Guide: How to wax your outdoor clothes
By caring for your outdoor clothing, you can both extend its life and maintain its original functionality. An example is re-impregnating with wax, which preserves the garment's durability and water resistance.
Waxing is an impregnation technique that has been used for hundreds of years. It has been practised by professionals in virtually all outdoor professions, but it most likely originated in the fishing and maritime industries.
Many of our garments are made from a special cotton/polyester fabric. Partly because it’s extremely durable, partly because it possesses the functional properties we are looking for, and partly because it’s easy to maintain for long and practical use. On delivery, all our cotton/polyester products have a basic impregnation, in which the garments have undergone an environmentally-friendly waxing process during production.
How often do clothes need to be re-impregnated?
There is no universal answer as to exactly when or how often an item of clothing needs to be re-impregnated. After a few washes and regular use, the wax will eventually wear off. Often, you will notice this by a gradual deterioration in water and wind resistance. Different parts of the garments are also differently exposed and may need to be waxed more frequently.
With trousers, the knees, seat and lower legs may need to be waxed more frequently. On jackets it’s usually the hood, cuffs and the lower back which need more frequent waxing. In addition to being waxed more regularly, these areas can also do well with extra layers of wax. If you are preparing for an outdoor adventure in a wet and windy environment, it may be a good idea to wax exposed areas as a preventative measure before you go on your expedition.
Which materials can be waxed?
Not all textile materials are suitable for wax impregnation. However, more dense cotton fabrics, such as denim and canvas, benefit greatly from waxing, as do blends containing cotton and polyester. However, fully synthetic fabrics, including membrane materials, are less suitable for waxing. Such textiles don’t allow the wax to sink into the fabric, but only create an outer film that is quickly worn off.
Waxing at home
It is possible to apply wax to garments using several different techniques. What they all have in common is that you first apply the wax to the areas you want to impregnate and then apply heat so that the wax melts into the textile fabric.
Step 1: Clean and dry
Make sure that the garment is reasonably clean and completely dry.
Step 2: Apply the wax
Apply the wax by rubbing it on the part of the garment you want to re-impregnate. Apply an even layer so that a thin white film is formed.
Step 3: Apply heat
The wax melts at 55-60°C and then sinks into and is absorbed by the textile fibres. In this way, maximum resistance is achieved. The heat can come from various sources, the mest proven and convenient of which are listed below:
- Clothing iron
- Hair dryer
- Tumblr dryer
Step 4: Removal of excess wax
If there is any excess wax that hasn't been absorbed into the fabric after applying heat, you may wipe it off with a towel or a brush.
Step 5: Repeat (in moderation)
If you want to add additional wax to all or a part of the garment, just repeat the process from step 2 onwards. However, bear in mind that more is not always better. From a practical point of view, more than three layers of wax is rarely advisable, as the garment risks becoming too stiff, making it uncomfortable to wear.
If you want to enhance the garment's water resistance while outdoors, the process is the same as if you were doing it at home, with the only difference mainly being the heat sources mentioned in step 3.
An obvious solution is to do it over an open fire. However, open fires are difficult to control, and if you get too close, there is always the risk that the garment will catch fire. Before relying on this method, we urge caution and extensive training.
Instead, we recommend an alternative method that is much safer, which is to use a metal container (such as a water bottle or kettle) containing hot water. Don't forget to wear suitable gloves so you don't burn yourself!
By regularly caring for and re-impregnating your outdoor clothing as needed, they will last longer and keep you more comfortable in wet and windy environments. Keep in mind that practice makes perfect, so don't be afraid to try the waxing methods described above, both at home and in the great outdoors, and you'll soon realise that it's both easy and effective.
Garphyttan Original Wax
Like its predecessor, our new Original Wax contains 50% beeswax and 50% paraffin, a well tried and tested combination for enviromentally-friendly impregnation. What's new is the practical container that makes applying and storing the wax much easier.