What Is Waxed Thread?

G. Wiesen

Waxed thread is a type of thread that is often used in a number of different crafts and sewing applications. This thread is basically made by lightly coating individual pieces of thread, usually polyester or nylon, with wax, sometimes combining these together into larger spools of thread. It appears much like any other type of thread, except it has a somewhat glossy finish and can appear slightly darker than the thread really is. Waxed thread can be used for a number of different applications, such as beadwork, hand sewing, leatherwork and jewelry making, though it should not be used for baking or cooking.

Waxed thread has greater strength than regular thread.
Waxed thread has greater strength than regular thread.

Sometimes called waxed cord or waxed string, waxed thread is often found in craft stores or fabric stores. It is typically made by coating individual strands of thread in wax, often bee’s wax. This final thread is often three or four ply for greater strength and durability. Though there are many different uses for waxed cord, it is often preferred for applications that may be exposed to the elements, since the wax makes it fairly waterproof and less likely to mildew.

Waxed thread can be used with beads.
Waxed thread can be used with beads.

Waxed thread is often used in handmade crafts and sewing applications such as hand-sewn leather goods and making strings of beads and other jewelry. The wax on the thread provides lubrication that can make sewing easier, as the thread is able to pass through dense objects like leather more easily. It should not be used with a sewing machine, however, as the machine can quickly wear off the wax and be damaged by the buildup.

The wax applied to waxed cord can actually affect the color of the thread and make it appear darker. This means that in the long term the thread may seem to lighten, when really it is simply the wax wearing off. Users of waxed thread may want to consider choosing a thread that seems slightly too dark, since as the wax wears off it will become the proper color.

Waxed thread can be purchased or made at home and is typically made using either nylon or polyester since they cling well to the wax. Plain thread can be rubbed against a cube of bee’s wax, coating the thread in the wax. Despite its numerous other uses, this wax should never be used for baking or cooking. Many recipes will call for butcher’s twine to be used to tie up a piece of meat or other item during cooking. If waxed cord or thread is used, however, the wax will melt while heating and can end up on the food.

Waxed thread is often used in jewelry making.
Waxed thread is often used in jewelry making.

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Discussion Comments


@Lostnfound: I have a friend who makes jewelry and she uses a lot of waxed thread. She says it's easier to string beads on waxed thread than it is on to unwaxed. That makes sense to me.

I'm with you on the article having to mention not cooking with waxed thread. Although, if fast food coffee cups have to have "HOT!" on the outside, I guess you have to warn people that wax melts when heated.


It's kind of sad one has to warn people not to used waxed thread to tie up food for cooking. Looks like common sense would prevail, there.

I remember reading in "Farmer Boy" by Laura Ingalls Wilder, how the shoemaker came to Almanzo's boyhood home and used waxed thread to make boots, because it helped make the boots watertight. It's interesting what you can pick up when you read those books.

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