Liquid Wax vs. Paste Wax


Last May we noted in a brief report that a young fellow named Adam Boulay had given us a sample of a new liquid wax. He said the easy-to-apply wax, which he called Dolphinite, was a combination of carnauba wax and Teflon.

Boulay, who paid his way through college waxing boat hulls and then turned it into a fair-sized business, claimed the wax would last five times longer than any other.

We rather quickly extracted from him a modified statement that the wax might outlast other liquid waxes-but not good, hard paste wax. Over the years, with multiple tests, we have established the fact that paste wax is best and that, although both paste and liquid wax jobs may shine brightly in the beginning, the longevity of the protection is directly dependent on the labor required to apply it and buff it out.

Theres something immutable about wax; but we liked the enthusiastic, very confident Boulays challenge.

We promised to test the 25-year-olds Dolphinite against the two top paste waxes (Collinite Fleetwax and Trewax Four Seasons) and the two top liquids (West Marine Premium and Star brite Premium), as established in our most recent test of virtually all brands of wax.

On a 12″ x 18″ fiberglass panel, we masked off twelve 4″ squares. Because we had the room, we applied some other waxes, too. However, the pertinent ones were Panels 3, 7, 8, 9 and 12.

The brightness was checked with the scale and flashlight. The flashlight beam is directed on the waxed surface and the most distant reflected number is read off the scale. In addition, plain water is sprayed on each square to note the beading, which will range from small tiny beads (poor) to big, fat globs (good). Both brightness and beading are judged numerically and then divided into five categories-excellent, very good, good, fair and poor.

The panel was placed outdoors, and the tests were repeated at one-, two- and three-month intervals. The table shows the results, indicating that Dolphinite is a good liquid wax, quite a bit better than the Star brite Premium, slightly better than the West Premium-but not nearly as good as the two top paste waxes.

Do we feel taken in by this engaging young man? Not at all. Do we regret spending the time on this project? No, because if something really remarkable is about to happen, we want to be there.

After all, the test indicated that of the liquid waxes tested Dolphinite ($11.95 for a 16-ounce bottle) is the best, if only by a hair.

Some time we’ll tell you about the bucket of killer bottom paint stripper he left on our doorstep.

(Dolphinite Inc., 43 Water St., Box 12, Beverly, MA 01915; 978/232-3327.)

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida.


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