To wax or not to wax?

That is the question!

Being 'that time of year' thoughts do tend to drift towards storage of your gear and planning for the next year, so I thought, 'dry-suit zips!' what have I usd over the years and what is best, so read on....oh and if you haven't time for the full article just take away one piece of info...don't use WD40 

It's fair to say that you need to keep any zip on your kit well maintained, be that dry-suit, gloves, boots or wet-suits, the effect of repeat immersion in salt water will rapidly render zips un-usable. Now on gloves and to some extent boots, so what? These bits are low cost but if you don't maintain your dry-suit zip then you could be in for some major replacement costs!

There are a large number of products available to keep your zip in tip-top condition and whilst I haven't used all of the products and my knowledge is based on three particular products I can say that I have used these products for significant periods of time, the three products are:-

1) Beeswax
2) O'Three 'zip-slip'
3) Scuba-pro

Ok, Beeswax, if we go back to the dim and distant past the first readily available 'dry-suit' was a 'orrible orange and black tri-laminate suit made by Typhoon. The tri-lam suits available to todays divers can be quite accurately tailored but this suit, whilst not quite 'one size fits all' didn't have many size options......oh and the neck seal was low quality and prone to ripping with the first mod of choice being a large, hard plastic neck ring and 'loose seals' stored in talc, but I digress.

Supplied with this suit was a small block of beeswax and to be honest I have used beeswax on and off over the last quarter of a century, it's cheap, easy to use, readily available and it does the job.


My well used block of beeswax

Now the only dowside to bees-wax is for those of you who are a little lax in their regular maintenance, if you don't wax the zip prior to winter storage it's not possible to get the wax 'into' the slider to lubricate the zip and get a frozen slider 'moving' again. In cases like this you need a liquid lubricant or copious amounts of quite hot water.

Next 'bespoke' zip-slip from O'three, I got this product free when I acquired my dry-suit in 2011 and have used it since then and it works very well.

I am not sure of the contents of this paste, there is obvioulsy an organic carrier, probably xylene or similar, which makes the paste 'fluid' and rapidly disperses when you have applied to the zip and dried it smells very much like a furniture polish I use which is basically carnuba and bees-wax.

The product is supplied in a small pot with an applicator brush built into the lid and you basically paint it onto the zip, the benefit over a bees-wax block is that you can 'force it' into a slider which has frozen and get it moving again.


O'three 'zip-slip' complete with 'frazzled brush'

The product is relatively expensive, certainly when compared to bees-wax, but a small pot lasts a long-time, mine is about half full and I do hundreds of UK dives a year. The applicator does go a bit 'frazzled' over time but it still works. I guess the acid test is would I buy it and the answer is yes.

Finally the scuba-pro product, I bought a bottle of this product from scuba-pro about 5 years ago and to be honest I haven't looked for any since, enough said!

Well perhaps not, ok the applicator was a brush built onto the end of a small bottle and to be honest it was just two small, you had to use it with the zip open which meant you used the stuff at a very high rate, I eventually cut the brush off and threw it away.

This product really, really smelt of the organic carrier which meant that the wax content wasn't as high as the 'zip-slip', this may mean that it would be better with frozen zips, which I suppose is a plus point should you find yourself in that situation.

I stand by my orginal comment, I didn't like it and wouldn't buy it again, as I can't find it advertised perhaps Scuba-pro have withdrawn it and I couldn't anyway!

So in summary, you have to regularly wash clean your zips in warm fresh water and apply a lubricant, if you are thorough then the block of beeswax is the way forward, if you a bit 'scatter-gun' then maybe the 'zip-slip' is the best way forward?

Richies Ratings : 9/10 (Beeswax) you just have to be organised, wash your zip and wax it regularly.

Richies Ratings : 8/10 (zip-slip), good for those with a more 'relaxed approach' to kit maintenance, only downside is the higher cost

Richies Ratings : 2/10 (scuba-pro), 'orrible!

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