Skiing is a lot of fun and can be a great way to enjoy the winter months, but if you don’t wax your skis properly, you won’t get to make the most of your skis.
The thing is, and I was surprised to learn about this the first time I looked into skiing, there are different types of ski wax to choose from.
It can actually be confusing to know which wax will be best for you. Also, the application of the wax depends on the chemicals in the wax.
Yes, skiing is fun, but to really enjoy it, you need to wax your skis. Let’s take a deep dive into the types of wax and everything related.
Purpose of Waxing
You may wonder why it’s necessary to wax your skis – why can’t you just get on your skis and start zooming around?
Well, first of all, a good wax ensures that there is less friction between the snow and your gear. And when there is less friction, you get more speed. Also, you’ll get to enjoy a much smoother ride as you maneuver turns.
Secondly, wax helps to protect your skis (or snowboard) from drying out. When skis get too dry, they can start to shrink, and you really don’t want that.
And thirdly, wax keeps your skis looking good by protecting them against scratches and damage.
Various Styles of Wax
Ski wax is available in different styles that are used in different conditions. Let’s check out the most common forms you’ll find ski wax in:
1. Block Ski Wax
You won’t find it hard to get your hands on block wax. This type of wax needs to be melted on the ski base and lasts the longest of all the styles. Before you can do that, though, you need to heat the wax with an iron.
Then, you iron the wax into the pores of the bases. You have to make sure you apply the wax evenly — that way, you’ll be able to glide much faster.
It’s also important to note that you have to melt the wax at the appropriate temperatures to ensure you don’t burn off the chemicals that add awesome gliding properties to your skis. If it’s cooled too much, you’ll have to scrape it off, or you’ll have sticky skis.
2. Liquid Wax
You have two options when it comes to liquid wax: very basic, or high-end. You have to apply liquid wax to a cloth (unless it comes with an applicator) and then rub it onto the bases of your skis.
High-end waxes are used along with other wax styles to give you really fast skis. This is referred to as an overlay. In most cases, the longer you rub the wax into the bases, the longer it will last.
Basic liquid wax is more of a quick fix and is only a short-term solution that will last about half a day.
3. Paste Wax
Paste wax is very easy to apply and is considered the most economical option. You should be able to find paste wax in a universal temperature range.
To apply paste wax, you use a small fabric applicator and then rub it into the base of the skis. The longer you buff, the longer the wax will stay on your skis.
4. Powder Wax
Powder wax should be used after you’ve applied a few layers of block wax. Doing so will increase the speed you can achieve on your skis.
Note that powder waxes tend to be a bit more expensive because they contain a high amount of Fluorocarbons.
5. Spray Wax
Typically, you’ll use spray wax on top of several layers of high-end block wax. This will give your skis great gliding properties. Once you’ve sprayed on the wax, let it sit and be absorbed for about five minutes, and then use a cork to rub it in.
6. Graphite Wax
This kind of wax isn’t used by itself, but rather along with standard hydro carbon wax or fluorocarbon wax. On its own, graphite wax doesn’t do much for your skis. But when used with other wax, it can help reduce static friction that can be common in dirty or old snow.
7. Base Prep Wax
This kind of wax is very absorbent and noticeably soft. It can soak deep into your base and help prolong the life of your skis.
After you’ve applied your base prep wax, you should scrape off a few layers and apply another wax of your choice. You don’t necessarily need to apply base prep wax, but it will make your skis last longer.
Hint: Layer Waxes
When it comes to ski wax, you can mix and match waxes for the effect you want. It is highly recommended that you experiment with the different types of waxes to find what works best for your skiing adventures.
The wax composition is the chemicals or additives that are in the wax, and this is what makes it suitable for different humidity levels, weather conditions, and snow conditions.
The composition of ski wax refers to the different chemicals or additives for different snow conditions, humidity levels, and weather conditions.
Here are the different compositions:
When ski wax has a high amount of Fluorocarbons, it will be a lot more expensive than other options. Fluorocarbons can give you much stronger gliding properties because they repel water. It is especially useful in wet snow conditions and areas with high humidity.
You can apply wax that contains lots of Fluorocarbon by crayoning it onto your skis and then melting it into them with an iron. You’ll find these wax compositions available in all temperature ranges.
This composition means there are no Fluorocarbons in the wax and that means it is much more affordable. But they’re not cheap replacements. This composition makes the wax highly durable. The wax layers you apply won’t wear off quickly.
Also, a hydro carbon composition means the skis will be protected because these wax options can repel dirty snow conditions quite effectively. You can use these waxes on their own in colder conditions or as a prep base for high-end wax.
As you might guess, a low Fluorocarbon composition means the wax contains fewer Fluorocarbons. Despite not being as packed with Fluorocarbon as the more expensive compositions, these waxes still contain more than hydro carbon waxes do.
You’ll find this composition in all temperature ranges and it is the preferred type used by many ski lovers because of the value you get at an affordable price.
This composition provides your skis with very high resistance to oils and dirt and is long-lasting. It is also going to make your skis faster. You can find this wax composition in block, powder, and liquid form; the liquid form is the most popular choice.
To apply, you spray on wax with this composition before you use cork to buff it into the base of your skis. After that, you have to brush the skis with a horsehair brush. To make the most of the properties of this wax composition, use it as the last step after several other wax applications.
Soy-based ski wax will give you fantastic water repellency and strong gliding properties. A soy-based wax is also biodegradable and is easy to apply.
Ski Waxing Tools You’ll Need
There are several tools you will have to get when you’re going to apply wax regularly. First off, you’ll need a scraper for when you need to remove excess wax.
If you don’t remove extra wax, you can’t expect to get good gliding from your skis. You have to keep your scraper clean and sharp.
You should invest in several wax brushes, a waxing iron, a waxing table, and vice. These tools will make your waxing experience easier, more effective, and even more fun.
Temperature-specific waxes are about the temperature of the air, not the snow. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t use the right temperature wax for your skis — there won’t be any damage done. However, you will suffer a big performance loss.
You’ll find this type of wax in the following ranges:
- 10°F|25°F — -12°C|-4°C
- 19°F|28°F — -7°C|-2°C
- 25°F|39°F — 4°C|-4°C
- 36°F|50°F — 10°C|2°C
These waxes are not temperature-specific and are a general kind of wax that will be able to give you a decent glide while protecting your base. You should use this kind of wax when you suspect the weather is going to be chaotic, or change during the day while you ski.
Factors That Affect Wax Selection
There are several motivators for the kind of wax you want to use. Here’s a quick look at the most important factors:
The air temperature is usually the starting point of making your choice. Most people will be using their skis during the morning or afternoon, so they need to use a wax that is appropriate for the temperature. If you’re racing professionally, you’ll typically choose wax for the coldest temperatures.
The humidity of where you’re skiing will also affect the type of wax you choose. High fluorocarbon wax is typically the best option for high humidity.
Keep in mind that if the air is dry, the skiing conditions will be drier because moisture in the snow is decreased. You’ll have to brush your wax properly if you’re in a windy area.
You’ll wax warmer and brush thoroughly if you are going to be skiing in a very sunny area or on a sunny day.