Chapter 8: Waxing

How often should you wax? A good rule of thumb: if the bases are white, it's time to wax. I wax every three or four days of skiing, depending on snow conditions. Cold hard snow and ice put more wear on the base than warmer snow and requires more frequent waxing.

a. Choose a wax. If you don’t care, go with an all purpose universal wax, or a “warm” or “cold” temp universal wax. Choosing a wax is simple – if it's April and 50 degrees out, go with a warm wax. If it’s January in New England, go with a colder wax.

b. The ski should be secured so that the base is facing up. The brakes should be pulled back sufficiently far so that they will not obstruct the iron. The ski should be room temperature and dry. Not a good idea to wax a cold ski.

Make sure the base is free of any debris left over from working on the edges. Begin by brushing the ski a few times as described in Step 3 of Part 1. Brushing before waxing opens the structure of the ski so that the ski will better absorb the wax.

d. Now that the ski is clean, you can begin waxing. Get the iron just hot enough to melt the wax. Each wax has a different melting point, and you want to avoid over heating or burning the wax.

To avoid burning the base, I usually “crayon” the wax onto the ski before I begin melting it on. This is a pretty simple process and works just like it sounds. The idea is that a thin coat of wax is already covering every inch of the base before an iron ever touches it. It also serves as a way to conserve wax.

Hold the wax up to the iron, and allow the wax to drip onto the base as you move down the length of the ski. In this case, the pictures below explain things pretty clearly. It is hard to say how much wax should be used, but when in doubt, use more rather than less.

g. Now you have droplets or a stream of wax running down the length of the ski. Starting from the tip, iron the wax into the ski using a back and forth motion, ensuring that the wax is flowing to and over the edges of the ski.

Keep the iron moving slow enough to allow the wax to become liquid, but fast enough so that you are not overheating the ski or the base. The wax will become liquid, and should stay in liquid form for a few inches trailing behind the iron as you move down the ski. No need to put downward pressure on the iron. If the tip is still liquid when you get to the toe piece of the binding, you are probably going too slow. When in doubt, go faster.
You don't want to burn the base.

h. As soon as you are finished waxing the first ski, immediately scrape off the wax. This is known as a “hot scrape” and is used to clean out the base. More on scraping in the next section. If you already hot scraped, wax again, this time allowing the ski to cool completely before scraping. Set the hot ski aside and begin working on the other.

i. You can wax as many times as you want. I usually do at least one hot scrape followed by one or two coats of additional wax. By this I mean that I hot scrape, add a layer of hot wax, and let the ski cool. Then I scrape and brush, and repeat the waxing. The more you wax, the faster the ski becomes, or so the theory goes.

j. If you have brand new skis, or your skis were just stone ground, it is important to put the ski through at least 5-10 cycles of waxing before you ski them. This is important even for non-race skis.