The look and functionality of a waxed cotton jacket - like those made by Filson, Belfast, and Barbour - is hard to beat. Water resistant, easily repairable and timeless these coats look good new but look even better with age, like raw denim or a great leather bag - unfortunately like heavy raw denim or fine leather waxed cotton can be pricey and take some additional work to maintain compared to more modern synthetic fabrics. You can, however, take almost any cotton, canvas, or denim gear - from jackets to tarps and bags to boots - and give them them that special look and feel that only wax can provide.

I transformed my warm and reliable, but waterproof as a sponge, thermal lined rigid duck jacket from Dickies and turned it into my go-to stay dry and stay warm jacket. The coating is starting to wear to a leather like shine and looks better every day.

There is a great 'ible for tincloth - a similar coating made with Linseed Oil and Beeswax - and commercially available Otter Wax and 'ible for using commercially available wax to waterproof a Carhartt coat. This recipe and technique gives the best of both recipes and can be used not only on new fabric items but to refresh old ones, condition and protect leather, repair squeaking drawers, and help lubricate screws. It is, however, terrible on toast and too thick to use as a mustache wax.

Step 1: What You Need

I promised to keep it cheep - this recipe makes 8 oz by weight for about half the price of Otter Wax and doesn't require any special equipment and will provide a very heavy initial coating for a single jacket with enough left over for later touch ups. You can also do a thinner coat for less dramatic effects, I had decent water resistance over the whole jacket with about one ounce rubbed on from a solid block instead of brushing on while melted.

4 oz. Paraffin Wax (aka Household Wax, aka Canning Wax) (1 lb Gulfwax $7.25 on Amazon Prime)
4 oz Beeswax Pellets (1 lb Organic $12.39, or 4 oz for $6.87)
Aluminum Foil
(3) 3 oz Paper Cups - Optional (100 White Paper Water Water Cups $6.66)

Containers and Equipment
Kitchen Scale
Double Boiler ('ible) - You can also attempt to use your microwave, crock pot, or candle wax heater
Disposable Paintbrush - 1/2" - 1 1/2" (only needed for Heavy Duty coating)
Heat Gun - You can use a propane torch (like I did), or a blow drier (takes FOREVER) in a pinch.
Cutting Board
Funnel - Optional
Cupcake Tin - Optional

I plan to do this on a jacket and a bag when I get the supplies (including the bags, haha). I've read online that you can put the item in a pillowcase, tie it off, and put it in a clothes dryer for 15ish minutes and get a really nice even look, so that's what I'm going to try.
I haven't tried that, sound like a great alternative to ironing. Be sure to pay pictures here when you are done.
The results stand on their own, literally! ;)
Featured for pun. <3
I will definitely be doing this, already have lots of both waxes on hand from other projects. Will probably melt with a heat gun instead of a torch; and I bet even an embossing gun would do a better job than a hair dryer. Also, a great source for beeswax and whatnot, is <a href="https://www.bulkapothecary.com/product/raw-ingredients/waxes-and-butters/beeswax-white-and-yellow/" rel="nofollow">Bulk Apothecary,</a> $8.91 for a pound of beeswax in your choice of yellow or white.<br> Nice Instructable.
Nice! I used Amazon because Prime had free 2 day shipping, but I may hit these folks up for some white beeswax for some other projects.<br><br>I tried for months finding a beekeeper locally that had wax to sell or trade without any luck before breaking down and ordering online.
Quick tip: amazon and many other places carry NEW empty lip-balm tubes and NEW empty deodorant sticks that would work even better than the raw block
Thanks! The deodorant stick idea is FANTASTIC. I'm working on using some of the leftover beeswax to make lip balm and mustache wax so will defiantly be putting in an order.
Glad to find this tutorial. I have previously finished a Summer oilcloth shirt jacket but am eager to try the waxed canvas method too. I picked up a pound of paraffin and beeswax. My question, is there a requirement to the strength of the heat gun needed to evenly disputes the wax? I'm going to need to purchase one and would like to spend as little a possible. I found one that's 1500 watts (572 degrees/ 1112 degrees), is that adequate? Or, does the method of hand applying the wax, then putting in a pillow case in the dryer at high heat give the same results as the heat gun? Thanks
<p>I did this to a pair of Duluth FireHose pants. </p><p>Better than the heat gun, torch or hair dryer is a cloths dryer, preferably not yours and a industrial one at the Laundromat. </p><p>Turn it inside out and add 2 shoes to beat it. Run for 2 cycles at max heat.</p><p>This will melt and disperse the wax evenly, as well as soften the cotton wax combo preventing it from being wax armor and speeding up the process.</p><p>The results are very nice. They are brown, so they look very much like distressed leather from anything more than a close inspection. </p><p>Compliments the Olive green Barbour motorcycle jacket.</p><p>The weatherproof and rain proof qualities are pretty amazing, and it does breathe a little, like 19th century Goretex.</p><p>At freeway speeds in the rain, I got a little wet around some of the more complex seams. Not bad at all. </p><p>At 105+ they are still windproof, something even the GoreTex has problems with. Very important in 30 degree weather.</p><p>It has taken about 9 to 10 ounces to do the pants, the heavy canvas is very absorbant. The first 2 coats just sucked right in with no apparent change. </p><p>I am going to do it again when the weather changes and I don't need them for summer. </p>
This is mine. Very stiff so hope I didn't overdo the amount of wax.
<p>Great Work! <br>Even after a few years mine still can stand up on its own, if you need to soften it a little, toss it in the dryer. </p>
Just did this to a lined hoodie. <br> <br>I heated my material up in a pyrex measuring cup in the microwave. I would run it for a couple minutes. Let it sit a couple, Then heat it for a couple again, so that the heat would distribute evenly to melt the wax. <br> <br> It definitely took 2 coats, or about a pound of material. (For a medium-sized hoodie.).Brushed on. <br> <br>But I'm extremely happy with the results. The material is now chemical and fire resistant, and seems a lot more resistant to physical abuse. <br> <br>Thanks a ton!
Also... I noticed that the wax would sometimes run if you tried attacking a heavy layer of it at once. The trick of the day, for anyone else attempting this, is to heat larger areas gently, and then concentrate on the heavy spots when there wax around it is already soaked in... Most drips will stop right away and soak in, too.
<p>Hi,</p><p>&quot; The material is now chemical and fire resistant ... &quot;</p><p>Bear in mind that some candles are made of beeswax and paraffin and the wicks from cotton. Most solvents will dissolve these products.</p><p>I think this can make a nice torch.</p>
<p>&quot;Resistant&quot; is not the same as &quot;proof&quot;.</p><p>As far as burning goes, I have held an oxyacetylene torch to my new hoody with no ill effect. </p><p>I have been using this hoody since I posted my experiences. Almost every day. In an industrial research and development setting. </p>
I haven't tried working with a softer fabric, it looks great.
Wow! 1 lb. on a hoodie? I used about half a pound (1/4 of each type of wax) on the jacket. How stiff is it? <br> <br>Glad this 'ible could help. I'd love to see pictures.
Except for the hood, the jacket still won't stand up on it's own. But it's thoroughly impregnated. <br> <br>The cotton was very absorbent. I think I could still add another half a pound to the chest and back. <br> <br>I started with this hoodie, from Kmart. On sale for 16 dollars. <br> <br>https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-GkN96_UafFY/UsJfUriePsI/AAAAAAAACXM/6xcWyKThb5k/s846-no/spin_prod_843770712.jpg. <br> <br>Waxed. (This is the second coat.) <br> <br>https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-524tPobxxoo/UsJeN4uINFI/AAAAAAAACW0/hQLTFhAJazo/w635-h846-no/20131229_203918.jpg <br> <br>Torched. (Post second coat.) <br> <br>https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-etDBgkx79hc/UsJeWEb9qEI/AAAAAAAACW8/paYV5KA1wFI/w635-h846-no/20131229_224107.jpg <br> <br>Putting it on the next morning was like wearing cardboard. But it broke in nicely over the course of a fairly aerobic day. <br> <br>The final picture shows some of the crease lines developing. Some areas are becoming shiny. Others are becoming dull. It's fun and exciting to watch it, and to generate some of those creases purposely. <br> <br>https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-qEFvyinvpag/UsJekqda62I/AAAAAAAACXE/Tt2n4HhzMB0/w635-h846-no/CameraZOOM-20131230230352848.jpg <br> <br>Also, I soaked the cuffs and the tail of the hoodie in water to keep the wax from soaking into the elastic areas.
<p>How do you think this would fair with a skin tight knit material like a tight fitting sweater? Would it suffocate the skin too much? My full intention is to coat some Knitted kevlar arm guards that start at my hands and end just above my elbow.</p>
I've not tried on Kevlar, I would be worried adding wax would reduce Kevlar's fire resistance.
<p>what's it like when it comes to air permeability? is material still breathable? or it gets steamy when you wear it?</p>
<p>It can get a bit steamy. </p>
<p>ok thnx :)</p>
<p>Would soywax be or perhaps a combination of coconutoil(which is a solid at roomtemp) and carnaubawax be a suitable replacement the petroleumwax/paraffinwax? I'd like to keep away from petroleum products in things thatmight be in close contact with my skin.</p>
<p>It should be, Filson offers a commercial soy-wax recipe. Coconut oil may have too low of a melting temp though and my only experience with carnauba is as car wax. </p>
<p>Sorry, this is the correct link</p><p>http://www.flickr.com/photos/43639067@N07/sets/72157639951924044/</p>
<p>i finally got around to posting the pictures on Flickr. here is the final product after following your directions. Great 'ible! love the new color of my jacket and although it needs another coating of wax it's fairly water repellant.</p><p>Thanks for posting this!</p><p>link to pictures</p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/organize/?start_tab=new_set" rel="nofollow">http://www.flickr.com/photos/organize/?start_tab=n...</a></p>
I am thinking if a torch works then my heat gun for stripping paint should work better than a hair dryer. It gets VERY hot. It does have two settings, so I could use it on low. Was your jacket sweatshirt weight? Or heavier? (Will it get like the oiled hat that is brownish/black and has long coats to match? I think the underlying fabric is cotton.) Living in rainy Washington this is a great idea. Thanks for posting.
1. Your heat gun should work great, I probably should have used mine but couldn't find it (we just moved and I think it is with the laser cutter stuff) and the low setting will work fine.<br> 2. It is heavier than a sweatshirt, kind of like a denim jacket. <a href="http://www.fleetfarm.com/detail/dickies-men-s-hooded-duck-jacket-black/0000000085680" rel="nofollow">Here is a link</a> It is 10 oz Duck if that helps - they don't make it anymore.&nbsp;<br> 3. Yeah - it will be similar texture/feel to that, with the wear lines to those hats and dusters. Those are made of oilcloth (boiled linseed oil) or Waxed Cotton (exactly this).<br> <br> Hope that helps.
Oh Man! Wher was thai idebale when I spent years in a carhart jacket &amp; thought scotchguard was all that! <br>this is awesome! <br>thnaks, <br>Slim
No problem, I know Carhartt and Dickies have some great waterproof gear but that would mean spending more and I'm a cheap B*****d.
Parafin is highly flamable, that's why it is not used for waterproofing
I appreciate your concern but believe you may be mistaken - paraffin wax has been (and remains) a key ingredient in waterproofing treatments since the mid 19th century. See<a href="http://www.filson.com/products/filson-s-oil-finish-wax.69033.html" rel="nofollow"> Filson's Oil Finish Wax </a>&nbsp;for modern commercial use&nbsp;or the Wikipedia article on <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waxed_cotton" rel="nofollow">waxed cotton</a>&nbsp;for historic reference.&nbsp;
One thing that works better than the Heat gun/Torch/Hair dryer is to coat the jacket, wait for it to dry, then put it in a pillowcase, loosely tie the pillowcase shut and throw it in the clothes dryer a few times. The tumbling really gives it an even coat and works it deep into the fabric, that's how the professional companies do it.
Btw, very nice 'ible!
thanks ;-)
Thanks @Mysss suggested the same thing.
Does anyone know a way to make waxed cotton vegan/without the beeswax? (Is that even possible?) Hm..
If you do a vegan version please let me know how it turns out - I'd love to do a black denim Brando jacket with this finish to give it a more leather like texture and look.
...there are lots of vegetable waxes you might try... soya wax is one that is not so expensive and easily found(as in tee lights).
From what I've seen, at least based on texture, the Soya is a better replacement for the Parrafin - If you want to go all natural - than for the bees wax. YMMV
You can probably use a mix of paraffin and turpentine or boiled linseed oil. Not sure on the ratios. They will take much longer to dry, smell awful for at least a few days, and are more flammable while you work with them, but may be more durable.
You can get spray for $20... <br> <br>http://www.amazon.com/Aqua-Armor-Fabric-Waterproofing-Spray/sim/B002WLN6YW/2
There are many great commercial waterproofing sprays, including Neverwet and Nik Wax, that are great for some gear, I regularly treat the seams on my tent and my winter hiking boots - but those treatments lack the look and feel of something like this. Tincloth/Waxed Cotton/etc. have a leather-like texture that gets better with age. <br>This can be done for about the same price, or cheaper (I spent less than $20), and will last much longer with care and touch ups.
You can get spray for $20... <br> <br>|http://www.amazon.com/Aqua-Armor-Fabric-Waterproofing-Spray/sim/B002WLN6YW/2
Nice project. :]
Thank You. I saw a need, filled it, and shared how.
Cool stuff! How flexible is this, would it work on gloves?
I don't think it would work well on work gloves, especially no the palms, but it should condition any smooth leather. It MAY help on the back of the hand.

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Bio: I'm a maker, gluten free home brewer, laser cutter, web radio show host, and aspiring space cowboy who lives with his lovely wife, wonderful ... More »
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