Toilet bowl wax

On an orchard I visit from time to time I noticed this deep color waxy substance on tree injuries and on the tip of pruned branches. I finally asked the orchardist and he said it was toilet bowl wax.

The consistency is pretty fantastic, easy to smear, formulated to be water proof and it actually stays in place for a long time. Does anybody uses this stuff? Is there anything there that would be bad for the tree?

I think there are a bunch of folks on here who use it or at least used to. Lots of good info in some of the grafting threads.

I think quite a few people use Johnny Wax. I touch up grafts a little bit with it if I’m concerned about the parafilm not covering completely. I’m not sure it isn’t a little hard on the bark sometimes, but I don’t know. I don’t smear it around very heavily - just a dab here and there for insurance.

I kinda don’t like using it because it’s so sticky it gums up everything it touches. I use a popsicle stick to dab mine on, and the stick gets messy. Hard to get off your fingers, too. But like you say, it stays in place a long time.

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I’m wondering if it leads to issues with callusing/healing .

I’ve been melting it and adding half beeswax for sealing cuttings or scions I don’t want to dry out. The toilet wax adds a lot of flexibility so the beeswax isn’t so brittle. I’ve tried it by itself, but it’s too messy.

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I’m glad you asked this. As others have said, there are lots of people here who have used toilet bowl wax and seemed to be satisfied with it. I used it for 2 years and have come to feel very, very certain that it is a terrible thing to use and should be avoided. I can’t explain how other people have had success unless maybe there are different formulas for toilet bowl wax and the one I was using was particularly bad. I only used the cheapest one that Lowes sold, fyi.

THe problem I found, and it took a couple years for me to really understand it, was that after a few months it would start to soften and even dissolve the bark that it was on. I feel like the one I used had petroleum in it but that’s just a guess. Sometimes I would smear it all up and down a 4-8 inch scion wood I was grafting onto an existing rootstock/tree.to keep it from drying out - similar to how a lot of people dip their wood into “real” wax. after a lot of time (months) even if the graft took, the bark under the bowl wax would start to bubble up, and if you just rubbed it with a finger tip the bark would come off. Even if I used the toilet bowl wax just to cover the site of the graft, it would do the same damage.

Obviously once the toilet bowl wax ruined the bark on either the scion or the rootstock or both, it died from the location of the wax out to the tip. I’m the only one I’ve seen talk about this problem, but I saw it many, many times in 2 different years on all kinds of fruit, so I’m very certain in what I’m telling you even though others haven’t experienced it (or haven’t said so). That’s why it almost has to be that some brands/sources have different ingredients. I don’t know about that, but I know I won’t use it any more. If anyone else has seen this, I’d like to hear about it. Thanks

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I’m glad you pitched in.

My guess is that it is petroleum based waxes with petroleum based emulsifiers. the smell did not seem to suggest even an iota of beeswax.

I have some beeswax, I’ll see if I can melt some with mineral oil (same stuff used as baby oil) so I can hit the right room temperature consistency. It may be just as bad but I guess there is only one way to find out :slight_smile:

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I agree, Don. My own guess about it being petroleum is based on the smell, and also on the reaction I’ve observed with the bark. I’ve seen that same reaction with some other things I experimented with that I know had petroleum in it. This sounds funny but one thing I tried was that spray-on plastic stuff. (similar to “flex seal” but different brand. Its not quite as crazy as it sounds…I could envision that stuff making a great way to seal grafts and entire sticks of scion wood by spraying it on. But in reality you could just smell and even feel the petroleum so it is far from compatible with live wood. But hey, you don’t know until you try! But it dissolved bark in the same way my toilet bowl wax did.

Its a shame my toilet bowl was didn’t work, because as the OP mentioned, it had the perfect consistency to work with, it stays on forever, its waterproof and pliable, and so on. But since trees kind of need bark (ha), its a no-go for me- at least the formulation I used was.

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My experience was similar to @thecityman and I won’t be using it again.

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Recently I had a chat with one nursery man and asked him what they use for bark healing. He said they are using pva paint (outdoor purpose) mixed with Topsin M fungicide. Unfortunately he did not want to tell me what proportion of each must be added.