Applying our Magic Beeswax couldn’t be easier. Simply follow these steps to give your favourite pack not only a protective barrier against moisture and rain, but also increase its durability and toughness against bushes, thorns, and even against campfire embers.
- Ensure your pack is clean and dry to begin with. This will allow for better coverage and penetration.
- Rub the wax bar over your material, making sure to concentrate particularly in areas where there are seams or stitching, as these will be the areas of your bag most likely to allow rain in. This process is much easier if the wax bar has been slightly heated or warmed, making it softer and easier to spread.
- Once the entire pack has been covered, the waxed needs to be absorbed into the cotton fibres for it to do its job. We do this by melting it and allow it to impregnate the fibres. We recommend this is done with a hair dryer on a medium heat. If in the field, this can be done carefully over campfire embers (not open flame!) or over a gas stove.
- And you’re done! Test by applying some water. If it beads and falls away then you are good to go. Repeat the steps as necessary.
How it works
Our goods are made from a heavy duty, tightly woven canvas. The downside of using this rugged material is the fact that cotton is a hollow fibre material, meaning it will take on and hold water and moisture. This makes the material heavy when it gets wet and it’s difficult to dry out. However when the YKRA Magic Beeswax is applied and then heated into the fabric, those hollow cotton fibres take on and hold the wax instead. Impregnating the fabric with heat, means that the fibres swell and tighten together with the presence of the wax, creating a protective barrier that will not allow water to be absorbed by the fabric, but will instead run off!
Why Waxed Cotton
Waxed canvas has been around for a very long time! And there is a reason it still exists today, despite advances in modern technology and outdoor materials and fabrics. It is known for its durability and longevity, as well as its ability to adapt to the environment. It becomes softer and looser in hot weather, and tight and tough in the colder seasons, which is why it is so popular for outdoor clothing. Reapplying the wax when necessary to your product will keep it soft, supple and weather resistant for many years to come. Over time, a natural patina and creases will form in the product, adding to its character and story as a companion with you on your adventures.
The History of Waxed Cotton
In the early 15th century, sailors on the ocean realised that when their sails were wet, they worked much better, because the cotton fibres would expand and absorb water, making for a thicker and tighter material. This made it much more difficult for the wind to pass through the sails, and the result was that they could catch more wind and carry the ships faster.
Of course it was impossible to keep these sails wet all the time, particularly in sunny or hot climates. The sailors came up with a solution of rubbing grease and oils like linseed oil and fish oils into the material to keep the desired effect. A by-product of this solution made them impervious to rain and moisture also, and so they began using cutoffs and scraps from their sails to fashion cloaks and hoods, keeping them dry and warm on the relentless oceans.
The problem with the oils they were using was both the smell and the longevity of their effectiveness, often cracking in cold weather, and melting off the fabric in hotter weather. But in 1830, paraffin wax was invented. A colourless soft wax that could be used in place of the older oils used, and so waxed cotton was born.
This guide has been assembled by Padraig Croke, who is an avid bushcraft and outdoor enthusiast, spoon carver and hiker. He is the co-host of The Trial by Fire Podcast, a bi-weekly podcast dedicated to all things bushcraft and outdoors. He is also an admin at the Living to Learn online community and lead designer of The Bushcraft Journal Magazine.
In the Trial by Fire Podcast, Padraig Croke and Joe Price discuss all things buscraft and outdoor. You can find all episodes on TrialByFire, and all of them are available by searching for 'The Trial by Fire Podcast' on iTunes, Spotify, and Stitcher. And do follow The Trial by Fire podcast on Instagram.
Thanks Padraig for this review!