How to wax Nordic skis
To keep your skis in good condition you will need to wax them. The more regularly you wax them, the better they will glide. Waxing cross-country skis may seem technical and expensive. This is true if you practice cross-country skiing at a highly competitive level but waxing for upkeep can also be done in a quick and easy way. Follow our advice on waxing your skate skis and classic cross-country skis so you keep them gliding!
Waxing equipment for cross-country skis
To take care of your skis, you will need this basic equipment:
- Waxing iron
- Pencil groove scraper
- Plexiglass scraper
- A block of glide wax
There are complete kits available that include all the equipment needed for around one hundred euros.
You could also add a waxing table to your equipment to keep your skis flat.
Waxing irons are for melting and applying the wax to the ski base. You can regulate the temperature of the iron to adapt to different waxes.
Pencil groove scraper
A pencil groove scraper is for removing the wax from grooves in the ski base.
You should use a plexiglass, non-metal scraper to scrape the wax off your ski base once it has cooled down.
Brushing your ski base with a brass or a boar hair brush allows you to clean the ski base before waxing. It can also be used to remove any remaining wax after scraping the base.
A second brush made from nylon can be used to finish the process to polish up the ski base.
A block of glide wax
Initially, you can use a harder, universal wax on your skis as this can be used for all types of snow.
To achieve a better glide, you should take the temperature of the snow and its moisture content into account. .
Steps for waxing your skate skis
Waxing your skate skis can be carried out in 3 steps:
- Clean the ski base with a brush
- Apply the wax using a waxing iron
- Scrape and brush the ski base
1. Cleaning the ski base
The first step is to clean the ski base using a brass or boar hair brush, you should brush in one direction, from the tip to the tail. This is an essential step as it properly prepares the ski base for waxing.
If you have skied on dirty snow, you can use a solvent (liquid) base cleaner. Applied using a cloth it will remove the dirt before brushing.
2. Applying wax
You can regulate the temperature of your waxing iron so that it corresponds with the recommended temperature of your wax. Generally, the temperature for universal wax is 100°C. Remember that the harder the wax is (for cold snow conditions) the longer you will have to heat it.
Once your waxing iron is hot, place the block of glide wax onto the iron until it drips onto the ski base. Two lines of wax, one each side of the groove should be enough.
A more economical way of waxing is to rub the glide wax directly onto the ski base (like a crayon) and then apply the waxing iron.
Next you need to put the iron directly onto the ski base to spread the wax evenly. Don't leave the iron in the same place for too long as the ski base could get extremely hot.
3. Brushing and scraping the ski base
Allow the wax to cool down and harden onto the ski base at room temperature, for at least 10 minutes.
First, scrape the groove with the pencil groove scraper.
Next, scrape the excess wax off your ski base with a plexiglass scraper, pushing in a downwards motion from tip to tail. Don't push too hard as you may damage the ski if the scraper slips off. Keep going until most of the wax has been scraped off.
Lastly, brush your ski base with a brass or boar hair brush from tip to tail to remove any excess wax.
You could use a nylon brush at the final stage to give your ski base a fast and shiny finish.
Waxing your classic cross-country skis
There are two gliding zones on the ski base of your classic cross-country skis, one at the tip of the ski and the other at the tail. The grip zone, also called kick zone, is found in the middle of the ski, underneath your foot.
Glide waxing your classic cross-country skis
To wax the glide zone, you need to follow the same steps as for skate skis, but don't apply wax to the grip zone:
- Clean the ski base by brushing it
- Apply the wax and iron on the two glide zones
- Let the wax cool down for at least 10 minutes
- Scrape the groove then the ski base to remove any excess wax
- Brush again to get a better finish
For skin skis, there is a specific wax to apply to the skins that combine glide and grip.
Grip waxing your classic cross-country skis
Only waxable classic cross-country skis should be waxed at the grip zone (underneath your foot). Fishscale or skin skis don't need any grip wax.
Grip wax on classic cross-country skis is all about a compromise between grip and glide. Applying this kind of wax is quite technical and needs to be done properly.
When considering the snow conditions, there are 2 types of grip wax:
- Hard wax: you apply this wax directly onto the grip zone. It's mainly for recent, cold snow.
- Klister wax: this is a sticky gel that generally comes in a tube. This wax is especially for wet or old snow.
Each wax type is available for a range of temperatures. You should be guided by your own experience!
Improving your glide using wax
Do you want to fine-tune your waxing technique for a better performance? First of all, you can choose your wax considering snow temperature and structure.
There are also 5 types of water-resistant treatments for your glide wax. These treatments are directly linked to the performance level of the wax... and the cost:
- CH for Hydrocarbon: economical general upkeep wax, without fluorine. Allow for around 9€ for a block of 60 grams.
- LF for Low Fluorinated (Fluoro): universal wax for improving your glide as it contains fluorine. It's about 15€ for 60 grams.
- HF for High Fluorinated (Fluoro): the most popular competition wax with high levels of fluorine. It's double the price of LF wax.
- Pure Fluor Powder: this wax comes in powder form, and is the best glide wax around. It's also the most expensive and applying it is very technical. It should only be used for racing. At 130€ for a small bottle, the cost becomes prohibitive!
- Top coat finishing waxes: these liquid or solid blocks can be used along with a pure fluor powder, to boost your glide over the first kilometers of a race.
Waxing your cross-country skis is actually easy and can be done throughout the season. Skiers who aim for performance can spend more time on waxing (and money) but in any case, you shouldn’t wait until your ski base turns white to get your waxing iron out!