Bow Season Prep: How to Properly Apply Bowstring Wax


Waxing a bow string is one of the most important pieces of maintenance you can do for your bow. Without it, your bow sting is greatly reduced in life, and can quickly wear out. However, there is a lot of debate about when to wax your bow, what kind of bowstring wax to use, and just how important it is.

Historically bow strings have been made of various kinds of natural fibers which were more susceptible to wear than modern synthetic materials. To reduce friction wear, as well as microscopic damage from dust, and to prevent the string from absorbing water, strings are periodically waxed.

While there are plenty of historically authentic bows out there, there are also a lot of bows that would surely confuse our ancestors. Modern compound bows are carefully tuned and balanced instruments made with synthetic materials. That isn’t to say they don’t have to be maintained and cared for, or that they’re immune from the effects of weather- rather, they may just need a little different treatment.

Bowstring wax comes in a variety of formulas, and even sprays. Deciding which bowstring wax is best for you is half voodoo, half listening to the manufacturer of your string. Natural fiber and material strings should be treated with beeswax. It has stood the test of time for a reason. Synthetic fiber strings are best treated according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and ideally using their preferred brand of wax or lube.

Let’s take a closer look at what happens when bow strings get used so you can better understand the importance of using bow string wax.

A bow string is under a lot of tension when strung on a traditional bow, and when drawn on a compound bow. That tension when drawn and released, imposes severe amounts of stress on the string. During that movement, dust and particulates in the air can work their way into the string. These microscopic particles in-turn cause microscopic wear on the fibers of your bow string – wear that grows and magnifies until your bow string is damaged or fails.

When you wax your bowstrings, you reduce the chance of those contaminants entering the string, and thus improve the life of your bow string. As a general rule, you should wax your bow string when it starts looking fuzzy, or when the wax is dirty.

Remember, a clean bowstring is one that lasts longer.

Another important reason to use bowstring wax is to prevent the string itself from untwisting. Think of bowstring wax as a sort of glue for your bowstring. Without it, your bowstring will not only abrade over time, but untwist itself and come apart. There is simply no reason not to be using it.

Applying bowstring wax is very easy. To do so, rub the wax up and down the length of the bow string while being careful not to allow any container that it might be in to rub against it. You want to avoid getting any on the the servings, as well. After you have applied the wax, gently rub it into the string by running the bow string between your fingers and allowing friction to gently heat the wax and let it flow into the string. Wipe off any excess wax with a soft cloth or piece of leather, and you are good to go!

Sometimes, wax gets dirty and has to be removed and then applied again. The easiest way to remove bowstring wax is to take a piece of serving material and wrap it around the string, then pull downward, stripping the wax off. After you have the dirty bow string wax off, simply reapply wax as you normally would.

If you are using a synthetic bow string, consider bowstring wax specially formulated for synthetic string. While natural beeswax will work, using a wax designed for synthetic materials will work even better, because it will better work with the unique physical properties of synthetic materials.

Knowing that you have to wax your bow string, and fairly regularly (although how often depends on a number of unique weather and use factors) is important. Selecting a high quality bow string wax is also important. The same rules apply for crossbows too! Barnett sells a crossbow string wax that also serves as a lubricant for the crossbow barrel, which increases velocity.

When choosing a bowstring wax, never hesitate to ask the manufacturer of your string or bow which is best. When in doubt, select a natural beeswax for natural strings, and a popular, high quality wax for synthetic strings when using that material. Waxing a bow string isn’t hard, and neither is choosing bow string wax, so don’t hesitate to use it whenever you feel or see the need to!

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