How to Wax a Jacket





Introduction: How to Wax a Jacket

I like being outdoors, i don't like getting wet. i require a jacket that is warm, hard wearing and waterproof. O' yeah, and cheap. I found a three quarter length jacket in an army surplus store for next to nothing ($10). It is cotton and acts more like a sponge than a waterproof. But three out of four is a good start.

Then I heard about waxing clothing. A bit of effort and it's four out of four. Sweeet.

So began my eventful day of waxing a jacket.

Step 1: Equipment Required

1) Item of clothing to be waxed.

I've used a cotton jacket bought from an army surplus store.

2) Wax

I found these tea lights, they're bigger than the usual type.

3) A firm surface.

I used an ironing board, with a folded towel between the ironing board and jacket.

4) A heat source

Options are:

a) An iron (not advisable)

b) A hairdryer

5) Plenty of time.

In all it took me most of the day, though it was only about four hours of actual work.

Step 2: Prepping the Candles

This step is easy,

Remove the candle from its aluminium container, then remove the wick. Leaving a block of wax.

Step 3: Lay Out Item of Clothing

Find a flat, firm surface and lay out your item of clothing.

I used an ironing board.

Step 4: Wax

Rub the wax block over the clothing

At this point, I noticed that the metal pattern from the ironing board was coming through to form a pattern on the sleeve of the jacket. A simple fix, I just added a folded towel between the ironing board and jacket, problem solved.

When applying the wax, compartmentalise the clothing. I began with the sleeves, front half and rear half.

Cover the area fully with wax, the more the better.

Step 5: Apply Heat

The wax now needs to be melted into the fabric of the clothing.

I knew a hairdryer worked well, but also heard that an iron would also work.

I opted for trying the iron first.

It is a hellish method. It requires the iron to be held on full heat just above the waxed fabric (about 5mm) for ages before the wax begins to melt. Because the jacket was wrinkled, the iron heated the ridges of the jacket but not the troughs. After 10 minutes of muscle aching, precision holding and constantly watching the wax, I managed a whole load of not very much.

Step 6: Do Not Apply Direct Heat

Becoming bored and slightly frustrated by the lack of progress, I decided to try simply ironing the wax into the fabric.

That turned out to be an incredibly stupid idea.

After applying the iron directly to the wax, the iron began to smoke profusely. So I went to get a cloth to wipe off the residual wax from the iron. Whilst gone the smoke set off the smoke alarm. Setting off a chain of events that caused the first delay in the waxing of the jacket.

I return with the cloth, the iron was still smoking. The smoke alarm still shrieking to the world, which set off the dog. Who began running around, jumping up and barking.

Easy to sort, disconnect iron, wipe residual wax off and stop iron from smoking. Take a chair, stand on chair and disconnect smoke alarm, end shrieking. Take dog and go outside to calm her down.

As l get outside, my elderly neighbour is walking towards me, "it's ok, it's ok" she hollers. I'm about to reply that yes, everything's fine just a miss hap, when she finishes "I've called the fire department, they'll be here soon".

In the distance I hear the faint wail of sirens. I begin to explain that there was really no need, and told her what had happened. "You can never be too careful, what if there had been a real fire?"

Sound reasoning, she's really old and I'm not the sort to become emotional at such things.

I don't have to explain things to my neighbour for to long as my attention is moved towards not one, but two fire trucks pulling up outside my house. Fully clothed firemen jump out, begin unrolling hoses and finding fire hydrants to attach them to. As one begins to walk over towards me. I'm stood there in my yard, looking at all the commotion, with everyone in the street coming out to see what's going on, the dog is running around barking in a fit of excitement at all the people and flashing lights, and I wonder 'how the hell did all this just happen?'

When I explain what I was doing to cause the smoke alarm to go off, I get a 'O' you're one of those' looks from the fireman. Who goes on to reassure my neighbour that she did the correct thing, and that they'd happily come out to a false alarm than arrive late to a house fire.

They pack up their equipment, people go back into their homes and I return to the jacket.

So if your tempted to wax a jacket using an iron, don't. Just don't.

Step 7: Apply Heat Using Hairdryer

What took 10 minutes using the iron, took seconds to achieve using the hairdryer, the upper half of the sleeve took 30 seconds to complete.

Repeat process to achieve a double coating of wax.

Do the same on the other half of the sleeve, applying two coats of wax and paying particular attention to the areas of overlap.

Repeat the same set of steps on the other sleeve.

Once I completed both sleeves, I had used most of one block of wax. (I've placed a whole block next to the used block for comparison)

Step 8: Apply Wax to the Rest of the Jacket

I applied the first coat of wax to the rest of the jacket, the pictures show the difference in colour once the wax has been applied.

By this stage I've applied two coats of wax to the sleeves, one coat of wax to the main body of the jacket and have used two blocks of wax. (I've placed a whole block next to the used blocks for comparison)

Step 9: If You Use Someone's Hairdryer, Ask for Permission to Use It

I was about to heat the first application of wax which covered the main body of the jacket, when the owner of the hairdryer required it's air heating capabilities. The owner was much dismayed by its lack of presence in its usual place of storage. Especially as it was an integral aspect in the process and preparation for an event later that evening. Needles to say my requirements fell a distant second to the priorities of the owner. There began the second delay in the waxing of the jacket.

Blah blah, something or other and idle hands, I went for a snack and continuing the theme of using wax, I made a candle. Instructable to follow.

Step 10: Resume With Applying Heat to Wax

Once I was graciously allowed to resume my usage of the hairdryer, I was able to melt the wax into the jacket quite quickly.

That left the application of the second coat of wax and heating it so that it melted into the fabric.

In comparison to the events of the day, it was simple and relatively unhindered.

That only left the hood, which took just over 15 minutes to complete both coats of wax.

By the time I had completed all the waxing and heating, I had used three blocks of wax. (I've placed a whole block next to the used blocks for comparison)

Step 11: Areas to Pay Particular Attention to

When applying the wax, pay particular attention to seams, seam junctions and buttons.

Step 12: The Finished Article

The jacket, including hood is completed.

Step 13: Testing and Results

So did it work? Was all the effort, delays, and time worth it? I'll let the pictures do the talking.

Step 14: Conclusion

It's been a long day, I'm now going to find an instructable for opening a beer bottle without a bottle opener. Apparently leaving the best ever toy for an excited dog laying around will result in it being broken. Which is less distracting than the note that was left for me. Which read, I've gone out, I might not be meeting with a fireman I met earlier today (how did that happen??) but then again I might. I'll be back after midnight, I would have asked for permission, but apparently it's no longer required.

But on the up side, I've got a waxed jacket and it's four out of four for my requirements of a jacket, now about that instructable for my beer.....



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I enjoyed reading this and will give it a try soon.

Thanks for the laugh and info, i have a duster gonna give it a go.

Candle wax impregnated cotton is one of the most valued, fail proof fire starters and in ideal conditions can be set off by a few sparks. I'd just rather see you wet, than roasted!

5 replies

Hypothermia kills more people in the outdoors than fire does by a pretty wide margin.

Maybe because people don't walk around in highly flammable clothes.

Hypothermia kills more people in the outdoors than fire does by a pretty wide margin.

Your not the first to mention that. I'll make sure I only use it on cold and or wet days. And will defiantly keep it well away from fires.

I loved your pocket grill instructable by the way. I hope to have one made so that it can make an appearance in my Bug Out Bag MK2, when I get round to making it.

Thanks, just make sure you don't use them at the same time; I mean the grill and the jacket ;)

I see a lot of people posting fire hazard comments on here. I have a 20 year old BDU army coat that was given to me at Ft Jackson SC. I waxed mine about five years ago and have used it while welding! The sparks hit the surface, melt in slightly and fizzle out. The jacket material makes all the difference. Jean material is the same way.

1 reply

If this was so dangerous why have so many companies sold Tin Cloth clothing for over a hundred years?

I like the tone of your instructable, and I agree that a well waxed piece of clothing is hard to beat in scenarios of high activity and damp weather.

Beeing a veteran garment-waxer I do have a few suggestions:

1. Go with a dedicated garment-wax. Paraffin wax, the substance you get from cheap tealights, is highly flammable(!) at temperatures that are not inconceivable in a direct sunlight / dark fabric situation. It also has an unfortunate melting point, close to the surface temperature of active humans. I.e. it'll drain from your jacket faster than a dedicated garment wax. Also, dedicated garment wax isn't that expensive - go with Barbour or British millerain wax (both at about a dollar for each coat of wax on a xxl-sized jacket).

2. Don't use wax on unlined clothes unless you are wearing a washable and rather thick sweater underneath - even a high quality garment wax will bleed into anything you are wearing beneath an unlined jacket.

3. If you have access to a garment-drying cabinet, that is ideal for wax application. Otherwise hairdryer / heat-gun for application and a short spin in tumble-dryer (inside heatproof non-wax-permeable bag) is close to ideal!

2 replies

Wow! I want to see your method in an instruct-able done by a veteran garment-waxer. That is really excellent advice, thanks for sharing!

That is some fantastic advice, thank you very much. I'll look into getting some dedicated garment wax. In the mean time I'll use the jacket and when I get round to rewaxing it, I'll probably do another instructable and incorporate the pros and cons of my first attempt.

Hilarious, this instructable made my day! Thank you on sharing the alarm, dog, old neighbor, fireman episode. That was fantastic. As for melting the wax, Harbor Frieght practically gives away heat guns. I bet 800 F (low) would make quick work of melting the wax on anything.

Hilarious, this instructable made my day! Thank you on sharing the alarm, dog, old neighbor, fireman episode. That was fantastic. As for melting the wax, Harbor Frieght practically gives away heat guns. I bet 800 F (low) would make quick work of melting the wax on anything.

I put my jacket in a hot sauna after waxing. I do have a small hairdryer for finishing touch and a Teflon coated travel iron for pants. I make my own garment wax too. Just bought 3kg paraffin wax from an army surplus store. It was used to waxing skies :)

1 reply

I have a room that gets very hot, I'll put it in there over night, hopefully the wax won't drain out and drip all over the floor,

how about using parchment paper between the fabrid and the iron.

1 reply

Unfortunately my frustration got the better of me before I could consider other options.

However, should I wax any other clothing in the future, I'll be using a hairdryer. I recommend everyone else doing the same.