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We have gritty, seafaring men to thank for developing the tradition of waxing canvas. Centuries ago, sailors noticed their sails caught better wind when wet - but wet sails are heavy sails. So, they figured out they could cure the fabric, which allowed it to receive water on the surface, but not soak in.
Fast forward several hundred years, and we’re still waxing canvas. Here’s how:
The wax will cover whatever is on the bag, so be sure the canvas is clean and dry. Use a lint roller to remove any strings or dust that may be clinging to your bag. Then, heat up the surface of the canvas with a blow dryer - this will help the wax spread more smoothly.
Rub the wax on the canvas like a bar of soap. Use broad, even strokes. The pressure and friction will warm up the wax, making it easier to spread and transfer to the fabric. Use the corners and edges of the bar to get into crevices or up close to rivets and leather. Use your fingers to work the wax into the canvas. Then, use the blow dryer to slowly and evenly reheat the canvas. Using your hands, work the wax into the canvas again, helping it to penetrate the fabric.
After completing the waxing process, hang up your bag in a warm, dry area. Allow the canvas to dry and cure for 24-48 hours.
Waxing canvas isn’t complicated. And beyond the practical benefits of repelling water and dirt, waxing a canvas bag can also give it a gritty, weathered look - a quiet nod to those seafaring men.