For a few years now, my go-to workhorse backpack is the Fjällraven Kanken. Its minimalistic design, perfect size and the fact that it’s foldable and lightweight makes it the perfect everyday backpack for me. The daily use, dust, and a recent bird shit made it very clear though, that if I want to enjoy this backpack for many more years, it urgently needs some care. So against the warnings not to do it, I threw it in the washing machine at low temperature for a first cleaning. And it turned out fine! Over the years and now in the machine the fabric lost most its waterproof finish and I bought a box of Fjällraven Greenland Wax to touch it up. However, when I saw the minuscule package of wax that I had bought for 6€, I was a bit shocked.
I quickly googled how to make your own „Greenland-Style“ waterproofing wax for fabric and it turns out to be super easy and simple! I should have trusted my DIY instincts right from the start… So I send the tiny Fjällraven wax back and made my own. Here is how:
9 parts paraffin wax (I used a cheap white candle) note: paraffin wax is not the most environmentally friendly product available, as it is made from mineral oil. However, it is non-toxic, cheaply available and an excellent water-repellent. If you know about an eco-friendly alternative, let me know!
1 part beeswax
The ingredients cost me roughly 1€, and I now have 100 grams of waterproofing wax, which will probably last me my whole lifetime!
Cut your wax in pieces using a sharp knife. If you use a candle like me, remove the wick, and cut off the outer layer of the candle, so you just have the white paraffin inside the candle. Melt everything in a double boiler, or in a wide rimmed glass jar in a pot with a little water. Make sure everything is melted and well combined. Fill the liquid wax into a heat-proof mold or leave it cooling in your jar. If you struggle removing your wax from the mold, put it in the freezer for some time, its will be easy to take out! And done!
Now to the actual waterproofing of the backpack. Make sure your fabric is clean and dry. lay it flat on an even surface and rub the wax on it as evenly as possible. Use a hairdryer to melt the wax into the fabric and repeat if necessary. Apply more wax on areas that are especially exposed to rain or humidity. The more even you apply the better your result will be! Let the fabric cool off for a few minutes.
My backpack looks as good as new, the color is back and the fabric gained stiffness from the wax. I tested it and it really is water repellent now! As a plus, my backpack has a nice soft beeswax smell now. I am really super happy with the result and already thinking about what I could waterproof next…