On board: “If surfers care about their health and the ocean then they will switch,” says Kelly Lees. Picture: Simone Peak KELLY Lees cannot fathom why more surfers don’t use natural board wax.
“I surf and I had been using chemical waxes and they really stink, are heavily fragranced and artificial and when I did a bit of research I was horrified,” she says. “They start life as a grey sludge from petroleum refining and are then bleached using 100 per centstrength bleach, creating dioxins which are toxic and environmentally persistent pollutants. They are solidified using other chemicals that are known carcinogens, including benzene and toluene. The stickiness is derived from resins and synthetic glues and the fragrances can contain aldehydes, benzene derivativesand acetates.”
In response, Lees, who with her partner Anna Scobie founded Newcastlebee-keeping business Urban Hum, created Board Balm. The surfboard wax is made from beeswaxwith added pine resin, coconut oil and a honey myrtle essential oil.
Newcastle company Urban Hum eyes surfboard wax market Mind your beeswax: Urban Hum’s Board Balm for surfboards. Picture: Mel Muddle
Rendering: Kelly Lees making the Board Balm at Urban Hum’s Newcastle factory. Picture: Mel Muddle
Maker: Kelly Lees at the Urban Hum production base in Newcastle. Picture: Mel Muddle
Framed: Kelly Lees at Urban Hum’s Newcastle production factory. Picture: Mel Muddle
Wax on: Board Balm in the making. Picture: Simone de Peak.
TweetFacebook Urban HumLees says Board Balm is the most natural surfing waxon the market:“Every single ingredient is natural, it’s ethically made because all the beeswax is from our hives.”
Urban Hum has tested its hand-made Board Balmat localmarkets and after positive feedback is now launching it in search of stockists.Board Balm is costlier than its mass-produced competitorsbut Ms Lees is optimistic surfers will embrace it.
“It’s about educating people because they wouldn’t lie in a puddle of petrol but they lie on it with their bare skin on a board and your skin is your biggest absorption organ,” she says, adding the wax is biodegradable and doesn’t harm the ocean.
Board Balm is made from the“cappings” of beeswax on a hive frame. Urban Humrenders them by placing them in boiling water, forcing the clean wax to rise to the surface. The other natural ingredients are added before it is poured into a mould.
Urban Hum tends 110 backyard hives in the Hunter.Hive owners pay a small hosting fee and receive a portion of the harvest.The labour is tough but Lees adores her buzzing clients: “They are incredible creatures; I am blown away by the complexity of their communication and life cycle.”