Global leader in safe, high performance waterproofing, cleaning and conditioning for outdoor gear


2 Comments

Why You Should Pay Attention to Chemistry on this Earth Day

It's up to all of us to do our part to take care of the earth. Photo: NASA

It’s up to all of us to do our part to take care of the earth. Photo: NASA

Chemistry is hard. That’s why most American students put it off until the end of their K-12 years. That’s why university professors allow cheat sheets. That’s why Nikwax employs a gaggle of white lab-coated PhDs on our research and development team.

Those scientists have dedicated more than 30 years to developing Nikwax formulas that produce effective and non-harmful chemical reactions for waterproofing and cleaning.

By “non-harmful,” we mean intentionally avoiding any chemical content or reaction that may be noxious to humans or the environment.

Nikwax is clear on our stance: we believe fluorocarbons have a deleterious effect on humans and the environment, so we don’t use them in any of our products. We have pages and pages of scientific resources on our website to support our belief.

External studies support our stance. Specifically, a 2012 independent scientific study that was commissioned by Greenpeace found perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), in every piece of name brand rain gear they tested.

The apparel industry uses PFCs for coating and finishing outdoor garments or sporting goods, or for the production of breathable membrane. The report calls these PFCs, which do not occur in nature, “environmentally damaging toxins.” What’s more, the report calls for more stringent regulation of all PFCs.

Conclusions from the 2012 study include the following:

  • There is an urgent need to ban PFCs from outdoor wear production.
  • The outdoor clothing industry must continue to develop safer alternatives [to PFCs] and use them in processing their products.
  • PFCs and other chemicals reach drinking water, food and ultimately human blood and breast milk from such various sources as manufacturing and household wastewater, dust and the disposal of textiles.
  • The outdoor clothing industry can go without using PFC and nevertheless manufacture items that meet most customers’ demands for functionality.

That last one really spoke to us. After all, at Nikwax, we’ve been saying that since our inception. We know it is possible to keep our clients dry and warm without dousing their outerwear with toxic chemicals.

Nikwax is 100% fluorocarbon-free, and we will always oppose the inclusion of fluorocarbons in water repellency formulations.

When it comes to chemistry, it’s okay to be confused by the scientific specifics. We don’t expect everyone to understand the chemical makeup of fluorocarbons and their varied derivatives. You may or may not understand the distinctions between the C8 and the C6 carbon chains.

We get it. But we fervently believe that as a product manufacturer we can’t pass the buck. It’s our responsibility to ask the hard questions and to take a stance when the answers show ever so clearly that we should.

That can be the difference between clean water and polluted water. Or between a sick family and a healthy one.

We leave you, on this celebration of Earth Day, with a quote from a chemistry professor, on the tumblr site Chemagical:

“In the sciences, all of these ideas were developed over decades. If this stuff were common sense, we would have had all of this stuff figured out before the 1800’s. These concepts can be difficult, and it’s a hell of a lot better to ask a question and sort out your (and possibly others’) confusion than to wallow in ignorance.”

Here’s to taking charge of our own health, and taking responsibility for the sustainability of our passions and the well being of the environments we love.

Happy Earth Day!

Advertisements


Leave a comment

For 2014: Our commitment to environmental stewardship continues

Increased temperatures resulting from a warming climate will cause an increase in sea ice melt.

Increased temperatures resulting from a warming climate will cause an increase in sea ice melt. Photo courtesy National Center for Atmospheric Research

While science without passion may be dull, passion without science can tilt dangerously toward ignorance.

As we enter our 37th year, Nikwax remains as dedicated as ever to backing our passion with science for the good of the environment and your family’s well being.

In November 2013, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) put out its fifth annual report titled, “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis.” This report underscores the impact of a changing climate, and, we hope, will have the effect of increasing awareness of our responsibility to curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Consider:

  • Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850.
  • Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia.
  • The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.
  • [There is a very high confidence in the reliability of models that] reproduce observed continental-scale surface temperature patterns and trends over many decades, including the more rapid warming since the mid-20th century and the cooling immediately following large volcanic eruptions.

We cannot debate the earth is in a warming trend. The only conceivable debate – which seems to be driven more by politics than science – is how human behaviors are affecting the rate of change. To this, the IPCC report finds:

  • Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes. This evidence for human influence has grown since [the last IPCC report in 2007].
  • It is extremely likely [emphasis provided by IPCC] that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.
  • Warming will continue to exhibit interannual-to- decadal variability and will not be regionally uniform.
  • The global ocean will continue to warm during the 21st century. Heat will penetrate from the surface to the deep ocean and affect ocean circulation.
  • It is very likely that the Arctic sea ice cover will continue to shrink and thin and that Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover will decrease during the 21st century as global mean surface temperature rises. Global glacier volume will further decrease.
  • Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions of CO2 are stopped. This represents a substantial multi-century climate change commitment created by past, present and future emissions of CO2.

We quote these findings as the deep snow mecca of Lake Tahoe in California is experiencing temperatures in the 50’s and historically low snowfall. Many Washington ski areas are trying to scrape by on fewer than 20-inches of snow. We concede these are but two microclimates and other regions may be at normal snowfall levels. But the inconsistent and dramatic weather patterns year-to-year are impossible to ignore.

It’s a new year and another opportunity to make a difference. As a responsible manufacturer of a global product, we acknowledge that we are part of the problem of increasing carbon emissions and a host of other environmental implications. In accepting responsibility, however, Nikwax remains steadfastly committed to minimizing negative impacts on the environment and human health.

We are:

  • The only major outdoor aftercare company to have never used aerosols or fluorocarbons.
  • Dedicated to making products that are fluorochemical-free, derived from nature-based ingredients, not tested on animals, and biodegradable.

Inherent to our philosophies and, more importantly, our practices as a company is that our environmental ethos has been central to our mission since 1980. For three years (1977 founding – 1980), Nikwax was focused solely on creating the most effective product. With our expanding consciousness regarding global environmental concerns in that time period, we made the deliberate decision to maintain our commitment to quality while only adopting formulations and practices that would not put human health or the environment at risk.

We are passionate about protecting the wild lands of the world and allowing future generations to enjoy them in the same (or better) state of health and well being. Our dedication to producing a product that is safe for your family and non-toxic to the environment is as strong as ever.

Call us fuddy-duddies, buzzkills or science geeks. We’ll take them all – so long as we can be part of the solution to protecting our natural world and encouraging your enjoyment of it.

To a healthy and happy 2014!

Further resources:

IPCC Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis


Leave a comment

Why You Should Pay Attention to Chemistry on this Earth Day

It's up to all of us to do our part to take care of the earth. Photo: NASA

It’s up to all of us to do our part to take care of the earth. Photo: NASA

Chemistry is hard. That’s why most American students put it off until the end of their K-12 years. That’s why university professors allow cheat sheets. That’s why Nikwax employs a gaggle of white lab-coated PhDs on our research and development team.

Those scientists have dedicated more than 30 years to developing Nikwax formulas that produce effective and non-harmful chemical reactions for waterproofing and cleaning.

By “non-harmful,” we mean intentionally avoiding any chemical content or reaction that may be noxious to humans or the environment.

Nikwax is clear on our stance: we believe fluorocarbons have a deleterious effect on humans and the environment, so we don’t use them in any of our products. We have pages and pages of scientific resources on our website to support our belief.

External studies support our stance. Specifically, a 2012 independent scientific study that was commissioned by Greenpeace found perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), in every piece of name brand rain gear they tested.

The apparel industry uses PFCs for coating and finishing outdoor garments or sporting goods, or for the production of breathable membrane. The report calls these PFCs, which do not occur in nature, “environmentally damaging toxins.” What’s more, the report calls for more stringent regulation of all PFCs.

Conclusions from the 2012 study include the following:

  • There is an urgent need to ban PFCs from outdoor wear production.
  • The outdoor clothing industry must continue to develop safer alternatives [to PFCs] and use them in processing their products.
  • PFCs and other chemicals reach drinking water, food and ultimately human blood and breast milk from such various sources as manufacturing and household wastewater, dust and the disposal of textiles.
  • The outdoor clothing industry can go without using PFC and nevertheless manufacture items that meet most customers’ demands for functionality.

That last one really spoke to us. After all, at Nikwax, we’ve been saying that since our inception. We know it is possible to keep our clients dry and warm without dousing their outerwear with toxic chemicals.

Nikwax is 100% fluorocarbon-free, and we will always oppose the inclusion of fluorocarbons in water repellency formulations.

When it comes to chemistry, it’s okay to be confused by the scientific specifics. We don’t expect everyone to understand the chemical makeup of fluorocarbons and their varied derivatives. You may or may not understand the distinctions between the C8 and the C6 carbon chains.

We get it. But we fervently believe that as a product manufacturer we can’t pass the buck. It’s our responsibility to ask the hard questions and to take a stance when the answers show ever so clearly that we should.

That can be the difference between clean water and polluted water. Or between a sick family and a healthy one.

We leave you, on this celebration of Earth Day, with a quote from a chemistry professor, on the tumblr site Chemagical:

“In the sciences, all of these ideas were developed over decades. If this stuff were common sense, we would have had all of this stuff figured out before the 1800’s. These concepts can be difficult, and it’s a hell of a lot better to ask a question and sort out your (and possibly others’) confusion than to wallow in ignorance.”

Here’s to taking charge of our own health, and taking responsibility for the sustainability of our passions and the well being of the environments we love.

Happy Earth Day!


Leave a comment

Happy Earth Day!

We here at Nikwax get all warm and fuzzy inside on Earth Day. It’s always so touching to see people from across the globe coming together to help make the world a better place. We enjoy all the attention that Earth Day brings to topics like conservation, responsibility, and working towards a better future. So, in the interest of sharing, we want to let you know that we’re with you in trying to make every day Earth Day.

Here we go!

Our Company:

  • ISO 14001 certified
  • 100% carbon balanced
  • Seattle office powered by 100% wind power
  • Contributes to/ partners with:

Conservation Alliance, Save our Wild Salmon, American Alpine Club, World Land Trust

Our Products:

  • Are all waterbased and biodegradable
  • Do not contain propellants, fluorocarbons or VOCs
  • Not persistent in humans or the environment
  • Not tested on animals

And that’s just the beginning. We invite you to read more about our efforts in our Corporate Social Responsibility Report here. Oh the juicy details!

Now, you might ask, why does Nikwax do all these things? Our founder and owner, Nick Brown, has always been an avid outdoor enthusiast. It was his enthusiasm for being outdoors, no matter the weather, that helped inspire him to create his own waterproofing products for his boots. After creating the original formula for Waterproofing Wax for Leather, Nick turned his imaginative mind to apparel. It was around 1980 that the beginning of ‘green thinking’; awareness of ozone depletion and the problems relating to aerosols arose.

Nick Brown with his first ever patent!

In 1983, determined to find new, easy and ‘clean’, ways to waterproof garments, Nick developed an entirely novel approach. Harmful and flammable solvents were replaced with water, and the Nikwax Water-Based Range was created. Nikwax was the first company in the world to produce a range of water-based products for restoring waterproofing in the home.

This commitment to producing safe products of the highest quality still rings true today. We are constantly striving to improve ourselves. We all share Nick’s love of all things outdoors. With that love comes the responsibility to protect it.

Happy Earth Day from the Nikwax Team!


Leave a comment

You probably don’t need those new boots! How to care for your shoes to make them last.

Footwear, as we all know, takes a lot of abuse. Even so, it has always broken my heart a little to see even my most worn-out (yet beloved) shoes relegated to the trash bin. But, what else can you do? They’re toast, right? Wrong.

A boot or shoe is made up (very roughly speaking) of three basic parts: the sole, the upper and the liner. All of these parts can become broken down or worn out without proper care. WITH proper care, however, your footwear can last you a LOT longer, leaving some extra cash in your pocket and a little less stuff in your local landfill. For extremely detailed direction on caring for your boots, check out this article by our friends at REI, Caring for Hiking Boots: Expert Advice.

A good place to start is by finding a good repair person in your town. Dave Page, Seattle-area Cobbler Extrordinaire, agrees, “resole your shoes. Those things are expensive!” As the authorized repair agent for REI, Vibram, Vasque, Asolo, Montrail, One Sport, Merrell, Raichle, Scarpa, Garmont, Salomon, La Sportiva, Technica, Lowa, Zamberlan, Kayland, EMS and Chaco, the man has resuscitated more pairs of shoes and boots than most of us have ever seen.

Awaiting new life at the hands of Dave Page!

At a cost far below what you would pay to replace your footwear, you can have them repaired and resoled, keeping them out of the landfill and preserving that broken-in comfort you worked so hard for. “Replacing climbing shoes every time the sole wears out makes no sense to me. It’s wasteful and you’re always breaking in a new pair!” says La Sportiva (and Nikwax) rep Ed Sampson.

Ed Sampson teaching retail employees about La Sportiva climbing shoes and mountineering boots – and how to care for them

What’s that you say? You say your boots are still practically new? Well, friend, then you’re in luck! Keeping your boots and shoes clean and waterproof prevents grit from getting into the fabric and leather and breaking them down from the inside. Use Nikwax Footwear Cleaning Gel to remove dirt and grime after use, then follow-up with the Nikwax waterproofer that’s appropriate for your specific type of footwear to maintain the durable water-repellent finish.

Green for Clean!

Purple for Proof!

Waterproofing for fabric and leather combination footwear

Help your footwear work better and last longer. Hike and climb happy and Stay Dry! 🙂

Dave Page is a Seattle-area cobbler who specializes in repairing and resoling hiking and mountaineering boots, climbing shoes and Birkenstocks. If you have a pair of boots or shoes in need of help, contact Dave via his website.

Ed Sampson is a long-time climber and mountaineer who’s built a storied career in the outdoor industry. He is currently part of the Tenaya Group, which represents La Sportiva, Nikwax and Bluewater Ropes in the American Southwest.

Kelsey is the Technical Field Service Rep for Nikwax North America. She travels the country preaching the gospel of gear care as the Nikwax Nerd. Prior to working for Nikwax, Kelsey spent 7 years working in outdoor industry and footwear retail. She welcomes your gear care questions at kelsey.hulse@nikwax.com. Follow her on Twitter @nikwaxnerd.


Leave a comment

You Don’t Need a New Jacket!

You may know this story. You buy a brand new jacket. It is shiny and wondrous.

Bling bling!

You love your new jacket. You go places together, and it keeps you dry and toasty.

Time passes, as it inevitably does, and suddenly your jacket is no longer shiny. As a matter of fact, it seems to have become more absorbent than a sponge. Even if your jacket is Gore-Tex, if it wets out, you will be unhappy. The jacket will weigh you down with its soggy fabric. It will no longer be breathable. The rain might not get through to your skin, but you’re miserable all the same.

What do you do? This jacket was supposed to be waterproof. You storm back to the store and berate the employee who sold this jacket to you. False advertising is unacceptable!

However, the store associate knows her business. She tells you that like a car, outdoor gear needs proper maintenance. She shows you this stuff called Nikwax.

It’s easy to use! Just throw the offending jacket in the washer with Tech Wash first to clean it. Sometimes just cleaning will make your jacket work like new again. Dirt, oil and other grime can muck up the performance of your jacket, making it wet out. Be careful about cleaning your outdoor gear in detergents, they can leave behind a residue that will attract water to your gear, which is a bit counter productive! Tech Wash is a non-detergent cleaner and gets rid of grimy crud and detergent residue! Follow the instructions on the bottle so you know how much to use!

Washy washy!After that cycle is done, you have two options.

#1. You can call it good, and (if the care label allows) put your jacket in the dryer. This will help revitalize any factory applied DWR (durable water repellant) coating. That’s the stuff on the outside of your jacket that makes the water bead up. That’s what failed and allowed your jacket to soak up water. If your jacket is pretty haggard, you might just want to skip to option #2.

#2. You can run another cycle with Nikwax TX. Direct. This will add more of that wondrous DWR to your jacket. Follow the instructions on the bottle to know how much you need to use!

With TX.Direct you do not need to put your jacket in the dyer afterwards. You can if you want to, and the care label allows it, but it is not necessary with Nikwax waterproofing products, as they do not contain fluorocarbons! (Fluorocarbon-based waterproofing requires heat to activate). Save some energy and hang dry.

That’s it! After those steps your jacket will be happy and ready for the next adventure. This process can help you keep your jacket performing year after year! No need to throw it out, no need to buy a new jacket. Save money! Keep your gear out of the landfills! Also, all Nikwax products are created to be safe for you to use, and safe for the environment.

Now get out there and have fun outdoors!

Woohoo! Adventure!~The Nikwax Team


4 Comments

Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, Rewaterproof

Happy Earth Week!

In honor of our esteemed planet, this week we will be offering up tips to help reduce your footprint. Every little bit helps, so grab your Nikwax and follow along! These tips will not only help the earth, but your wallet as well! It’s a win for everyone.

Each day (starting Tuesday) we will have a new blog post with a handy “How-To” tip (using Nikwax), that will help extend the life of your belongings. Keeping items out of landfills, and fighting planned obsolescence tooth and nail, is a huge part of the green revolution. These posts will be featured on our Facebook page and Twitter feeds. We encourage our fans to offer up helpful tips of their own, be they ways to save the planet, or ways to pinch pennies, or both! Also, we will be taking suggestions for topics for our daily posts. We will feature the winning topic in a post on Friday, Earth Day!

But wait… There’s more! We will be giving away two prize packs this Earth Week. One will go to the lucky person who’s blog post idea is chosen. The other will go to a fan who has posted a handy tip, either on our Facebook wall or our Twitter feeds (use @Nikwax). The more tips you give, the more chances you have to win!

Let’s get this party started!

~The Nikwax Team