As one of the oldest materials in the world, waxed canvas is still quite a popular choice for making bags and accessories. Several centuries ago, mariners observed that sails perform better when moist. But, wet sails are heavier. Therefore, they found ways to cure the fabric, which allowed it to retain water on its surface but without soaking in.
Earlier, sailors used to cure sails by rubbing linseed oil onto the canvas surface. This water-repelling fabric gradually gained popularity and later used to make waterproof clothing for sailors. Fast forward to these days, and waxed canvas is used to manufacture waxed canvas bags, waxed canvas large tote, canvas clutch purse, and many other items for personal and industrial use.
Professionally developed waxed canvas products are of high quality that enhances the timelessness and durability of the fabric. Commercial manufacturers don’t make waxed canvas by rubbing wax or oil onto the canvas surface, but they produce waxed canvas with wax or oil embedded into canvas fibres.
Before digging deep into its waxed version, let’s first understand what canvas is. Normal Canvas is made from cotton or linen. Unlike other heavy-duty fabrics like denim, which utilises a twill weave, canvas has a plain weave. Broadly, the canvas is of two types: duck and plain. The duck canvas has more densely woven threads, which makes it stronger and more durable.
Waxed canvas is basically a densely woven fabric, saturated with wax that provides it with an additional layer of protection. It is largely known for its durability, water resistance properties, and rugged character. With continued use over time, this fabric develops creases and folds that give it a weathered patina.
In general, waxed canvas is manufactured using paraffin-based wax, but hybrid waxes are also used that contain a combination of paraffin and fluorocarbon to boost the water-resistant properties of waxed canvas. Creating a waxed canvas is also possible with natural waxes like beeswax, but the process is more expensive.
The feel of waxed canvas is drier than waxed cotton. It has a supple, pleasantly textured surface. Waxed canvas is also non-sticky to touch.
Present-day waxed canvas is difficult to ignite and is way less flammable than any synthetic materials available today. The fabric burns only if a considerable amount of heat is applied to it. However, by and large, it is not at all a hazardously combustible material.
Waxed canvas is vegan and far more eco-friendly than many other vegan substitutes for leather that are made using by-products of the petrochemical industry. The process to produce paraffin wax, which is used to develop waxed canvas fabric, releases very low levels of toxins.
Waxed canvas is quite a durable, hard-wearing and strong material, which is amply resistant to wear and tear. If maintained properly, waxed canvas products last for decades or even a lifetime.
Broadly speaking, waxed canvas is a waterproof material that repels driving rain. However, it is not completely impermeable to water. This means, if it is immersed in water for a long period, it is likely to get saturated.
While waxed cotton may rub off on clothes, waxed canvas doesn’t rub off on clothes. With time, the wax-embedded canvas surface may dry out, which may require re-waxing.
Owing to its water-repelling properties, waxed canvas doesn’t stain quite easily. In fact, scuffs and marks the waxed canvas surface develops with day-to-day use simply add to its rugged feel and character. However, to remove a stubborn oil mark or stain, apply corn starch to the stained area and leave it for at least 2 days (48 hours). Then, use a stiff brush to remove the stain. The process can be repeated if needed. You can also use mild soap and cold water to remove such stains. Rewaxing for waxed canvas will be required once the stain removal process is over.
Since waxed canvas is an organic, natural material, it will mould, depending on its usage. However, it will never stretch out of its original shape.
You should never wash items like a waxed canvas large tote, apron, canvas clutch purse, etc. If re-waxed timely and appropriately, it is less likely to get dirty. Moreover, the marks and scuffs it takes on with everyday use enhances its look and feel. In extreme situations, if washing is required, simply use a mild soap and cold water. Also, make sure to rewax the entire waxed canvas product afterwards.
You should never iron a waxed canvas product. Doing so will burn off the embedded wax and the entire item will then require re-waxing. Waxed canvas is dyed before waxing. This means, once it’s waxed, it can’t be dyed.
Waxed canvas is roughly 3 to 4 times more expensive than normal canvas. The difference in the price reflects the cost of wax and the time-consuming, labour-intensive process of saturating the fabric with wax.
The alluring way in which waxed canvas ages is one of the major reasons why it’s used so immensely to create fashion accessories. Similar to full-grain leather, the appearance of waxed canvas enhances as it ages, which makes it a pretty great material to create unique accessories. Furthermore, marks, scuffs and creases help develop a distinct patina that continues to become more conspicuous and add to the fabric’s character with time.
The water-resistant characteristic of waxed canvas doesn’t allow dust to settle. Dirt or mud never penetrates the fabric and can be easily removed with a moist cloth. To clean serious oil stains, you can follow the process explained above. Always remember that waxed canvas product should never be placed inside a washing machine and they should be dried naturally.
There is no need to soften waxed canvas items as it gains flexibility with continued use.
Waxed canvas pairs extremely well with leather. Both have similar longevity and develop an attractively unique patina as they age. For these reasons, they are frequently paired in the fashion accessory manufacturing industry.
Waxed canvas is now used in a variety of outdoor clothing, which showcases a blend of style and rugged look and functionality. Owing to its strength, durability, and waterproof features, it’s a popular choice to create a broad range of bags like messenger bags, waxed canvas large tote bags, duffle bags, canvas clutch purses and even briefcases. For industrial purposes, waxed canvas is used to make products like hats, aprons and tool rolls.