How to Make Oilskin Wax

by James McElroy

Sailors, explorers and working men prized oilskin fabric for centuries for its waterproofing qualities. Lewis and Clark actually relied on oilskin bags during their historic trek across North America. Though modern waterproofed fabric is lighter than an oil and wax-soaked garment, some folks still prefer oilskin for its undisputed durability. If you have an oilskin that is no longer waterproof or have an item that you would like to turn into an oilskin, you can do just that with a few common ingredients.

Items you will need

  • Portable electric burner
  • Large pot
  • Metal mixing bowl that fits securely on top of sauce pot
  • 1 qt. linseed oil
  • 2 lbs. beeswax shavings
  • Stirring stick
Step 1

Place the burner on a level, fireproof surface outside.

Step 2

Fill the pot with water and bring it to a boil, then place the mixing bowl on top of the pot. The mixing bowl should create a double boiler. Ensure it sits securely enough so it will not spill, yet its bottom is not touching the bottom of the pot.

Step 3

Add 1 qt. linseed oil followed by 2 lb. beeswax shavings to the mixing bowl.

Step 4

Stir the oilskin wax occasionally until all of the beeswax has melted into the linseed oil.

Tips

  • Add essential oils to the oilskin wax to make it smell better. Add more beeswax to make the oilskin wax more water-resistant; add more linseed oil to make it more flexible when applied to the fabric.

Warnings

  • Immediately wash anything used to apply or wipe up linseed oil as the solvents in the oil may cause it to self-combust.

About the Author

James McElroy began his journalism career in 2001 and his stories have appeared in newspapers around the world, including "The Columbus Dispatch" and "The Star-Ledger." He studied journalism at the E.W. Scripps Graduate School of Journalism at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.