Dave Reynolds presses the bar of green-tinted wax toward his nose and takes a big sniff.
It took him years to perfect the smell of the surf wax, the right scent that offers subtle hints of herb.
The Huntington Beach surfer knew he got it right when he approached a random guy in a parking lot a few years back, handing the stranger a bar of wax and asking what he thought it smelled like.
“Mmmm, marijuana,” the man replied.
“Then, I kind of knew I was on the right track,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds’ Weed Waxx idea is a decade in the making, but it’s only since California eased its laws earlier this year — and the stigma against the marijuana seems to be lessening — that he thought it was the right time to light a fire under his business.
History of surf wax
Reynolds, a surf artist known for his trophies handed out at many of the contests along the coast, learned much about the history of surf wax from an exhibit he curated years ago at the Huntington Beach International Surf Museum.
Prior to surf wax, surfers would try many tricks to gain traction on boards, like etching a grid pattern into the wood, or mixing sand with varnish for a rough finish so they wouldn’t slip off the board. Some guys tried floor wax on their surfboards. Then began the application of paraffin wax, used at the time by women trying to tan their skin, Reynolds said.
Eventually, surfers got wise, adding petroleum jelly to soften the paraffin wax along with scent. Another big improvement came when someone decided to add calcium carbonate to the wax, giving it a white, creamy look.
According to a cut-out magazine page from a 2010 issue of Surfer Magazine that Reynolds keeps in his Huntington Beach workshop, the first wax for a surfboard was sold in Huntington Beach out of Jack’s Surfboards in 1965.
It was in the early ’70s that surf wax started being mass produced by two California companies – Wax Research with their “Sticky Bumps” product out of San Diego, and Mr. Zog’s Sex Wax made in Carpinteria. According to the article, an estimated 10 million bars of wax are produced worldwide each year.
The most popular waxes have fruity notes, with coconut, root beer and bubble gum a few of the more successful scents. Some failed attempts: pumpkin, pine, banana and lemon, according to the article.
And there have been other wild ideas when it comes to surf wax, according to a book called Surfboard Wax: A History, written by Jefferson Wagner — for instance, orange-scented beeswax. Another wax is called “shark repellent” but comes with a note on the package that warns: “this product does not repel sharks.”
There was even a wax called “sick pig,” made to look like pig puke.
Reynolds isn’t the first Orange County surfer to try and get creative with surf wax. A brand called Waxy Wax in Seal Beach launched about ten years ago with bright, florescent colors so surfers could stand out or add art to their boards.
But he is the first, he believes, to try and make a marijuana-smelling surf wax.
Developing the scent
The first step was getting the scent just right.
Reynolds tried to get creative, even ordering a skunk scent off the internet — the stuff hunters use to mask their own smell.
That idea stank.
Then, he found out there were fragrance labs that could help weed out the specific smell he was looking for.
“They do nothing but develop scents for hundreds of products, from cleaning supplies to perfumes and lotions,” he said.
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He needed somewhere close by since mailing marijuana buds as samples was out of the question, and found a place in Van Nuys within driving distance.
“I left the buds with them, and they started sending me tiny jars with samples,” he said. “Since the marijuana is organic, you can’t replicate that exact smell, it’s just not doable. But you can get pretty close.”
His favorite varietal and the one he eventually picked was named after “blue dream,” a fruity, pine smell, he said.
He expanded the Weed Waxx to include snowboard wax, called “Speedy Weedy’s,” and wax for skaters called “Kurb Kush,” used to smear on curbs to help a skater glide while they grind. There’s also a “Maui Wowie,” in the shape of a giant doobie, for warmer, tropical weather. There’s also a scented candle that will soon hit the market.
“They are all things I’m hoping to get out there to the mainstream this year, now that the laws have lightened up a bit,” he said. “Even though they legalized it, it’s still a little edgy.”
Don’t smoke it
While the waxes are made with hemp seed oil, there’s no illegal substances in the product, he said.
Whatever you do, don’t try and smoke it. Yes, he’s gotten e-mails asking.
The brand’s motto: “Surfing is a natural high.”
Most sales are online, but the Weed Waxx has hit some Huntington Beach surf shops like Rockin’ Fig and 17th street Surf Shop, as well as a few local smoke shops. He hired a sales rep this year to help distribute the product to more mainstream stores.
“Some people think I’m completely nuts and some people think I’m a genius,” he said. “I get all kinds of reactions from it.”
One thing he’s pretty blunt about: He’s not planning on quitting his day job as an artist and inventor.
“There’s not a lot of money in surf wax,” he said. “It’s not like it’s a million-dollar idea.”
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