Wax on, wax off?

The issue of whether or not nylon whips should be waxed has been a mild debate over the years. Some believe they should be waxed, others feel that waxing doesn’t make a real significant difference. I’m of the latter group, in that though I do see some small benefits of waxing a nylon whip, I don’t feel it’s as needful as some others do. Please understand, I’m in no way attacking or criticizing those who believe in waxing nylon whips, simply offering my personal opinions on the subject. Very often I’m asked through email what my view on the matter is, so I figured I’d share my thoughts regarding this. Here’s a list of proposed benefits and my thoughts and/or arguments with them.

1.  An added coat of protection from moisture and the elements. This I tend to agree with, but is it really needed? I don’t think so. Paracord is moisture resistant, which means it can and will absorb water, so maybe a coat of wax would help minimize this? Sure maybe, but when it flakes or wears off, it needs to be rewaxed. It probably helps make wiping dirt off the whip easier after use. But the more often you wipe the whip down, the quicker the wax will wear off. Besides, the only part of a whip that would truly benefit from the wax is the portion that comes into contact with the ground. But as it comes into contact with the ground, again, the wax wears off.
2. Wax helps add weight and density to the whip. If so, that means when it flakes off, the whip loses some weight, correct? If a whip needs wax to add weight to it, then the whip wasn’t weighted properly to begin with, in my opinion. The whip should be weighted and crack properly the way it’s built without any wax added.
3. Wax helps with the aerodynamics of a whip, as it’s cutting through the air, similar to wax on race cars or aircraft, etc. To me, this doesn’t make much sense. The tip of a whip can move up to 900 miles an hour, over 1400 ft per second, as many know, faster than the speed of sound, resulting in the cracking noise; all that without having wax on a whip. Will wax make it move any faster? Even if it did, how much faster does it need to go, it’s already breaking the sound barrier?
4. It makes a whip look & feel more like a leather whip. Maybe from a distance, sure. But up close, it still looks like nylon. From a distance, nylon can look like leather without wax on it. A couple years back I bought a nylon whip from another nylon whipmaker in the US. It was dipped in wax, and very sloppy looking. In my hand, the whip felt like I was holding a candle, the same thought I had years ago when I experimented dipping whips I had built in wax. So I don’t agree with this statement either. If done properly, wax can give a nice sheen to a whip’s appearance, as shellack does to a leather whip. 
5. Makes the whip more durable. If you dip a nylon whip into wax that is too hot and for too long, it can weaken the fibers in the nylon cord. The heat should only be hot enough to melt the wax, and when dipping the whip, in and out quickly. Once it’s hardened onto the whip, some people use a hairdryer to melt it again so that it seeps into the whip itself, and to make the appearance more even over the whip. A well-made nylon whip is already pretty durable, the reason being the material with which it’s being made. Some have warned about leaving a waxed whip in a vehicle on a hot day. It can possibly melt the wax and make a mess of the vehicle. This I don’t know for sure, but thought I’d throw that out.

6. Helps a whip perform better with use. This one I don’t understand at all. How does wax help a nylon whip perform better with use? Using a whip, whether it’s nylon, leather, rubber or whatever it’s made from, if it’s a well-made whip, helps it perform better over time…just using it makes it perform better. I read online where a nylon whipmaker said they’d never handled a nylon whip that wasn’t waxed. You couldn’t just take the whip out and crack it for 10-15 minutes before you waxed it?  That way the differences could be seen & felt.

One main reason why people buy nylon whips, apart from the lower price tag, is the non-maintenance of a nylon whip. With a roohide whip, or any leather whip, once it becomes wet, it should be hung somewhere and left to dry. At some point during the drying process, leather dressing should be applied to help keep the fibers tight and preventing the leather from cracking. With a nylon whip, if it gets wet, wash it off with soap & water, let it dry & let it fly! It’s good to go. No need for conditioner or wax. When the wax on a nylon whip flakes or wears off, then it must be re-waxed, possibly weakening the nylon fibers even more. How much does it weaken the nylon? There’s no way apart from a scientific study to know this. Maybe a show Discovery could do?  But now the whip is no longer non-maintenance. If a nylon whip’s lifespan isn’t as long as a roo whip, that’s fine. The price is much lower, and a few nylons can be purchased at the cost of nice kangaroo hide whip.

Well, those are some views & arguments concerning waxing or not waxing a nylon whip, and probably not all that’s ever been or being said about this. Again, I’m not bashing, attacking, criticizing or poking fun at those who believe in the benefits of waxing nylon whips. To each his own. I’m asked over & again what my views are concerning this, so now everyone can know. Thanks for reading.

~Till next time, Steve.

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