Hardware store OTC wax remover chemical HELP

I recently shipped my boards from WA state (cold water) to my new residence in HI (warm water).  I scraped all cold water wax I could, even in the sun to melt it, washed with hot water and soap with a good rinse.  I can still feel a residue.  I know I have seen a chemical base wax remover for cleaning surfboards, however none of the surf shops carry it here in Hawaii where I am at. Shipping charges are crazy for a small bottle of the actual surf wax remover.


Is there something I can pick up that will do the same job from a hardware store that is safe on surfboards?


Thanks guys.



I've been using plain old paint thinner for the longest time and havent had any problems.

I've been using plain old paint thinner for the longest time and havent had any problems.

I've been using plain old paint thinner for the longest time and havent had any problems.

Maybe try a little gasonline or lighter fluid… then a good soap and hot water wash?

NJ has the right idea. Lighter fluid that you use to start your charcoal works great and is plenty cheap. Once the wax is off, wash with soap and water and your board will be like new, except for all those dings.


There’s a difference between the following 2 types of petroleum-based solvents:  Lacquer Thinner, and Mineral Spirits. They both come in identical tin cans.

Both should be available at your local hardware.

Thinner is mucho more potent, and will dissolve the resin on your board if enough quantity is used and for too long a while. Actually, a good shaper friend uses thinner instead of acetone in his shop (I dunno why…) for his squeegees and paint brushes. It will also burn your skin severely. If that happens, neutralize it immediately with baby oil.

Now, Mineral Spirits is a milder compound, and it will effectively dissolve the wax on your board without damaging the glassjob. It is oily like diesel fuel. It will not burn your skin unless you bathe in it for a while. The same shaper I mentioned above turned me on to this compound for easily and effectively removing wax from surfboards. It’s also THE shit for removing glues (like that old trac top glue still stuck to the deck of the board).

In one of the largest local surfshops over here, they have a gallon of Sticky Bumps Wax Remover that smells pretty good. When I saw it in action, I observed the similarities with plain old Mineral Spirits. I guessed what they paid for it, and it immediately occurred to me that the “Surf Wax Removers” you see in the market are nothing more than Mineral Spirits with a good oil-compatible fragrance added to it. Then sold to you and me at 10x the price.

Also, like someone mentioned above, after you’re done removing the wax with the Mineral Spirits you can wash the board with soap/detergent and water and it will be as squeaky-clean as it ever was or will be…

Good luck.

I have never tried gasoline, but if it works like the mineral spirits I use then gasoline is way cheaper (YEAH!!!).


Forget the chemicals, not needed.  Easiest and most effective way to strip wax is to use a hair dryer.  Whenever I’m going to put a board into a shop to sell, or taking a trip out of my cold water to warm water, I just scrape as much wax off as I can, get my wifes hair dryer and and an old towel, start from one end, gun on medium heat and air, just heat up a small section at a time, rub off the now almost liquid wax with the towel, do another section and use a fresh piece of the towel…works good enough that I’ve installed traction pads on the tails that were formerly waxed, and never had them come off.

    Howzit originalin, Actually if you scapped most of the cold water wax off then you should be OK and as you rewax the board the old wax will come off and the new wax will replace it so I would just use some sticky bumps and go surf. Aloha,Kokua

Does anyone remember sawdust, or foam dust?   I know Kokua does.    Zero residue.

   Howzit Bill, I think i remember something about it,ha,ha,.I always liked to use saw dust since i was very available,then I would  make candles and they were a trip,didn't want to burn the foam though. Although I have use the Charcoal starter or any oil based fuel I think. Aloha,Kokua 

I'm no tree hugger...I thought the goal was to use fewer chemicals....you know...save the trees....

Scrape wax with tool...sunshine helps...

Old hair dryer at full speed...old man with paper towels.....clean her up!

Oh yeah......I love oil and coal......Where does resin come from?

we're hugg'n trees and wiping down boards with paint thinner..........wrong.....




Sawdust or baby powder or shaping dust (PU) scrubbed with a bunched up fluffy washcloth works.


If you want instant gratification buy “The Pickle” which is basically pantyhose filled with shaping dust that works like a charm.  Takes off +99% of it with that.  If you insist on returning the board to “factory sheen” you could wipe it down with rubbing alcohol and a rag.

I strip old wax this way. Leave the board in direct sunlight just long enough to soften wax. Scrape as much as possible with a plastic spatula, old credit card, or plastic bondo spreader. To get the last bit of film off I use an old towel or a white cotton athletic sock, turned inside-out. So easy, even a cave man can do it.

Although I haven’t used it yet, a good friend swears by it. I am referring to “The Pickle”. And that friend said the exact same thing about its composition as somebody above mentioned, which is that “The Pickle” is easily constructed by filling up a panty hose with the foamdust you find all over the floor inside a shaper’s bay. You then scrub the deck with it AFTER you’ve removed as much wax as possible with sun-warming and scraping.

So you could try that and see if it does the job.

My Dad taught me the hair-dryer technique when I was a kid. Its purpose is to facilitate the removal of the bulk of the wax, and then some.  Works great if there’s no sunshine going on. If there’s good sun, save the trees and save some few cents on electrical power and skip the hair-dryer.

But in my personal experience, the mineral spirits will very effectively clean up any wax residue to the very molecular level. Without damaging the glassjob. So that board will truly be squeaky-clean, which is what I understood you were trying to accomplish.



Nice poem. There’s talent there…

As Kokua pointed out - Unless you “need” to get it perfectly clean and shiny, just wax it up…  It’s all I do when I travel from coldish Oregon waters to warm tropical climes…  I even save the old wax for when I get home, and the tropical wax makes a nice base…  

A beautiful lady in panty hose rubbing the wax off a surf board , What a turn-on !!!

     Howzit stingray, If you think about what I do it is really recycleing the wood and the old wax so at least I am using it secondhand. Aloha,Kokua