Is Surfboard Wax Harmful To Reefs & Marine Life?
The oceans have long been friendly to us since the dawn of humanity by helping providing bountiful sources of food, regulating our climates and of course the amazing recreational activities we all love to enjoy – especially SURFING!
There is an endless avenue for us to have fun and enjoy what the ocean and it's waves have to offer us. No one can deny the joy that comes to the heart when you paddle out to catch some tubes or hang ten after a stressful week at work (or before starting work).
The experience of gliding down a crystal-clear perfect wave is something that words can never describe, to have dolphins spring up or sea turtles surround you is a pure natural euphoria. But how often do we stop take time to consider the effect of our activities on the waters and the lives existing within it?
I am sure a lot already do which is fantastic but until recently I was one of many surfers who was completely oblivious to the fact that a lot of surfboard waxes are highly toxic to the very oceans and marine life that we love. I just assumed all wax was biodegradable and didn’t have any environmental impacts – Well I was ignorantly wrong.
Is surfboard wax toxic?
Petrochemicals are the main ingredient in a lot of popular brands of surf wax, these petrochemicals are toxic to the environment and use a huge amount of energy. These waxes are produced primarily with paraffin, which is dangerous because it's a final byproduct of the refining process of petroleum.
The wax undergoes a bleaching process which leads to the emission of dioxins - I could go on with chemical pollutant talk but you get the idea, it’s a toxic chemical that can have dangerous effects on aquatic animals. With continuous surfing, as we all know the wax on our boards eventually comes off our boards through continued use.
Though research and studies vary in conclusions it has was estimated that over 90% of surfboard wax on the market contained petrochemicals including paraffin. That’s the vast majority of the entire surf wax market. Combine this with approx. 25+ million surfers worldwide and it quickly adds up to a lot of toxic petrochemicals going into our oceans and potentially harming the reef and marine life. Especially now that surfing is about to become an Olympic sport and wave pools are allowing access to landlocked areas that would never have been able to surf its important to consider the fact that something a small as surfboard wax can potentially have an impact on marine life and the reefs in large enough amounts.
Surfing without toxic effects on waters and why organic and eco-friendly Wax?
The careful consideration of the impact that paraffin and petroleum wax as on the oceans and planet has led to the innovation of eco-friendly/organic surf wax. These products are produced by using natural (non petrochemical) ingredients instead of the infamous petrochemicals or synthetic products.
Unlike some traditional waxes which is made of paraffin, organic wax or eco friendly wax can undergo bio-degradation into a harmless product. Instead of petrochemicals and paraffin these eco surf waxes can contain organic ingredients such as beeswax or soy wax along with other natural and biodegraded nontoxic ingredients. Beeswax is naturally sourced from bees while soy based waxes are sourced and extracted from the soybean. I need to mention that some soy wax based products can be sourced by unethical, unsustainable methods and is just as harmful to the planet so it’s important to ensure any soy wax products are sustainable/ethically grown and harvested.
Everyone wants a sticky high performing surf wax - It’s frustrating taking the drop only to slide right off your board missing an awesome wave. At the end of the day these eco-friendly and organic surf waxes give you the exact same performance and tact as the paraffin/petrochemical surf waxes but they have no negative effect and don’t contaminate the water like their paraffin counterparts. A quick glance at the wax packaging will normally indicate whether its made from natural ingredients, though some companies do "Greenwash" their products most will be genuinely transparent as to whether the wax is eco friendly or not.
We aren’t saying you must stop using petrochemical surf wax immediately and start using eco-friendly surf waxes (we hate that kind of attitude) - But we literally have a giant garbage patch floating in the Pacific ocean so at the very least when your buying your surfboard wax next just consider the eco-friendly alternatives because you have literally nothing to lose when the quality and performance of eco friendly waxes matches that of the best brands.
Aloha & Good Waves!