Beeswax For Strings

Reviewed By Steve

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The string on a bow is just about the most essential thing to check amongst all your archery equipment, if you do nothing else maintenance wise and just throw your stuff in a cupboard or shed after shooting you really should wax your string regularly.

How often should you wax a string ? well you will do it no harm by checking and waxing it at least once a month - I check mine every time I string the bow to shoot and many a good bow has been damaged by a string breaking which didn't need to.

There are so many types of wax available that you could dedicate a whole website to them, I am sure there probably is one out there.

This review however is about Beeswax, what more natural product could there be, a world away from the synthetic silicon and petroleum based waxes that are sold everywhere.

The main thing with beeswax is that it is hard, at room temperature it is a block and to get it to melt a little requires some heat, I have heard of folks using hair dryers and all sorts on their string wax - Getting beeswax on a string is hard work and if you are making strings it becomes a bit of a pain - sure I could use the softer waxes and make life easy but I like beeswax !!

So here is a little recipe to make your own string wax using natural ingredients

The ingredients are simple. The first and most important is bow rosin. It’s the ingredient that gives this string wax it’s tackiness. It’s refined, natural rosin from various tree species that musicians use to make the bows for their stringed instruments tacky. I learned that it comes in a variety of tackiness levels to accommodate the needs of different instruments and the climate conditions under which they’re used.

The rosins range in colour from dark reddish brown to light honey colour. They’re sold in small, hard, crystalline cakes which, when hit lightly with a hammer, will shatter. Wrap the cake of rosin in a paper towel before breaking it to prevent scattering the pieces. The price ranges from £2.50 up. There’s no reason to use the expensive rosins for this wax. I suggest using a light coloured rosin.

The second ingredient is refined bee’s wax. It’s the ingredient that makes rosin less hard, while maintaining a level of firmness that makes the wax easy to handle. It comes in small cakes and costs about £2.50 per cake.

The third ingredient is ordinary olive oil, available anywhere. It’s the ingredient that adds softness to the wax and makes it easy to apply to strings.

You’ll also need a small saucepan. I recommend getting a cheap one, since the pan won’t be usable for cooking after using it for making wax. Wooden sticks or bamboo skewers can be used to stir the melting ingredients and discarded when finished.

The rosin and bee’s wax both melt at very low heat and over-heating them causes the mix to darken a little. Heat the ingredients enough to thoroughly mix them, but no more. The basic mix isn’t precise because of the differences between various rosins and bee’s waxes, but should be about 2 parts rosin to 1 part, or slightly less, of bee’s wax, by volume. When melted together these ingredients will, after cooling, form a hard, “waxy”-feeling wax. It’s very sticky when in liquid form, but quite hard after it cools. At this point it’s similar to the old style “Cobbler’s Wax” that is valued by some strict traditionalists. It’s certainly a useful wax, but in this form it needs to be warmed in order to soften it so that it can be used. To make the wax usable at normal room temperature (65-75 degrees) it’s necessary to add a small amount of olive oil. Again, because of the variation in materials, there isn’t a precise amount to add. I suggest starting with about 1/8 (by volume) oil of the amount of wax used. A little more can be added at a time to bring the wax to the handling quality that suits you. Use caution when adding the oil, because just a few drops too much will cause the wax to become greasy feeling and less tacky. If you mistakenly add too much oil, you can correct the mix by adding a few more crystals of rosin to bring the tackiness level back up. If you’ve added quite a bit too much oil, it will be necessary to add small amounts of both rosin and bee’s wax to correct it.

While it’s still in liquid form, it’s difficult to tell how tacky your wax will be after the mix cools. To get an idea of the finished product, drop a small amount into a bowl of water. It’ll cool instantly and you can test it with your fingers. If the batch of wax doesn't satisfy your needs, adjust the proportions of ingredients accordingly.

So what is it I am rating ? Beeswax or my recipe for string wax ?? you decide !!

Rating  
   
Features & Design
It's string wax !!
Performance
It waxes strings!
Value for Money half a review mark

This one is tricky because by the time you have bought all the bits you could have bought ready made wax - but here's one for the traditionalists

Overall
Hugely satisfying, and you are more likely to wax your string if you have made your own string wax. This recipie is perfect for Flemmish Twist strings.

 

 


Your Comments

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  • Posted by: Vince Gasaway on Sep 15, 16:19

    Rosin is sold in 1 pound bags for 5.00 a pound at rodeo suppliers . Bull riders use it on gloves and harness ropes.


  • Posted by: Ross Potts on Sep 16, 02:20

    Just started small WRT bowyering. I have tagged a recently downed hickory for splitting in a few weeks. Looked at a few shaping tools, and have also learned how to make
    Flemish twist strings(the daughters are sick of all the bracelets and necklaces!).

    I just finished a beeswax and olive oil recipe and saw this article. Will have to try rosin next time.

    Nice article, just wish I had seen it first.


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