Kayak And Canoe Oil Canning Guide


You may want to opt for a brand-new kayak, or simply buy a used one.  One of the most useful concepts to learn is kayak oil canning as it applies when planning to repair and fix your plastic kayak.

However even before you can go on to fixing your plastic kayak, you will need to understand what oil canning in kayaking is in the first place.

This kayak and canoe oil canning guide will tell you everything you need to know.

Understanding oil canning

Oil canning is a term used to refer to the denting that can happen on the hull of the canoe or kayak as a result of being tied too tightly on the car kayak roof rack or being stored away on the floor on its hull when not in use.

These dents can be quite annoying as they have tended to pop in and out when on the water or when under pressure. The dents, let’s face it make an otherwise great-looking kayak or canoe seem less pleasing to the eye.

Sometimes they may be caused by more than just storing or carrying improperly. If you use a white-water kayak then you will understand the feeling when you hit a rock way too hard and realize right there that your kayak has acquired a dent.

But these are not the only instances it can happen. Oil canning can occur due to dragging the kayak on the ground. It is easy to notice the large dent that forms on the lower side of the kayak or canoe which causes the hull to curve inwards and in turn results in it being out of line with the rest of the kayak.

This dent will usually happen where there is the most pressure on the kayak or canoe. An example is where the kayak or canoe was resting on top of the car roof rack.

Depending on the design of the plastic canoes or kayaks, you may find the bottom being thinner than the sides which makes it weaker and prone to bending.

Denting of the hull is more common in older canoes and kayaks. However, it can still happen in newer models. These indentations will affect the performance of the vessels more often creating drag and causing you to use more energy to paddle. It’s thus crucial to learn the detailed kayak care and maintenance guide.

Oil canning canoe can affect the speed of your canoe. It can also negatively affect the tracking. That said some people may not notice the effect of oil canning on their boats depending on the method of paddling that they use.

Is it preventable?

Something to always keep in mind is that oil-canning may not be preventable in all situations. However, you can do something to make sure that it is less likely to occur.

First of all, when taking the kayak or canoe to and from the water, always ensure that you know how to carry a kayak the right way and that you do not drag it on the ground. Lift the entire canoe or kayak off the ground and if it’s too heavy you can always ask someone to help you carry it.

Also, ensure that you observe proper storage techniques when not using your kayak. Do not store the kayak with the hull on the ground. The best storage solution is to use kayak storage racks and hoists. Place the kayak either on the side or upside down.

How to fix oil canning


To fix oil canning, there are several essential things that you are going to require. One is to choose a hot summer day with plenty of sunshine. Next, you will need hot water, a hairdryer, and some much-needed patience! Let’s start.

1. Take your canoe or kayak and flip it upside down

The first and very obvious step is to take your canoe or kayak and turn it upside down. Only then will you be in a position to seal the indentations and all the oil caning canoe areas.

2. Make use of the sun

Even with the many design principles of kayaks, many people may not know that the sun’s heat can fix the kayak oil caning problem. All you have to do is leave it sitting upside down facing the direct sun for a while. After spending up to two hours in the sun, the hull will soften.

3. Let the dents pop

Having softened the hull, you may begin to notice the hull simply rising. The dents are going to soften and pop out of themselves which will bring the kayak or canoe back to its original state.

Sometimes the day may not experience a lot of sunshine and in this case, you may have to leave the yak or canoe out for several hours.

4. Push the dents out yourself

Sometimes especially on days that are not very hot, the dents may not pop up by themselves. The good thing is that the sun should have warmed the hull just enough to easily use your hands.

Simply push up from under the hull and you should be all set.

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What are you to do if you live in colder climates, and you are wondering if snow kayaking is possible, and the next hope of a decent sunlit day is months away? Well, a hairdryer can come in handy. Pick a spot where an oil canning canoe has occurred and use the hairdryer to warm the area.

You should take care not to heat the spot so much that the plastic begins to melt. Hold the hairdryer a distance away so as not to end up having more problems than you started with.

6. Pushing up the dent

After you are convinced that the plastic has softened, push up the hull from below with your hands. Sometimes you may not need to do this and the hairdryer can cause the oil canned area to pop up all by itself.

7. Using hot water

This step will require you to put the canoe or kayak in its upright position. Then take hot water and pour it inside the cockpit.

The benefit is twofold. One is that the hot water will cause the hull to soften while the pressure from the water pushes it out to its original shape.

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Now that you understand what kayak oil canning is, it should be simple to fix the indentations on the hull. Any of the above methods is simple and works easily. All you need to make sure that everything goes according to plan is to have a little patience.

When using the hairdryer for example you may be tempted to use too much heat and end up causing more problems if you don’t have the patience.

More Skills Guides:


  1. How to do DIY oil canning