How to Wax Skis
Waxing the bases of your skis is essential for maintaining their ability to glide well. To do this you’ll need to round up some equipment and prepare a suitable place but other than that it’s a simple process whether it’s for alpine skis (for WOMEN | for MEN), touring skis (for WOMEN | for MEN) or even a snowboard (for WOMEN | for MEN).
Learn how to wax nordic skis in this article.
Waxing equipment: the essentials
To wax your alpine skis and touring skis you’ll need the following equipment:
- Ski vises mounted on a stable workbench
- A waxing iron
- A plexiglass wax scraper
- A brush with brass or boar bristles
- A bar of universal wax
Count on spending a little more than €100 for a pair of quality ski vises. You should also be able to find waxing kits with an iron, a plexiglass scraper, one or two brushes and a bar of universal wax for around €100. Considering a hot wax at a ski shop costs around €15 and a full service will cost anywhere from €35 to €40, your waxing equipment will pay for itself in just a few seasons.
Other accessories like a nylon brush or a rotary brush that attaches to a drill will give you a perfect finish and save you time.
If you want to be able to do a full service on your skis, you’ll need to add a few more tools for sharpening the edges of your skis.
Follow these steps to wax your own skis
Time required: around 30 minutes for one pair of skis.
Waxing and scraping your skis can get pretty messy so find a suitable space to set everything up like a workshop, garage or outside in a place that’s sheltered from the wind and easy to clean up.
1. Cleaning the bases of your skis
Start off by brushing the base in the same direction it slides (from the tip to the tail) using a brass or boar bristle brush.
If the bases are really dirty, use a liquid wax remover and a clean cloth to remove as much dirt as possible before starting with the brush.
2. Applying wax to the iron
Set your iron to the temperature indicated on your bar of wax. The temperature for universal wax is usually around 212˚F (100˚C).
When your iron is hot, place the bar of wax against it so that melted wax drips onto the base of the ski.
Then pass the iron directly over the base of your ski to spread the wax evenly. Don’t leave the iron in one place for too long or it will damage your ski (for WOMEN | for MEN).
3. Scraping and brushing the base
Wait about 10 minutes for the wax to cool and harden.
Scrape off the wax using a plexiglass scraper (don’t use metal) always in the same direction the ski slides. Apply pressure with your thumbs. Keep at it until all the wax is scraped off.
Be sure to remove any wax that has dripped onto the edges and sidewalls of your skis. Some scrapers have a small notch in them made especially for this.
Finally, brush the base of the ski with a brass or boar bristle brush to remove any remaining wax. For a perfect finish you can brush a second time with a nylon brush, always in the same direction the ski slides.
More about choosing the right wax
For recreational skiers a universal wax will work fine in most conditions. Choose a biodegradable wax to limit snow pollution.
If you want better glide you can choose wax that’s designed for a specific snow temperature. These waxes come in corresponding colors:
- Green wax: very cold snow between 10˚F and -47˚F (-12°C and -32°C)
- Blue wax: cold snow between 21˚F and 10˚F (-6°C et -12°C)
- Purple wax: snow between 28˚F and 18˚F (-2°C et -8°C)
- Red wax: snow between 34˚F and 25˚F (+1°C et -4°C). Most commonly used.
- Yellow wax: wet snow above 32˚F (0˚C), for spring skiing
There are also different grades of wax, the fluorine content of which is directly associated to performance and price:
- CH Hydrocarbon: fluoro free, good value wax for recreational skiers
- LF Low Fluoro: wax contains some fluoro for improved performance
- HF High Fluoro: race wax for alpine and nordic skiing
Waxing your skis before storing them at the end of the season
When it’s finally time to store your skis for the season (and bring out your running shoes!), it is important to protect your bases with one last wax.
Clean the bases and apply a layer of universal (or cold snow) wax without scraping it. This layer of wax will protect and nourish the bases of your skis throughout the summer. When the next winter hits all you’ll need to do is scrape your skis and you’ll be ready to go.
If you don’t have time to hot wax your skis there are also liquid waxes available that you apply directly to the base of the ski using a clean cloth. This is really just a short-term solution for those times when you need a quick fix. These liquid waxes also have a tendency to dry out your bases. Nothing beats a good hot wax!