Wax and paracord! How absurd! Or is it?
There has been talk about using wax when working with paracord. The process was first applied to paracord by Manuel Zambrano who used it in his work with leather. Since then, many were interested in the benefits of using wax in combination with paracord. In this article I will cover the basics as well as show you how to work with wax and paracord. I had some good help and advice from Darren Barford, so I would like to thank him for the useful input he provided, which made my work a ton easier.
What are the benefits of applying wax to paracord?
Wax use in paracord crafts is relatively new. Many advantages have already been discovered, some have yet to be. Major benefits include:
- it makes bracelets and jewelry more comfortable to wear
- it protects paracord items from wear, as well as sweat and water! Items will last longer!
- it provides added friction and rougher texture which comes in handy in tight designs and grips
- smells great! (if that is important)
- it makes paracord feel a lot more leather-like. This is especially evident when using gutted paracord
Is it worth it? In my opinion it is. It is one of those neat little tricks of the trade that they do not teach you in paracord school.
Getting some wax puns off my chest
I am sorry, but before I go any further in this article I have to get rid of some puns which would reduce the quality of this article if they got out in the wrong places:
- Wax on, wax off (Mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid)
- Getting waxed (women, who understands them?)
- Mind your beeswax (mind your own business)
That feels much better, let’s get waxin!
Before or after…or both?
You can apply wax onto the cord before doing your project, after or both. It depends entirely upon the results you would like. In my experience, ff you apply it before, it gets absorbed into the cord easier. After is nice if you just want a protective layer and applying wax both times is for those projects that are really high value, since it takes time to do it.
After I did my first project, which was waxing a fishtail paracord bracelet I realized how to use wax, or rather, how it works great for me. If you apply the wax before you make the project, meaning on the cord itself, you have the ability to remove the bits that are left before you make your item. This will ensure no wax is left anywhere, other than on the cord.
If you apply the wax after the project is done, it hardens on the surface. This can then be removed by applying heat, but some of the wax gets into the spaces between the cords. But fear not. After the wax hardens, simply use a hard brush to brush off the wax that hardened between the cords.
Beeswax or paraffin?
Although you decide what works for you, I like natural bees wax for many reasons. It is more friendly to the body, it smells great, it does not irritate the skin and somehow, the texture is a lot better (in my opinion). I simply used the leftovers of some candles I had lying around.
Paraffin wax on the other hand is usually cheaper.
Applying hot wax is naturally risky, if done without regard for safety. Getting burned, as Darren Barford says, feels like napalm. I mean, I do love the smell of napalm in the morning, just not on me! So take the necessary precautions!
How to apply wax
You can apply wax dry, by simply rubbing it on. This is a good way to do it. The alternative I will describe is to melt it and then apply it.
I prefer to apply wax after the project is done. You can choose to do it before, the process I used to apply wax to a bracelet looked like this:
- I put the wax into a ceramic cup, put the in a larger pot full of water and heated it. The wax melted slowly.
- I then used a toothbrush (you can use a regular, cheap brush, I just found the toothbrush to be more robust) to dip into wax and apply it all over my bracelet.
- I waited a bit for the wax to harden, then took a cooking paddle and placed the bracelet on it
- I put the paddle over boiling water and let the heat do its work. It sweat the wax into and off the bracelet as well as tightened it up a bit. I turned the bracelet around a few times for all sides to be worked on evenly.
- After that I let the wax harden again. The small bits of wax left between the cords were brushed out using a hard brush.
Darren Barford suggested using a hot air gun to work with the wax. I think it is a great idea to try out. Again, mind safety!
I am happy with the result. I still need to consider the use of wax in making bracelets, but the one I made feels awesome! The extra effort involved does make me wonder if this is practical for larger quantities.
In short, the applications for wax in my opinion are:
- grips! The leather like texture provides added friction and durability to paracord
- on gutted paracord. It just looks and feels a lot better.
- select, high value projects. I just love my new, waxed bracelet!
Thank you for reading this article and you know, mind your own beeswax. Duh! Almost finished without a silly overused pun. Well, better luck next time!
I’m new to Para cording and think waxing would be great! It makes the bracelets look better, softer, smoother looking.
Thanks for the article.
Or got the (nearly) cold way: homemade wax tincture/spray.
Beeswax is soluble in hydrocarbons like benzine or brake cleaner (the “good” ones consisting of low-boiling aliphatics, other ones often contain harmful substances like toluol). Put both together, slightly heat the soup up while stirring until the wax has dissolved. Apply with a brush or spray it on or via dousing in. Thickness of the wax coating is easily adjustiable via the concentration.
I used (and use) this for wax coatings on carton, steel, wooden knife handle, cord and much more.
If filled into any kind of spray bottle, be aware that the wax hardens partially at room temperature, so get the whole pumping system clean after use and slightly warm up before next use.
Where do you get it?
i do lots of DIY paracord stuff, and i also use lots of paraffin for stuff. i NEVER thought to use them together. just finished a quick deploy fishtail bracelet, and waxed it!! i just got the paraffin to melt in high heat boiling water and dipped the bracelet in until it was coated THROUGH with the wax, letting bubbles of air escape and smooshing more out as i went along with a skewer. freezing now!! thanks!!
Thank you for the info!!
Good stuff! I’m glad to see someone out there is making content like this. I’ve always been a fan of waxed stuff and think everyone should prefer the use of beeswax over paraffin. This has definitely motivated me to make some quality waxed paracord items.