How to Wax (waterproof) a Carhartt Coat





Introduction: How to Wax (waterproof) a Carhartt Coat

If you're like me, you love your Carhartt jacket. They're extremely durable and will hold up to nearly any abuse. The only negative is that they absorb water. Well, I was determined to overcome this and here is how I accomplished it.

Step 1: What You Will Need

1 Carhartt Jacket (or similar canvas style jacket)
2 cans of Filson's Oil Finish Wax
1 2" paint brush
1 Hair dryer
1 Heating element

Step 2: Melt Filson's Wax

The first thing you want to do is melt the wax. I happened to have this butter warmer in the kitchen that I used. I put a tea candle underneath it and waited for it to melt. Alternatively, you could scoop out the wax and microwave it or melt it in a double boiler. You can be creative here...

This picture was taken after I had already used half the wax. Notice how it is half liquid. The candle was not quite hot enough to melt it all at once. Something a little hotter would have been better.

Step 3: Paint the Wax On

Lay the jacket out on your counter or table. You might get wax on the surface, so be aware of that. If this concerns you, put a towel under the jacket to protect your table. Dip the tip of your paint brush in the wax and quickly paint it on the jacket. The quicker you can do this the better. The wax will solidify on the brush if you are not careful. Using quick brush strokes, move up and down the back of the jacket. Add extra wax to the seams to be sure they get waterproofed. Once the back is complete, move on to the sleeves and the front of the jacket. You'll probably get some spots with thicker wax than others. This is normal. Just try to get it all well coated.

Step 4: Melt the Wax in to the Fabric

Once you have your jacket fully waxed, it is time to melt the wax in to the cotton. Turn the hair dryer on high heat and hold it a few inches away from the jacket. You will see the thick wax spots melt in to the jacket. I took the paint brush in one hand and the hair drier in the other. Working together, I re-melted the wax on the jacket and brushed it in the fabric. This worked especially well for the seams.

Step 5: Enjoy Your New Waterproof Jacket!

Here are the before and after photos. The light spots in the second photo are just the flash bouncing off the wax. The jacket is still dark green. This is a great way to turn your standard Carhartt jacket into a Filson tin cloth like material! I can only imagine how great this jacket is going to look after a little use. You shouldn't have to redo the waterproofing for a few years. If high use areas start to wear, just reapply the wax to those areas.



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21 Discussions

a quick hint use semi solid wax and a putty knife it will be easier to control the amount applied. use a good heat gun to allow wax to penetrate material. if you are looking for a smoother finish use an iron (that you dont want anymore lol) and use high pressure to get the smooth surface. give it a try

Thanks for this great instructable!

I think I stumbled upon something even quicker / easier when following your method: (using beeswax in my case), use the blow drier when ORIGINALLY painting the wax on from the melted pot (drier in one hand, paintbrush in the other), so that when you apply the wax that would normally solidify immeiediately very unevenly, thanks to the blow drier you KEEP it in a heated/melted there and then, so you can really easily (and in only one step), control the thickness and application of the wax (just spread it out evenly while still in melted state!), after which you simply let it cool/dry!!!

This worked really awesomely with two different canvas materials I was trying: one drizabone hat that I cleaned the toxic muck off (with yes, equally toxic industrial degreaser) and re-applied with natural beeswax, and then a canvas backpack whose material was much lighter and not as tightly-woven, and it works great in both cases - especially good quality duck like drizabone material.

So yeah - if you want the fastest, try blow drier in one hand (closely pointed at where you're applying the wax/mixture to), and paint brush in the other, taking it from the melted pot and controlling it very easily, quickly there and then!

And then for quick drying I imagine putting it in a clothes drier at low heat (inside a pillow bag?) for a while to evenly bake it in / distribute it even more although, if cooling is what you want, maybe following this with refrigeration or brief freezing or something.

I wouldn't normally use so much electricity but it's good to know about if you ever need to do waxing in a jiffy and do have electricity/those appliances at your disposal!

I just did this, and it went great. awesome instructions, thank you so much! I did veer off the path a bit. After applying the wax, i put a large terry rag towel on the front and one on the back and folded it just once, put it in my dryer and 20 minutes later had a perfectly waxed coat. I left the rags in the dryer and ran it again, they absorbed any wax on the tub and window. Really easy and the result is great.

I would recommend this guys site for a great explanation and instructions for waxing canvas.  He uses just beeswax and paraffin wax, and it comes out looking great.  

1 reply

That's whst filsons abd snowseal are. Just parrafin and beeswax

I have a pair of white canvas boots and i'm going to waterproof them with sno-seal. i also want to have a friend do some art on them with acrylic paint pens. it's worked very well for her on other canvas shoes, even lasting through rain and puddle jumping etc. but i'm wondering if anyone knows if that will work once the waterproofing is done. or should they be painted first and then waterproofed?

Did this same thing to an old boonie hat as a test. It's gained an amazing waterproof quality- I can actually use the hat as a bucket now- and a great patina due to use. It's every bit as good as my Australian Drizabone jacket. I see this being done to a lot more of my outdoor gear!

This will also work on denim jackets and pants and also makes them more wind/cold resistant

tin cloth recipe:
To reproof oilcloth or to make a waxed canvas/cotton give this a try:

Reproofing Wax:

1/2 pound wax( 80% bees wax 20% paraffin)

1/2 quart raw linseed oil

1/2 quart turpentine


1/2 cup orange oil( for smell)

1/2 cup pine tar(? helps keep wax soft when cold? not sure.)

Heat the linseed oil and melt wax into oil. This should be done outdoors with care since both are flammable ingredients. A double boiler might be helpful. Once all wax is melted, remove from heat and add turpentine to mixture. Add optional ingredients now if desired. The proportions aren't exact. More wax gives better protection and a stiffer coat while more linseed oil offers less stiffness but less protection. Turpentine helps thin the mixture but requires more outdoor airing time(Your coat is going to smell heavily of turpentine.) Also, wax need not be food grade. you can save a lot of money by buying unprocessed bees wax.

How to Apply:

place reproofing container into boiling water until reproofing wax melts. brush on thinly in small sections of the coat. go over the whole coat with a blow dryer to melt the wax thoroughly into coat. Let air for a few days outdoors out of the rain until smell is acceptable and . A warm place away from direct sunlight is good.

soo when you said tacky feeling and it went away in a couple wears or what not... that concerns me but i really want to try this method i live in Washington so waterproofing my coat is really important have you tried your coat in the rain yet and did it work? i could care less about it being shiny i would prefer if it wasn't shiny actually. and did it change the color? would this method be more effective then buying a can of water proofing spray?

 I am in the process of doing this to a Carhartt Detroit Jacket (#J01)  My only comment is that it takes an enormous amount of the wax.  I used four 3.75oz tins of wax, and just barely got one coat on.  After just one coat of wax, the coat didn't have the same look as a new Filson coat I was comparing it to.  The Filson was uniformly shiny, likely due to complete saturation of the fabric with the wax.  With only one coat, the Carhartt is dull in most places, and only shiny in places I added a second coat of wax.  I have ordered additional wax, and will report back when I have added a second coat.  

For this to be economical it would probably be wise to make your own wax, as detailed here:

2 replies

Not sure why it required so much wax. I used one tin and coated my entire "large" coat and it is completely waterproof. The purpose of the blow dryer and heating the wax is to make it more malleable and easier to apply. Plus, it helps it to melt into the threads of the coat. No matter what you do, it will not have the same look as a Filson. As much as I wish this were possible, the threading is different and they have a unique process to wax their coats. That being said, if you want to waterproof your Carhartt, this is a perfect way to do it without costing much money. Plus, the wax coats the thread fibers without cracking. My coat is still just as waterproof today as it was the day I applied it!

i too used more than recommended (3 full tins) on my carhartt, and did not approach what i would call an even coat, nor any where near what a filson looks like (although granted, im sure filson impregnates their cloth at a very early stage in manufacturing).

this is not to say its was unsuccessful - water does pill off most areas - but i was at least hoping for an even smooth-toned coating; right now my jacket looks like it lost a battle with a deep fryer - is the solution to add more wax to the other sections?

Thanks for sharing!
This is exactly what I want to do my Chore Coat. I got only one concern: will the wax soak through the material into the lining? I was planning to use Barbour Thornproof Dressing but their website says that it will soak through and stain your clothes. Have you noticed any signs of this with Filson wax?

3 replies

The wax did not soak through the lining of my Carhartt.  This was an initial concern, but after seeing how fast the wax dries and how thick it was...that concern immediately went away.  Blow drying the wax really helps it to soak into the fabric, but not enough to go through the liner.  I can tell you that this method worked very well for me!  I wore the coat while clearing 50+ inches of snow this winter and every bit of liquid that hit it rolled off.  Before, when I would snow-blow the driveway, I would come in and the jacket would be soaking wet from melted snow. 

As I mentioned in another comment below, the wax does initially leave the jacket feeling "tacky"...but that went away after a number of uses.  I guess that is one of the downfalls of wax in general though.

Thanks! That's great news. I am going to test it first on a swatch of fabric I got from Carhartt (great custemer service btw) and then my brown Chore Coat is going to get a new look:-) Thank you again for the instructions.

Please let me know how it goes, I am curious as to what other people think about this method.  If you have any questions, please feel free to email me and I can help you out.
Good luck!

Seems like it should work.  Have you tried it in the rain?  Does the wax have an odor?  Would other waxes work? 

1 reply

I have not tried it in the rain, but I did have it on while shoveling and blowing snow all last week. It made a world of difference! The snow just brushed off and none sank in to the coat. It was a huge improvement over the last time I shoveled snow.

The wax has a slight smell, almost like lemons. And the jacket was a little tacky to the touch when I first did it. After wearing it for a week, the tackiness and smell are all but gone.

I have no idea if other waxes would work. Filson wax is made especially for jackets/coats, so that is why it was chosen. I would think you would have to use some sort of fabric wax, as others could be too stiff.

My fiance suggested melting a pine candle to add a manly smell! :)