, so nobody condones using wax canvas in your submarine, but driving rain will be kept a bay.
Does Canvas Wax Block Stains?
Waxed material is waterproof so stains cannot take hold. The wax takes up any room in the fabric where a stain could penetrate. That being said, over time, a patina will begin to form from hard use that adds to its character. So, if you want to get an idea of what this might look like, check out Daniel Craig in his hit movie Skyfall. But, if you want that factory new appearance, a simple pass with your hair dryer will pull the wax back into the fibers for that uniform look.
Let’s get back to nasty stains. If you spill something like paint or roll around in the mud all day, a simple scrub in a bucket of water will do perfectly. Of course, for really nasty mishaps, sprinkle some corn starch on the bugger and leave it for 48 hours before scrubbing it again. Just make sure to add back any wax that was removed and you’re golden.
How Long Does Waxed Canvas Last?
Over time, waxed fabric will develop a rugged appearance from use. This is due to the constant wear and tear of any normal use. Regardless, the waterproof performance will stay the same for years and decades if you use proper care.
Can You Wash Waxed Canvas in a Washing Machine?
Do not wash any waxed canvas gear in your washing machine. It will coat everything in a layer of milky wax crud. There are detailed care instructions on most product labels so follow directions! For larger bimi tops and canvas tarps use a hose and scrub brush. Again, never run anything through the washing machine and never use powerful cleaners of detergent. Please leave a comment if you have any questions.
Instructions for Cleaning Waxed Linen Step by Step
This is a simple step by step guide. Hawk Tools has an excellent article about the canvas waxing process.
- Grab a bucket, hard bristle brush, fabric wax and some water.
- Let any stains dry before you begin.
- Brush off any dirt with your brush.
- Wash any remaining stains with water and a small amount of light soap if needed.
- Let it dry for at least an hour and touch up any bare spots with your wax bar.
- Enjoy your clean waxed linen!
Why Use Waxed Canvas?
Because only the best use waxed canvas. Notably, adventurers, motorcyclists and those who live a rugged lifestyle rely on their gear to keep them dry. Modern wax from the likes of Hawk Tools infuses new tech into century old waterproofing. Moreover, into modern marine applications and synthetic materials. Never before could you sport a classic look from the golden age of exploration and stay dry through gale force wind and rain. Now, go forth and conquer your next horizon with confidence and a dry anorak.