waterproofing canvas

Discussion in 'Shelter' started by therecyclingviking, Jan 3, 2017.

  1. therecyclingviking

    therecyclingviking Tracker

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    Seen several videos with people waterproofing canvas with bees wax, linseed oil, and turpentine. Does anyone know what each of these ingredients do individually?
  2. 3Rotts

    3Rotts Supporter Supporter

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    I'm interested in this topic also. I have been looking at tarps, canvas and oilskins(DeerCreek) and trying to decide myself.
  3. feellnfroggy

    feellnfroggy Guide

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    Beeswax waterproofs, linseed oil thins out the wax and helps it absorb into the material as well as preventing it from keeping melting each time it's in the sun. Turpentine prevents the bees from haunting your bag trying to take their wax back. There's a post on this reasoning where he also gives the tested best measurements for the ingredients for best results and application procedures. I'm sure someone knows which link in referring to and will share it here.
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  4. therecyclingviking

    therecyclingviking Tracker

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    Thanks and if anyone can provide a link I would appreciate it.
  5. Trackerfiend

    Trackerfiend Guide

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    David's Passage on YouTube could be the video. I can't remember the title but, it's real easy to locate on his channel.

    Sent from my LGMS330 using Tapatalk
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  6. Terasec

    Terasec Scout

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    Terpentine dilutes the beeswax so it can be applied to the canvas
    The terpentine then evaporates and your left with beeswax coating
    Linseed oil is another option that is applied by itself
    Both need to be reapplied on a regular basis depending on use
  7. NC_Veiðimaður

    NC_Veiðimaður Tracker

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    Can anyone point me to a canvas that would be appropriate? Ive seen the painters drop cloth used and most people had a bad thing or two to say about it. Ive looked at the ones BCO offers but theyre pretty steep price wise.
  8. Terasec

    Terasec Scout

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    what is the purpose of doing so?
    and useage of the tent?
    trying to keep it traditional?
    i looked at traditional methods for such when making my tents,
    basically traditional usage, was smaller tents, so was easier for them to apply on smaller scale,
    also they reapplied it fairly often, whether once a year or 2-3 times a year
    they didnt have same definition of waterproof as we do today, as long as it wasnt major flooding inside the tent their waterproofing was successful
    for canvas material cotton is most common and most recent
    before cotton it was hemp and linen,
    painters drop cloth is fine, as long as its 100% cotton, and not some blend. just have to remember it has a more open weave as its intended to absorb the paint not repel it
  9. NC_Veiðimaður

    NC_Veiðimaður Tracker

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    Yes, for shelter use, that was one of the downsides In aware of as well as the drop cloth doing a measurable ammount of stretching.
  10. Dravous

    Dravous Scout

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    back when I was researching this I came to somewhat different conclusions than the replies so far. not trying to start an argument but this is what I found:

    1. the wax is what actually seals(water proofing), and is very robust but it tends to be very stiff.
    2. beeswax vs paraffin, haven't found a good answer as to how these are different in the context of waterproofing. I have seen beeswax used more often with footgear products, and I saw something that noted that sailors a couple hundred years ago preferred paraffin. many recipes use both.
    3. linseed oil(which can seal on its own) is added to increase malleability, but alone is very susceptible to certain spores(mildew/mold).
    4. turpentine is used to thin the mix for application but also as an anti-microbial(mold/mildew/fungus). it helps stabilize the treatment.

    so not sure about beeswax vs paraffin(and it could be something as simple as availability), and I believe linseed oil alone is not particularly robust and/or is messy without the addition of wax, which is why it can be used alone but often isn't.
  11. highlander

    highlander Supporter Supporter

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    Thompson's Water Seal is a non-traditional alternative. Less flammable when it dries too
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  12. Terasec

    Terasec Scout

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    also when looking at traditional methods, region and timeframe will be a factor,
    civil war methods will vary from early settlers methods
  13. Subdood

    Subdood Ex-bubblehead Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    This is the recipe I used to restore and old Swagman. It worked like a champ, but there is significant drying time. Once dried it was as good as or better than new. A friend used it to waterproof a canvas bed roll he made too.

    Maintaining Traditional Oil Skins and Tin Cloth

    Fixin' to do my Finn GM bag too.
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  14. highlander

    highlander Supporter Supporter

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    Pine Tar/ pitch is also a waterproofing material some Civil War canvas stuff was coated in it.
  15. feellnfroggy

    feellnfroggy Guide

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    I may have said it backwards, this sounds more like it. Turpentine dilutes, then evaporates, and linseed prevents the bees from haunting you...
  16. TrespassersWilliam

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    Canvas naturally swells when wet and will repel water unless you brush against it.

    Adding wax or oil will increase the fire hazard. Borax is sometimes mixed in with the waterproofing to help mitigate the threat from stray sparks ending in a fiery death.

    Some living history/re-enactment events will not allow tents that have been treated to be pitched. Reason being fire safety more than making stitch nazis happy.
  17. mtnoutdoors

    mtnoutdoors Scout

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    I have seen it done but not try to do it my self. Would like to give it a shot so I will be keeping and eye on this to see what other people have come up with.
    Prov 27:17
  18. 3855singleshot

    3855singleshot Supporter Supporter

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    If you want to know more, contact Exy, a member here, because him and I use the same mixture and he taught me!
  19. therecyclingviking

    therecyclingviking Tracker

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    Found it thank you.
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  20. therecyclingviking

    therecyclingviking Tracker

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    Some of you have talked about it being flammable how flammable does it become? Is there a way to still do it and maybe add something to lower the chance of a fiery death?
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  21. Backyard

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    Interested in this as I asked a similar question and most of the responses were something along the following; "Filson coats are waxed canvas, and they've been around for a long time."
  22. Terasec

    Terasec Scout

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    The dangerous part is in the application
    As your melting the wax and working with terpentine nearby
    Once applied dried and terpentine evaporated
    Not much more of a hazard than having a flame too close to an untreated canvas tent
    Most likely over time you will see pinholes through the canvas where ashes/embers hit the canvas
  23. Backyard

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    After a few more searches on this topic, I've come to a non-conclusive opinion on the following.

    Waxed cloth is waterproof buy brittle in the cold, cloth soaked in linseed oil is light weight and waterproof buy takes a long time to cure and turns yellow, turpentine in a waxed cloth recipe is there to be a solvent and help make applying the wax easier, some people are using orange oils in place of turpentine because they think it smells better.

    I can't find any info on people that have worn oil cloth or waxed canvas catching on fire. Which makes little sense to me, but I can't find any info on the subject.

    I think I'm going to have to experiment.
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  24. therecyclingviking

    therecyclingviking Tracker

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    If you do let us know what you find out
  25. Backyard

    Backyard Supporter Supporter

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    Will do. Going to do a linseed oil pillow case and a small canvas tarp with a wax, linseed, turp mix. Keep a few control pieces and try to get them to burst into flames.
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  26. OutnBacker

    OutnBacker Scout

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    Maybe I can help with the fire issue...

    The above recipes are all probably pretty good. Personally, I think a lot of different ingredients will work to waterproof canvas. I use toilet rings for the wax part, but it has been pointed out to me that they are n longer beeswax, but a mixture of petroleum products. nonetheless, they fill the bill for the wax part. So here's how I do it:
    2 parts wax ; 1 part turpentine ; 1 part boiled linseed oil.

    2 toilet rings melted, make about 16oz of liquid, so, add 8oz each oil and turp. You can paint it on wet, or wait til it cools to a paste and spread on with a plastic putty knife, which is the method I use because it is easier to get a more uniform application that way. The turp will smell for a few weeks, but it thins the oil and evaps the smell of the oil faster and it all goes away eventually. The wax and the oil solids will remain in the fabric and you have a very water resistant or even a waterproof fabric.

    As to the fire question, lets take a look at this vid I just posted...
  27. clanmaki

    clanmaki Supporter Supporter

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    I have never used Boiled Linseed oil, but I have heard that after awhile it will make cotton fall apart!
    I have used mink oil to thin out the bees wax/paraffin mixture and have had great success!
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  28. Backyard

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    Thank you!
  29. Backyard

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    Linseed or Flax Oil was used to make sail cloth on ships for decades. Now this is different than the boiled linseed oil sold in stores today. There is plenty of info available to help understand the difference, yet I have found no information that using Linseed or Flax Oil does anything other than waterproof and turn the fabric a bit yellow.
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  30. tomme boy

    tomme boy Scout

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    Paraffin wax is petroleum based while bees wax is bee based. Bees wax will start to melt at around 140 degs or so. Paraffin starts to melt at about 100 deg. The flash point for paraffin is about 390 and 400deg for bees wax.

    My self I would mix in some lanolin. It will make the wax a little softer and still be waterproof. Lanolin is the wax or grease from sheeps wool.

    I have a guy that I get all of my bees wax from and lanolin. He has contacs with honey farms and sells his clean bees wax to people that make their own lube for lubing cast lead bullets. Plus he has other types of wax. If you want to make the wax hard, he sells grated carnauba wax. It takes very little of this for a hard wax.
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  31. OutnBacker

    OutnBacker Scout

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    I've heard about the lanolin thing.
  32. tomme boy

    tomme boy Scout

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    Plus you can use the lanolin to rehab some of your old wool blankets.
  33. OutnBacker

    OutnBacker Scout

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    Now I remember reading about lanolin in natural wool products. I just wish I could recall the source. Anyway, it was the Roman army that was equipped with woolen capes for bad weather. Probably a lot of other armies as well through the centuries. The lanolin was not processed out and so, it helped in waterproofing the garment. I doubt they had any idea of the chemical and most likely just knew that it worked if not over processed into finer fabric. Just like they did not know why camping next to a swamp brought illness, and therefore codified it as prohibited for any commander to billet his men within a certain distance of any low watery place with no drainage. According to Josephus, I think.
  34. therecyclingviking

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    Thanks man that settles that question.
  35. TN_Woodman

    TN_Woodman Scout

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    I have made small (about 3x3 ft) pieces of oil cloth with boiled linseed oil and with a mixture of BLO and mineral spirits. Once dry, you have to hold an open flame to it for quite some time to get it to burn.

    Added about a cup of baking soda to a qt of BLO will help keep it from breaking down the cloth.
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  36. PDA

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  37. OutnBacker

    OutnBacker Scout

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    That's pretty much what I did for my sheet as well, except I added melted toilet rings and mixed it at 2 parts T-rings; 1 part BLO; 1 part turpentine (evaporator). I use it as a cockpit cover on my sailboat and for general camp use as a porch extension for the tent(s). I found a dark green sheet at Value-Village so the color worked out great. My sewn-in reinforcements are a lot more robust, made of canvas with a large canvas patch in the center for guying up or using a center pole.

    Weighs 3.8lbs for those who care. I don't.

    The edges are folded over thrice and the resulting edge seam is about 1-1/2" wide.

    The second one I made - not pictured - has much stronger and larger edge reinforcements and loops rather than grommets, which I'm sure will eventually wear through.
    007.JPG Sheet Tarp1.JPG Sheet Tarp2.JPG
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