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Hate to Say it, But Surf Wax is Shit for the Environment!

Updated: Feb 10, 2021

I’m having one of the best surfs I have had in a long time, the perfect way to end a vacation away in the mountains. As per usual, I lather my board in Mrs Palmers to ensure I get the best grip while out in the water. Waiting for the next set I notice a few slices of wax drifting off my board and floating along the ocean. It is only now I study the drifting pieces and wonder how many other surfers have lost wax while out surfing? By my estimation, there are over 100 people spread out across the coastline today alone. If each surfer lost one or two slices of wax, that’s quite the bundle of wax left behind to float in the ocean endlessly.

Surf wax is a staple for all surfers, since its creation in 1935, a claim made by Alfred E Gallant, he noticed the grip of his damp feet after his mother applied floor wax, she then advised the use of household paraffin sealing wax. Today, surf wax generates billions in revenue worldwide with brands such as Sticky Bumps, Mrs Palmers, and Mr. Zog’s as the more renowned surf wax companies. For the unknown reader, surf wax is essential in giving you the desired grip to stand tall on any wave, as fruitful and tropical surf wax seems, surf wax itself, is just shit for the environment.

Paraffin, the word you know, but know little about.

Most, if not all, big-branded surf wax companies use paraffin as the main source to the products. As innocent as this sounds, paraffin is a by-product of petroleum. To create paraffin, you first have to process petroleum. The problem is that the process used is environmentally destructive. A lot of toxic chemicals are used in creating paraffin, the most common chemical used is acrolein, which also causes cancer. By the time the surf wax hits the commercial markets, there are other chemicals added such as benzene and toluene, which have been determined by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as probable human carcinogens.

As wax breaks off surfboards, this becomes harmful for both surfers and the marine ecosystem. Since wax does not disintegrate, it casually bobs on the ocean until it is mistakenly ingested by marine life, human, or eventually sinks to the ocean floor polluting the very thing surfers try to protect; the ocean. This creates a negative impact on the places we visit, now more than ever we should consider our carbon footprint and reducing the number of toxins entering the ocean.

Environmental awareness is on a turn, now more than ever we are noticing the destruction and harm we are causing the planet. Plastic will hopefully become a thing of the past (fingers crossed), but for now, we are still in a struggle to clean the oceans of plastic which has polluted our waters. Add in the mix of petroleum-based toxins also filling the waters and simply put, surfers are just adding more problems rather than becoming part of the solution. It’s a sad reality that unfortunately has got little to no attention, with our mindsets focused on plastics etc. we have forgotten or been made to forget that something as sweet and innocent as surf wax is also ruining the ecosystem.

What’s the Solution?

The most infuriating part about this is that the solution is simple and fairly effective. Here’s the secret, surf wax can be made with no harmful chemicals and still be just as effective as the big-name brands. Surf wax can be created with just 3 simple ingredients; beeswax, tree sap, and coconut oil, no bullshit! All-natural and resourceful materials that can ensure maximum grip and a more eco-friendly solution to reduce pollution in the waters.

So why haven’t surf companies adopted this non-toxic method? Greed. As stated earlier, the industry for surf wax generates billions and, in their eyes, money is worth more than protecting the oceans. The companies you know and love are giving you the tools to help contribute in polluting the waters. This may sound ‘out there’ or slightly on the tone of ‘hippyish’ but every surfer has a connection towards the ocean and wants to do right in protecting it, that’s why it is important to know what products you are dumping into the ocean.

Paraffin based waxes should be a thing of the past. The world has moved forward and hopefully, we are starting the see the importance of what damage we are creating on the planet. Just like fossil fuels and fracking, using paraffin is an outdated method which has had its time and needs to be retired. Obviously, getting rid of paraffin and using natural products isn’t the solution of all solutions to all the problems with the ocean, but it’s a fucking start.

For more information on purchasing eco-friendly surf wax check out:

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