Otter Wax

by Adrianna

Here at Bolt we are all about supporting the local community and providing you with products that are not only charming to look at, but also functional, natural, and appropriate to our wonderfully soggy environment. One product in particular that characterizes all above statements is the frequently inquired upon, Otter Wax! This lovely product is hand crafted right here in Portland, OR and made from all natural ingredients (don’t worry; no actual otters were harmed in the making of this product) to waterproof your projects.

So what is this stuff anyway? – is the number one question on our customer lists for the past couple months :) so, I shall explain!

Otter Wax is an all-natural heavy duty fabric wax made from the highest quality beeswax and blend of plant-based waxes and oils (as it says on their packaging) to use on heavy weight fabrics such as canvas, twill, denim, duck cloth, etc. to make the fabric waterproof! It comes in two forms, as a wax bar and fabric dressing. Both forms produce the same outcome, but they are applied in different ways. When using the bar (which I will demonstrate how to use in this post) you simply rub onto your fabric, then let cure for at least 24 hours. The bar is enough wax to cover a medium sized tote bag, or 4 baseball caps, or a child’s denim coat – you get the picture. The fabric dressing comes in a can, which requires you to heat up and melt to the right viscosity before applying to your fabric with either a brush or cloth. The dressing goes a lot further than the bar, in that it is plenty to cover an extra-large men’s rain coat (great for the Albion by Colette) and then a bit left over.

For my first Otter Wax endeavor, I made a small tote bag from canvas scraps I had collected from a couple past projects. I had sewn the bag before applying the wax, but after completing the project, it is safe to say you can also wax your fabric first before sewing. A great characteristic of this wax versus others that I have used in the past is that it doesn’t clump up! Hallelujah! To some that may be a detail you like, and to each their own, but I however do not. Otter Wax, once fully cured, absorbs into the fabric and becomes like a second skin, rather than an outer coating - much like the great animal itself, it is no doubt how the product’s name came into being.  

To apply the wax in the bar form; simply rub the bar onto the fabric. You’ll want to use a bit of elbow grease to really get the wax on the fabric, which can be a bit tedious with a finished project. When you initially rub on the wax, it will clump up and look uneven. To even out the wax, just use your finger or a cloth to smooth out the wax. This is also good to do around seams, or pocket edges to make sure the wax gets on your whole project. As you can see in the picture, I smoothed out the wax on the right hand side of the flap, but not on the left side.

Once you have generously coated your project with wax, let it sit for at least 24 hours. If you are anxious for the project to be finished (like I was) you can use a hair dryer to speed up the process. I would suggest only using the hair dryer towards the end of the curing process, so that the wax can cure as naturally as possible.

I must say, this product is quite phenomenal. Compared to other waxes I have used in the past, Otter Wax is definitely superior. There is not much of a difference to your fabric after the wax is applied and cured. Depending on how evenly the wax is applied there may be some discoloring, but in my opinion the slight discoloring looks awesome!

So we highly suggest you give this stuff a try! You can pick some up from our online store here. I know I’m hooked. As a lover of heavy duty fabrics, it is no question I have fallen in love with this product as well. We also have some water repellent canvas that would be great to use the Otter Wax on. For a climate as lush as ours in the great North West, this product definitely comes in handy. Wax garments you already own, or canvas shoes, or anything for that matter! Well, maybe not your undergarments.

See you soon!