The toxic side to staying put on your board in the swell
When surfing was gaining popularity around the 1930’s, surfboard manufacturers were building in textured surfaces to ensure riders stayed put. The clear downside to this was a completely shredded – and not in the good way – chest and stomach. So along came surf wax – made mostly from paraffin wax, for its stickiness.
Fast forward to today, with around six million bars of wax used each year - and commercial waxes are still made predominantly the same way, using paraffin, crystalline waxes, acrolyn, benzene, toluene, petroleum jelly, and more. The main problem with paraffin is that it’s a by-product of petroleum – so even its production is mega harmful for the world – and that’s before it gets into the ocean. Often, wax comes off surfboard in clumps and marine life can mistake it for plants or food – and ingest all of those nasty toxins.
What makes surfers so radical, though – is that because they’re in the ocean a lot, they tend to love it, and want to look after it. There are now several alternatives for waxes available in the market that are natural and/or organic. These products have moved away from using petrochemical based ingredients and tend to also not add synthetics for colour or smell. You can even make your own alternative to commercial wax using beeswax and plant-based resin. The good news is these options don’t (shouldn’t!) impact your surfing ability one bit – but do greatly impact your ability to keep doing it in a clean, animal-filled ocean for years to come.