Make Your Own Axe Wax – 3 Easy Recipes

Axe wax has become a very popular way to finish on your axe. It will protect the head and handle from moisture and give an axe a wonderful tactile feel in hand. Some can even be used to moisturize and waterproof your sheath too.

But if you need a lot, it can be expensive at around $20 for a 2oz can. It is well worth the price if you only have one or two axes, but that can add up quickly. 

Axe wax is made by mixing penetrating wood oil with a hardening wax. Often it is made with linseed oil and beeswax, but depending on the recipe can have other oils, waxes, and additives like turpentine. Making axe wax costs around 1/10th the cost of store-bought and can be made food-safe or not. 

I have 3 simple recipes you can use to make a LOT of axe wax for very little money. It can cost less than 1/10th the price per ounce.


What do you need to make Axe Wax?

The two waxes I used most are food safe and incredibly easy to make – only taking 20 minutes and 2 ingredients, and a heat safe container or jar.

Ingredients:
1. RAW linseed oil (amazon)
2. Food-grade beeswax – pellets are best(amazon)

Alternative oils:

Raw linseed oil can be a little tough to find, it’s often not sold at the big box stores so there are a couple of easier alternatives.

Raw flaxseed oil is the same thing as raw linseed oil, just marketed for cooking. It’s on Amazon, it’s usually cheaper than “Linseed” oil for some reason.

Food safe mineral oil or cutting board oil is also easy to find and might even be something you already have in the kitchen. This will work the same but make a white wax (doesn’t matter when applied). 

I typically don’t use boiled linseed oil as it contains metals and chemicals to help it dry/harden. I don’t want that absorbed into my hands, used on leather sheaths, or possibly getting on my food in bushcraft. It can also dry out your wax over time. But I do have a recipe that uses BLO further down. 

Choosing a wax:

Wax is pretty easy to find. You can get big bags of food-grade beeswax pellets on Amazon for under $20. Yellow or white – doesn’t matter. It won’t impact the look once applied to the axe itself.

You can get wax from local beekeepers/farmer’s markets, but to be honest I mostly use Amazon. The tiny pellets melt WAY faster, and I’m too lazy to break the bricks apart.

Optional Carnauba Wax:
You can add carnauba wax to the mixture to create a harder finish. Split the wax portion to be 20-33% Carnauba wax – and keep the rest beeswax.

I’m not sure it’s worth the money or effort. But it’s an option if you want a really hard wax. 


How to make standard axe wax

Food safe, medium finish, and soft enough to rub into wooden handles or scratches and pitting of a restored axe head. This is a classic paste wax. 

Equipment you will need:
– Pot
– Heat safe container (for the wax)
– Stovetop or burner

Step 1. Measure out the ingredients

Measure the ingredients by volume (not weight), using measuring cups.
– 1 part raw linseed oil
– 1 part beeswax

This is why I like the wax pellets, they are much easier to measure. This ratio can be adjusted to your preference, by adding more oil to make it softer, and more wax to make it harder.

I wouldn’t go softer than 2:1 Oil/Wax, or harder than 1:1.5 Oil/Wax (if you want a hard wax jump to Recipe 2).

Step 2. Melt the wax

Partially fill the pot with water and start to heat it.

Put your wax in a HEAT SAFE container, and then put the container in the pot, either floating or sitting on a platform above the pot bottom. 

TIP: If you are using a glass jar, make sure it is in the water before you start boiling otherwise you risk breaking the glass. I have done it. 

Essentially you’re making a double boiler. Make sure your container is not sitting on the pot bottom itself, it should either be floating or raised. I use mason jar rings.

I have found that a half cup of wax pellets takes about 10 min.

Step 3. Stir in the oil

Once the wax is liquid, pour in the oil and stir it together. The colder oil will start to harden the wax immediately so you will need to keep it in (or return it to) the pot while you stir.

Step 4. Let it cool

Once the mixture is a consistent and clear liquid you can remove it from the pot. 

Just wait for it to cool and harden so you can apply

Step 5. Apply to the axe

Cooling fully will take a few hours, but you can start applying sooner (it will be easier). Just rub the mixture into the handle and axe head. I tend to let it sit for 30min to an hour before wiping away any excess.

I find the best finish comes from a handle that has first been sanded with 400 grit sandpaper and well oiled in advance. Add a couple of coats of wax over time to build up the coating. 

For the absolute best method to oil and wax your handle, see my step-by-step guide.

TIP: Consider not waxing the top of the eye. You may want to leave the top grain open so oil can still be absorbed.


How to make hard axe wax

A hard finish, this wax will be more a puck you rub directly on the axe. Hard wax is a better and more resilient coating to protect the axe head. It can also be used as a harder finishing layer on the handle.

Equipment you will need:
– Pot
– Heat safe container (temporary)
– Aluminum foil
– Foil tray (optional)
– Stovetop or burner

Step 1. Measure out ingredients

Mixture (by volume):
– 1 part raw linseed oil
– 2 parts beeswax

Step 2. Make a mold with the foil

This wax will be too hard to scoop from a container, so you need to make a mold to pour into.

I use a little cup of aluminum foil and set it in the mouth of a small jar. This makes it a nice handy-sized puck for using around the shop.

Step 3. Melt the wax in a tray

Heat water in the pot. The same double boiler technique as the previous recipe, except consider that you are going to be pouring the wax out of its container. 

I melt the wax in a foil tray for this method, floating on the hot water (or hanging on the pot edge). You can form a spout and the wide surface area melts the wax quickly.

Step 4. Stir in the oil

Once the wax is liquid – pour the oil into the tray and stir it together. The colder oil will start to harden the wax immediately so you will need to keep it in (or return it to) the pot while you stir.

Step 5. Pour mixture into the mold and let it cool

Once you have poured the mixture into the mold, it needs to harden. But, you will want to pull the foil out of the jar before it gets too hard and possibly gets stuck.

Step 6. Application

This wax should be 100% hardened before application. Give it at least 6 hours to harden.

Simply rub the puck on the head or handle to apply the wax, and then rub the axe with your hands to really work it in. This hard wax is nice because it’s less messy to apply, but I often use it in tandem with the softer wax. Like a 1 – 2 combo.


How to make axe wax with boiled linseed oil

medium-hard finish, tougher to scoop out and apply than the essential wax but keeps hardening over time to create a nice finish.

Mixture (by volume)
1 part boiled linseed oil
1 part beeswax – pellets are best (amazon)
1 part turpentine

This recipe can be modified for preference. Just add more oil to make it softer (I wouldn’t make it harder).

Equipment you will need:
– Pot
– Heat safe container (for the wax)
– Stovetop or burner

I like to melt the wax directly in the container I’m going to store the axe wax in, reducing the mess and hassle. 

I use a camp stove but I’m sure a BBQ would work. 

Caution: I would not prepare this one in your kitchen. Do it outside, or in the workshop. Turpentine smells incredibly strong, and your family will not appreciate it (trust me). I have used a camp stove but I’m sure a BBQ would work.  Turpentine doesn’t smell “bad”, but it’s strong.

This process is almost identical to the first wax (just different ingredients).

My big tub of this wax is about 2 years old, finally got to the bottom

Step 1. Melt the wax

Partially fill your pot with water and start to heat it.

Put your wax in the HEAT SAFE container, and then put the container in the pot, either floating or sitting on a platform above the pot bottom. 

Make sure your container is not sitting on the pot bottom itself, it should either be floating or raised. 

Remember: If you are using a glass jar, make sure it is in the water before you start boiling otherwise you risk breaking the glass. I have done it. 

Step 2. Stir in the oil & turpentine 

Once the wax is liquid – pour in the oil and turpentine and stir it all together.

Step 3. Let it cool

Once the mixture is a consistent liquid (no lumps) you can remove it from the pot. Wait for it to cool and harden so you can apply

Step 4. Apply

Cooling fully will take a few hours, but you can start applying sooner (it will be easier). Just rub the mixture into the handle and axe head. I tend to let it sit for 30min to an hour before wiping away any excess.


Common questions:

How much axe wax do I need?
I make it about 8-16oz at a time. That will last a long time and leave me ingredients left over for other uses or future waxes. But the wax won’t go bad.

Do you need a food-safe axe wax?
I typically prefer it – especially for applying by hand. And if you make it in bulk it can also be used on knives, cutting boards, countertops, tabletops, you name it. Having extra food-safe wax on hand won’t hurt.

Food-safe axe wax is ideal to protect a backpacking or bushcraft axe that might be used on food or game. The wax is thick enough to avoid spills, and only a small amount is needed adding little weight to a pack. It is also better for leather sheaths. 

Can the wax dry out?
If you don’t keep your wax sealed it will dry out and get harder. I have found this, especially for the workshop wax. But you can always just re-melt the mixture and add a little more oil to soften it back up.

If I missed something or you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment below. I do my best to respond to everyone.


About the author:

I’m an amateur outdoorsman who loves axes – as a tool, the craft of restoring them, and the history. I got tired of only finding crap websites, so I set out to build a reliable one myself.

Jim B. – Owner, Creator


Similar Posts

4 Comments

  1. Great article
    You may want to read the Chemistry of BLO and the Drying process. The Drying is actually an Oxidation. Whereas the Oil oxidizes to form a long chain polymer. Its really quite interesting
    Thank you

    1. Honestly I’ve never quite understood what makes the BLO harden other than just “drying out”. But I think you’re right, i’m going to need to read up. Thanks for the explanation.

  2. Wow, incredible article. Just purchased my first axe and also interested in finishing various tool handles. Greatly appreciate your knowledge and your time putting this out there. Super job

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.