Does anyone remember the distinctive purple ‘Waxmate’ surf wax of the late 60s and early 70s? I bought my first block in 1973 and recently acquired an original 72’ block from Casey at the Surf Wax Museum. I have given up waiting for someone to re-launch this wax and decided to research and produce a few blocks to see if I could replicate the same scent formula and ‘special’ additive used in the original bars, my hand mixed and poured block of wax is as close as I think you can get to the original without the use of a time machine. Waxmate was probably the surf world’s No.1 bar of surf wax during this early period of surfing evolution and famously featured on the iconic poster for the surf film ‘Five Summer Stories’ in 1972 and I have been using it for a few weeks and transported back to the halcyon days of my youth. It smelt great then and still smells good now!
The original formulation was done by Steve Knorr, of Knorr Candles in Rancho Santa Fe, just east of Solana Beach. As I recall the ‘‘secret’’ additive was … (drum roll)… motor oil. I think the scent was grape. I used the purple Waxmate from its beginning. I liked it. I would apply a base coat of Parowax paraffin, and finish off with a topcoat of the softer Waxmate.
I hated that stuff. Not a fan of the scent, either. There was a brand called “Surf Wax” in the 60s that came in three colors and three temp formulas. Cold, cool, and warm water. It was round and came in a paper ‘cup’ similar to a cupcake paper. It was much better than Waxmate since it didn’t crumble and roll into little bits when you applied it. I swear they made Waxmate wasteful on purpose so you’d go through a bar faster and buy more. I seem to remember reading (somewhere) that the ‘secret’ ingredient in Waxmate was motor oil. Before Sex Wax came along I used to buy wax by the case from Heritage Surf Co. in NJ. You couldn’t buy wax where I lived back then, so I’d get a case and sell bars to my friends out of the trunk of my car. I paid .10 a bar and sold it for .25
Lately I’ve gone to using candle wax for my base coat. Just grab a candle and start rubbing. At first I was using a heat gun to soften it, but found it really wasn’t necessary. Just rubbing works fine. Then I give it a quick once over with surf wax before I paddle out. Sorry for the hijack. I vaguely remember that stuff.
In my early days we would melt the paraffin in a coffee can and brush on ( or hot wax) for the base coat and dip candle wax on( your mom’s red, yellow green or whatever candles) and “char marks” were a badge of honor.
My buddy and I used to melt paraffin, then dip a paint brush in the wax and splatter it on to get texture in the wax job. We’d also use boiling hot water to melt off old wax when it was time for a new coat. Imagine doing that to one of today’s lightweight boards? You’d delam the thing in seconds.
Oh, and here’s a Heritage label I still have, plus a copy of the old Surf Wax company’s ad
Yeah, agreed the originals were a bit flaky in use…probably too much motor oil additive softner? My experimental block is holding up well though, I guess the base parrafin wax has also improved from days of old. I will lobb in some 30 weight mineral oil as the special additive next to see how that works! The guy who makes up the wax for me is a wax genius and uses lab analysis to perfect his formulas…
We use to “hot” wax our boards in the '60’s. Add paraffin, and a bit of vasiline into a coffee can over the gas grill to melt it all together. Apply to your board with an old paint brush. At the time it seemed to work well. Caution should be taken with the paraffin over the open flame. A double boiler was suggested to reduce flair-ups.
Waxzilla, I would recommend Gulfwax as a starting point. Stay away from Parowax, they changed there formula and it’s very flakey. When selecting a box of Gulfwax open the box and look at the bars from the end, if it’s uniform color throughout then it’s good. If it’s whited out in the core then reject it. It’s kind of like selecting lumber.
Also, SHACC was giving away some purple wax they had made that resembled waxmate. Worked pretty good too.1
Thats really interesting, someone mentioned that Sticky Bumps had relaunched Waxmate some years back, perhaps it was the SHACC blocks. These retro scented waxes are clearly commercially unviable, but strikes me there must be a niche for a small discerning section of the market…the gentlemans retro surf wax! I have a few blocks for personal use and its had really good feedback locally, I’ll persevere with perfecting the formula and who knows…stick on some old David Crosby and drift on back!
I packed a bunch of those into gift bags at the vintage board auction that was at the oc fair grounds. Do you still have any of yours? I can vaguely remember the packaging. I don’t think it said anything about who made it though.
On a side note. My neighbor uses this stuff called waxy wax. Made by a guy in seal beach but it comes in a ton of different colors.