The air is crisp, your skis are on and you’re breezing up the lift with your favorite ski bum. You can’t wait to tell them about how your latest hot wax changed your life. “And the best part is, I can do it myself now! It saves time and hassle and the results are so smooth!”
Sound appealing? Learning to wax skis can give you an edge on the slopes.
Waxing your skis protects from kinetic, wet, dirt, and static friction. The wax stays in the small pores of your ski bases. This helps them work well in any condition.
Keep reading to find out how to wax your skis.
Types of Wax
It’s time to channel Sheldon Cooper because things are going to get scientific. Ski and snowboard waxes are made of compounds and elements. Each works in a different way which is why racing wax is different from everyday wax.
As the name implies, hydrocarbon wax is made from the hydrocarbons paraffin and microcrystalline. They’re also made from other synthetic wax materials.
Together, these materials create the perfect, everyday ski trifecta. Synthetic wax materials are the muscle of the operation, making wax stronger.
Paraffins are the soft and gentle element of your ski wax trio. They create that breezy glide you crave on fresh powder or just-groomed slopes. If you’ve ever had a paraffin treatment with your manicure, you know how amazing this stuff is.
Finally, the muscle. Microcrystalline gives hydrocarbon wax what it needs to last you all night long.
Florine repels water. Fluorocarbons have all their hydrogen atoms replaced with fluorine. Skis glide better in wet conditions when they’re not attracting extra moisture.
Moly (short for molybdenum) is similar to graphite but better. The Moly element (which is also a great name for your next band), keeps your skis from getting too dirty in wet and sticky snow.
Moly prevents electrostatic energy from slowing you down in dry snow conditions. Most people agree Moly is better than graphite and usually use it to get better speed on their skis.
Ready to swap out that scientist hat for a do-it-yourselfer hat? Before you do, you’ll need the right tools. Here are three essentials you need for waxing skis at home.
An Iron Will
You’ll also need an actual iron. If you’re keeping things thrifty you can use any old iron. Just make sure it’s designated for your skis.
Sharing ski irons with clothes irons may end with you needing a new wardrobe. Thus, defeating the purpose of saving some cash with the cheap iron.
If you’re willing to spring for it, you can find designated ski waxing irons. Swix makes a popular iron that retails for around $45-$50.
A Scrapier Whit
Or just a scraper. These are usually plastic or stainless steel. They’re easy to find at any ski shop and cost $10-$15 on average.
A Brush of Class
And a ski brush. Serious shredders have a collection of brushes with bristles made from horsehair or even metal. If you’re an everyday ski bum who enjoys the simpler tools, you can get a nylon-bristled brush.
Nylon ski brushes retail for about $20.
A Band Made of Rubber
You’ll need a few rubber bands to hold your skis in the right position. Make sure they’re strong enough to hold your skis locked. It might be a good idea to keep a few extra nearby just in case.
A Few Clamps
You need a straight, elevated surface to hold your skis in place while you work on them. Vice clamps like pros use cost around $150. If you decide to make something similar with the tools you have, just be sure it’s a flat, elevated surface that won’t scratch your skis.
Since you can work on one ski at a time, you probably only need three vices.
A Block Wax
Most DIYers will use a block of ski wax. You can also buy liquid wax that uses a rag for application. Ski wax is pretty easy to find online or at a ski shop.
You can spend as little as $10 or as much as $110 on a block of ski wax. Just make sure you’re buying from a legitimate retailer.
A Stone or Pad
A hard gummi stone or scotch pad will get all the sharp/scratchy things off your skis before you start work on them. A hard gummi stone will set you back around $10.00.
Some base prep will help get the old greasy grime off your skis before you wax them. Some recommend using any mild citrus-based cleaner. Be careful, too much or the wrong kind of base prep can permanently damage your skis!
Location, Location, Location
Prepping your wax area is an important step in the wax-at-home process. Follow these space prep tips before you dive it.
- Always wax in a comfortable temperature. Waxing in a cold garage or outside will result in poorly waxed skis.
- Make sure you have plenty of space for skis and tools.
- Get a drop cloth because you’re about to make a big mess.
- Get all your tools ready before you start so you don’t have to run around finding things mid-process.
You need a good sturdy table or surface for your work. If you don’t want to drop $150 to buy one, you can build a ski waxing bench for less than $15.
Once you have everything set up, it’s time to wax skis (one at a time, of course).
Loop a rubber band around one brake, the binding, and the other brake. This will lock them in place and out of your way.
Take your gummi stone or Scotch Brite pad and run it along the bottom of your skis. Without damaging the surface, make sure there’s nothing sharp sticking out. Anything sharp could cut your finger or damage your tools.
Try to avoid using your finger to test for smoothness. This could result in extra steps requiring medical attention to said finger.
Your edges and bases should all be in pretty good shape. Lay a ruler over them to see if there are any big differences in height. If you see bigger issues with the edges and bases of your skis, it’s best to let a pro shop handle those before you go to work on them.
4. Base Prep
Now you need to prep the ski bases. Apply a small amount of base prep to a clean cloth or rag. Wipe the cleaner up and down, covering the entire ski base.
Don’t overdo it, though. Too much can cause irreversible damage.
5. Wax On
Now it’s time for the main event. Heat your iron to the temp stated on the wax. Once your iron is ready, take the wax block and hold it up to the hot iron over your ski base. You should have a small drip stream drizzling onto the ski.
Continue drizzling up and down the ski (most people work from tip to tail). Now go back and iron the wax on, covering the entire base surface. Make sure your iron is always moving. Stopping or pausing can cause burns to your skis!
6. Let It Dry
The wax should dry for at least 30 minutes. If you don’t have 30 minutes to wait, don’t start the process. Trying to dry your skis by setting them outside or other short-cut methods can cause damage.
7. Scrape It
Now you get to use that handy dandy scraper tool. Make sure it’s sharp first. As smoothly as possible, scrape the dry wax off your ski base. Get it all off but don’t be too aggressive about it.
8. Brush, Brush, Brush
First, bust out your brush and go to town. Start at the tip and end at the tail. Remember your muscles because this process can take up to 20 minutes.
Brush until there’s no more wax flying off the ski. Next, grab your Scotch Brite pad (or a finer ski brush) and repeat the process.
When it’s all said and done, you should be able to see your reflection on the newly waxed base. After all that scraping and brushing, you might want to freshen up a bit before you hit the slopes.
Wax Skis, Save Time
If you enjoy the great outdoors in winter, you don’t want to spend your precious vacation time in a ski shop. Learning how to wax skis at home can save you precious so you can get straight to the slopes.
Now that your skis are ready to go, you should be, too! Whistler Retreats has everything you need to enjoy your next ski-cation. We have one, two, and three-bedroom condos.
See what’s available in Creekside, Upper Village, or Village North today!