Bowstring wax is not something you think about often. Most of us are guilty of not minding our bowstrings as much as we should.
With that being said, if we had a few alternative options of what we could put on our bowstrings, maybe even a household item lying around, we might take better care of our strings.
The best alternative for bowstring wax is beeswax, with chapstick and mustache wax being alternatives in emergencies.
Beeswax is one of the most common alternatives for bowstring wax. The main reason for this is that one of the main ingredients in bowstring wax is beeswax.
Beeswax is a natural substance that can enhance the longevity of your bowstring.
The biggest issue with using beeswax for your bowstring is application. As I mentioned above, beeswax is one of the main components in bowstring waxes; however, they mix in other ingredients with beeswax to aid in application.
Beeswax works great in both hot climates and warm climates. In hot climates, beeswax will perform admirably due to its high melting point of 65c.
In wet climates, beeswax is superior again due to its hydrophobic properties. Beeswax has even been used for the hydrophobic treatment of wood and to reduce fungal decay.
Many hunters like to use beeswax on their bowstrings due to the natural scent, although this varies from bee to bee, and according to the area, the scent is both mild and natural.
This is preferable to some other alternatives that may be more fragrant or emit a less natural scent that deer may catch wind of.
Make sure that you are using filtered beeswax to ensure better performance and reduce the risk of introducing residue to your strings.
How to apply beeswax to bowstring:
Given the high melting point of beeswax, it can be a little more challenging to apply, but not difficult.
Rub the beeswax between your fingers until it starts to soften.
Apply the beeswax to the outside of the bowstring spreading it evenly.
If the bow is in a hot room or climate, you can start to gently work the wax into the string.
Alternatively, you can use a hairdryer on a low heat setting to gently melt the wax and work it into the bowstring.
Chapstick is a fan favorite alternative to bowstring wax and can be used in a pinch.
One of the great things about using chapstick to wax your stings is it can be found almost anywhere.
If you’re on a two-week hunting trip and realize you forgot your string wax, chances are you can pick up a stick of chapstick at the nearest store if you don’t already happen to have one.
Most hunters carry chapstick due to the harsh conditions we face, so the chances are you already have some with you.
If putting chapstick on your bowstring, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.
First, try and get a scent-free chapstick. You don’t want to be calling in that bull elk to 20 yards for him to scent your cherry blossom bowstrings.
Next, I would try and use a non-petroleum-based chapstick. Petroleum-based chapsticks can break down the fibers of your string. I would use something like Burtz Bees which is a beeswax-based chapstick.
Applying chapstick to your bowstring is quite easy and much the same as applying standard bowstring wax.
However, be careful not to apply too much chapstick as it can get sticky and attract dirt.
Remember to clean your strings when you get home and apply proper string wax or beeswax.
Mustache Wax and Beard Balm
Mustache wax or beard balms can also be used in a pinch. Similarly to using chapstick on your bowstring, you need to choose these products carefully also.
Many beard balms and mustache waxes contain paraffin which can deteriorate your bowstring.
However, with a little searching, you can find balms and waxes that contain better ingredients for your string, such as beeswax.
Many balms and mustache waxes are scented, I would avoid using these if you plan on taking your bowhunting. Try to find a scent-free product.
Again, these products are not on par with dedicated bowstring wax and should only be used in emergencies.
To apply, work the products through your fingers and rub it into the bowstring.
Beard balms and mustache waxes come in different consistencies. You may find that some of the waxes, in particular, are pretty hard to break down.
On the opposite side, some of these break down quite easily and can get quite greasy, so be careful not to apply too much.
What to Look for in a Bowstring Wax Alternative
Bowstring materials are commonly made of fine dacron fibers that are tightly packed together and twisted.
Although dacron is a very durable material, it can dry out and fray quickly if not maintained. The same is true for most other bowstring materials.
Adding bowstring wax or a suitable alternative protects the bowstring in many ways.
Prevents From Fraying
Bowstrings fray from rubbing and continues use. The fibers in a bowstring are extremely thin, and any rubbing or strain on these fibers can cause them to break.
The end result is what we know as fraying, which looks like little fuzzy bits on your bowstring.
The wax on a bowstring provides a lubricant against rubbing and general wear and tear to prevent this fraying.
Creates a Waterproof Barrier
Hunters use their bows in all weather conditions, which includes a lot of wet weather.
Most bowstring materials do not absorb water. However, as I mentioned above, bowstrings are made up of many different fibers in a bundle.
If the string gets wet, without proper protection, water can make its way into the center of the bundle.
This can cause premature deterioration.
The best bowstring waxes or wax alternatives will have a wicking property to aid the bowstrings in removing any excess moisture.
Protects Against Dirt
As well as hunters having to deal with damp and wet conditions, we also have to deal with a lot of dirt and debris.
This dirt can cause excess friction on your bowstring and can easily accumulate, which in turn will affect your bow performance and string life.
The wax alternative you apply to your bowstring should be able to prevent dirt from entering the bundle as well as be easily cleaned to remove dirt.
Keeps the Bundle Together
In order for your bowstring to perform its best, the bundle needs to stay tightly together.
This helps to reduce sound and vibrations. It also helps to prevent any dirt or dust from getting into the center of the bundle, which can damage the strings, as we mentioned above.
When choosing a bowstring wax, it’s crucial that it’s able to provide all of these properties adequately to ensure the longevity of your bowstring.
Other than natural beeswax, which offers superior properties for your bowstring, everything should really be only used in emergencies.
By overusing some products on your bowstring, you may do more harm than good. Some products have too many petroleum-based ingredients that may break down your string and shorten its life.
Other products may be scented, and you most likely won’t get to fire your bow on the hunt.
The best product on this list is beeswax which is arguably just as good if not better than commercial bowstring wax.
Either way, try to carry a spare string wax with you, and hopefully, you won’t need any of the other products on this list.