In late 2014, a member of a fly fishing forum I am on asked the group about waxing bamboo fly rods, specifically whether or not he could apply wax to an Orvis Bamboo Fly Rod he owned that Orvis had treated with an impregnation compound.
I repeated his question on several forums which focused on making bamboo fly rods and I received ten comments regarding waxing an impregnated bamboo fly rod. One guy said he has waxed Orvis rods for 40 years with no problems. Another says the rods have gone as long or longer without any wax.
Of the comments, most use wax, about a third don’t, nobody saw any ill effects. Some additional comments were that:
Applying wax can give a gloss to the finish, rather than the satin finish of impregnation.
Several thought the application of wax was good for the varnish over the thread wraps.
There were several wax recommendations, but one that kept coming up on other forums was Butcher’s Bowling Alley Wax. A Google search turned up several sources, but a good one seemed to be http://www.bwccompany.com.
If you go to: http://www.conservationsupportsystems.com/product/show/butchers-white-diamond-wax/waxes-wax-formulated
you will see that Butcher’s Bowling Alley Wax is manufactured by BWC ; Butcher’s Wax is a blend of carnauba and microcrystalline waxes with mineral spirits as a softening agent.
There was a caution on the forums against the use of waxes containing Silicon; Silicon is supposed to cause a problem when refinishing with varnish.
Finally, I went to the Orvis website (http://www.orvis.com/intro.aspx?dir_id=758&subject=2877) and I saw this:
“Bamboo Fly Rod Care Tips From Orvis Master Craftsman: Ron White
Polishing bamboo fly rods
Bamboo fly rods are more than just fishing tools; they are true pieces of art. Wiping them clean is the most important step in keeping them beautiful, but to bring out the best shine and luster, polish the fly rod with a furniture polish and a soft cloth. Whitey prefers a paste style polish for the job.”
I then called Orvis’ Customer Service and talked with Paul. Paul contacted Ron White and here is what Ron said (loosely translated):
–Most paste waxes are good. Most paste waxes contain some amount of petroleum distillates, but if the wax is applied according to directions and in moderation, there is no damage to an impregnated rod. Ron recommended both Butcher’s Bowling Alley Wax (Clear) and Renaissance Micro-Crystalline Wax. Both have solvents in them but if used as directed they have never caused a problem with the finish, wraps, or bluing. Ron said that the absolute best wax to use is Renaissance Micro-Crystalline Wax.–
If you go to either http://www.bwccompany.com or http://www.conservationsupportsystems.com/product/show/butchers-white-diamond-wax/waxes-wax-formulated or http://www.conservationsupportsystems.com/product/show/renaissance-wax/waxes-wax-formulated
you can find a number of good waxes, including both the ones recommended by Ron White. The Butcher’s is about $18.99 for 16 ounces and the Renaissance is about $15.99 for 65 ml (yes, that’s milliliters).
I have been using a small tin of pure Carnauba Wax (sold for guitars) and am happy with it.