Rope Wax & Oil

Your Complete Guide to Jute Rope Wax & Conditioning Oil

vegan jute rope wax and conditioning oil

You’re likely wondering, “If JBO is carcinogenic, why in the world do they use it?”

1 word: Strength.

Batching oil is essential to processing because it seriously ups-the-strongness. Jute undergoes a process called “carding”, which helps the fibers lay parallel.

The oil is a binder, and applied right before spinning—where the filaments are compressed and twisted, into a single-ply yarn. Additional ply construction occurs afterwards, by counter-twisting single-plies together.

Just like hair, oil content is critical. Too little, and it turns dry and brittle. Too much, and it’s greasy.

Moreover, too much oil can result in weakened strands, owing to slippage. A perfect balance of oil-to-material is required, for maximum cohesion.

It’s important to note, while JBO is carcinogenic, it’s still used in everyday goods. Carpet Backing (CB) is one of these products. The yarn’s spun for weaving with different batching oils, and twisted instead of spun, for winding into rope.

Naturally, this material must not even hint at the smell of JBO, which reeks similar to kerosene. Therefore, it’s extremely important to remove the oder.

jute rope carding machine for processing natural fibers

All The Rope Wax Facts

You (Probably) Never Knew Before Today

Butter is made by blending 2 oils:

*100% cold-pressed jojoba oil

*100% beeswax                        

They’re melted in a pan, thoroughly mixed, and poured into a strong glass to cool.

While almond butter is a cheaper alternative, it’s susceptible to rancidity. For this same reason, coconut oil shouldn’t be used.

Tsubaki oil, however, is acceptable, although expensive.

The oil-to-wax blend determines how the rope feels. Too much oil, and the mix penetrates too deeply causing a heavy, greasy feeling. Too much wax, and the mixture’s sticky, and difficult to work with.

An ideal blend is:

*3 parts oil   
*1 parts wax

Keep in mind, butter should be used sparingly, and is added during the final tumble dry cycle. Us 2-3 gram of butter, per kg of rope.


Don’t aggressively pull at the ropes. Instead, lay the bundle on a vacuum-friendly surface, gently coaxing each rope free.

Hang over a spar, and pull each line to remove any additional loose fibers.

At this point, ropes are ready for singeing the remaining hairs, with a clean blue flame. A typical camp stove works well.

Pass the rope through the flame at about 40-cm-per-second. If you go any slower, you risk damaging the fibers—loose hairs easily ignite.

When processing JBO-treated rope through a flame, it turns a distinctly yellow color, with significantly more black soot. During the next step, you’ll also notice the cloth becomes much dirtier.

Next, wipe the ropes with a rag wet with 100% cold-pressed jojoba oil. Don’t apply too much.

Each rope should be wiped down one time, in both directions, because the rope twists on one side, and untwists on the second-go-around.

Hang the ropes a spar for 24-hours, allowing the oil to soak into the surface.

Rope conditioning is not a one-and-done process. When you sense your ropes drying out and becoming harrier with use, it’s time to recondition them.

Rope Wax 1

No matter your level-of-experience, having a solid grip on jute rope conditioning--specifically rope wax and oil--is a must. While you could just choose any ol’ rope, without rhyme-or-reason, you’re looking disaster right in the face.

Hands-down, no questions asked, the number one thing you need to be aware of with bondage rope is the use of Jute Batching Oil (JBO).


It’s used extensively in jute yarn, thanks to its cheap cost. What makes it an issue is its extreme levels-of-toxicity, with hydrocarbons ranging from C15-C20.

Now, using JBO-dipped rope does not imply you will automatically get skin cancer. It simply means you’re exposed to carcinogenic materials, which could result in cancer.

For comparison, 10-15% of lung carcinoma victims never smoked a day in their life, and many 20+ cigarettes-per-day-smokers never have an issue. In other words, cancer-causing materials only increase the risk of the disease—exposure doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get sick.

pile of jute rope conditionind with rope wax

But, removing the batching oil also damages the rope’s integrity.

As we discussed before, rope oil keeps the material lubricated. Once removed, applying longitudinal tension produces creaking and cracking because of micro tears in the filaments, as they move and break from the missing oil.

That being said, there are ways to reduce JBO, without removing its beneficial properties all-together.

The easiest and most popular is to expose the rope to sunlight, or more specifically, ultraviolet (UV) rays. Owing to jute’s photosensitivity post-harvest, the middle labella undergoes photochemical changes, which reduce cohesion between cells within filaments.

Beware: Excessive heat weakens jute rope, so please be cognizant of any heat sources.

When it comes to jute rope oil, however, it’s important to understand JBO is absolutely not the only conditioning oil available.

Vegetable Oil Treated (VOT) ropes are a common substitute. Unfortunately, though, they add significant levels of complexity.

Common oils include:

  • Palm oil (often from unsustainable sources)
  • Castor oil
  • Soybean oil mixtures

Stay far away from these other oils, too. They’re well-known for turning rancid, which ruins your jute rope and snaps your olfactory bulb into chaos, with horrible smells.

This can be done in a variety of ways:

  • Soaking
  • Boiling
  • Steaming
  • Baking

To identify the type of rope oil used, gas chromatography-mass-spectroscopy analysis is your best bet.

In order to mitigate this, it’s critical soybean seeds are thoroughly cleaned and dried, prior to cold- or expeller-pressing. During this stage of the extraction process, heat encourages oxidants.

Expeller-pressed soybean oil retains more phytsterols and tocopherols, thus providing natural antioxidants, which prevent rancidity.

Of the many conditioning methods, Tumble drying is the gentlest, and prevents loss of batching oil and coating. Moreover, it removes loose hairs, smoothing the rope significantly.

Adding in a “rope butter” during a tumble dry session, the rope’s exterior is coated and softened, with a human-safe conditioning. The best temperature setting, is warm enough to melt and blend the butter, but not so warm it extracts the batching oil.

In other words, it shouldn’t be hot.

Prior to tumble drying, however, the rope ends must be secured, in order to prevent unraveling.

One of the best methods is to unwind about 5cm (~2") of rope, make a simple overhand knot, then tighten and roll it towards the end of the rope.

The knot compresses better because the strands are separated. Don’t put the rope in a bag, as this prevents loose fiber from escaping.

During the drying process, fibers come loose and clog the lint trap. Always remember to clean it between cycles.

Three 30-minute tumble dry cycles removes the bulk of loose fiber.

After this drying cycle finishes, the ropes are tangled and covered in loose fibers. So, try to avoid dark clothing, during this timeframe.

Vegan Rope Wax 2

Occasionally repeating the singeing and jojoba oil application seriously increases the lifespan of your ropes.

In order to truly understand your rope, it’s important to know how to avoid breaking it. So here are some things to keep in mind:

Tensioning rope across sharp and/or small diameter objects increases the chase of breaking filaments.

In other words, don’t break in your rope, by aggressively rubbing it against a hard surface to remove hairs.

This breaks filaments, and seriously compromises the strength of the rope.

Follow the aforementioned conditioning process, and you’l have the softest rope you’ve ever played with.

Of course, that process works for any rope on the market, but does focus on jute rope.

When rope leaves spinning machinery, it’s coated to reduce hairiness. Many industrial and commercial yarn is coated in PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol), a colorless, odorless, water-soluble polymer, typically found in paper making. It produces a starch-y, stiff feeling.

Get Your Hands on the Nitty Gritty Details of AmatsunawaUSA's Jute Rope Wax & Bondage Gear

At AmatsunawaUSA our yarn is coated with tapioca starch from cassava root, which means our jute rope is 100% food grade, recyclable, and sustainable.

As we’ve previously discussed, high quality rope is light and easy to handle—and it doesn’t produce skin issues.

It should always be strong enough for its intended purpose, and never leave behind a trail of dust filled with short-filament fiber.

That being said, jute will always shed a bit—it’s in its nature. Batching oil reduces this loss, and Amatsunawa USA never uses anything harmful to humans.

Take the leap and start your new non-toxic S&M gear collection off-on-the-right-foot. Shoot us a line today, and we'll get back to you ASAP!


Jute dermatitis, Curjel & Acton 1924
Dermatoses in jute workers, Kinnear, Rogers, Finn & Mair 1955
Cancer hazard from mineral oil used in the processing of jute, Roe, Carter & Taylor 1967
Occupational skin hazards of mineral oils, Bhar 1972
Certain PAHs and heterocyclic compounds. In: Monograph on the evaluation of carcinogenic risk of chemicals to man, International Agency for Research on Cancer 1973
Evaluation of carcinogenic effect of mineral oil used in the processing of jute fibres, Mehrotra & Saxena 1979
Induction of benzo[a]pyrene hydroxylase in skin and liver by cutaneous application of jute batching oil, Kumar, Antony & Mehrotra 1982
The evaluation of carcinogenic of certain petroleum hydrocarbon fractions, Suskind, Stemmer & Barkley 1983
Carcinogenicity of petroleum lubricating oil distillates, Halder, Warne, Little & Garvin 1984
Quantification of tumour initiating effect of jute batching oil and its distillates over mouse skin, Agarwal, Kumar, Shukla, Antony & Mehrotra 1985
Polyaromatic Hydrocarbon Profile of a Mineral Oil (JBO–P) by Gas Chromatography, Agarwal, Kumar & Mehrotra 1986
Jute batching oil: a tumor promoter on mouse skin, Mehrotra, Kumar, Agarwal & Antony 1987
Evaluation of carcinogenic effect of jute batching oil (JBO–P) fractions following topical application to mouse skin, Agarwal, Shukla, Kumar & Mehrotra 1988
Carcinogenic Property of JBO(P) Variety of Jute Batching Oil, Mehrotra, Kumar & Antony 1988
Role of GSSG–reductase and a thiol oxidant diethylmaleate (DEM) in skin tumorigenesis induced by jute batching oil, Antony, Kumar & Mehrotra 1989
Handbook of Fiber Chemistry, Second Edition, Revised and Expanded (International Fiber Science and Technology), Lewin & Pearce 1998
On the Mechanical Properties and Uncertainties of Jute Yarns, Ullah, Shahinur & Haniu 2017