How to Wax Downhill Skis
By. Thom Phillips
Ski waxing is the most basic, and arguably, the most important part of ski tuning. A well waxed ski provides a great experience on the mountain by offering a clean glide and smooth on snow feel. A well waxed base retains its structure, leading to less stone grinding, and also helps keep edges from rusting.
As a general rule when wax is properly ironed into a base it will last six to seven days. However extreme conditions can lengthen or shorten how long wax is effective. Very dry or very cold conditions tend to be more harsh and will pull wax out of a base more quickly, while warmer or more humid conditions can allow wax to stay in the base longer. An easy way to determine whether or not a ski needs a new coat of wax, apart from feeling sticky while skiing, is to check for oxidation. Simply, if the base appears to be white or chalky in appearance by the edges the base is oxidizing and is in need of a fresh coat of wax. Oxidation will be easiest to notice under the binding where most of a skiers pressure is applied.
For easy and proper ski waxing a few tools are required. A basic setup involves wax, and iron, a vise, one or more brushes, and a scraper. There are many varieties of tools and they are explored in more depth through our buying guides. Once these tools are gathered, waxing becomes a very quick and convenient process.
Set up your vise on a flat surface, that allows enough room to lay a ski out flat.
Depending on the vise it may be necessary to restrain the ski’s brake. If so, the easiest way to do this is by using a strong rubber band, looping it around one side of the brake, over the heel unit of the binding and looping over the other arm.
Place the ski base up on the vise, and brush the ski at least five times, from tip to tail. At this point the brushing is to clean the base and open up the structure for maximum wax absorption, coarse bronze or steel brushes are most effective.
Set your iron to the correct temperature for the desired wax. Most waxes will have a suggested melting temperature on the box. If not 230 degrees Fahrenheit is a safe choice.
Once your iron has reached proper temperature hold the wax of your choice against the iron surface. From three to five inches above the ski base drip the wax in a side to side pattern while moving down the length of the ski. The goal is to use as little wax as possible, while providing an even coat.
Place the iron onto the ski and melt the dripped wax thoroughly into the base. Keep the iron moving, but slowly, to provide a solid and even coat.
Once the wax cools the base will continue to absorb wax for up to three days. Giving the ski time to sit is ideal, but if time is an issue, simply allowing the wax to reach room temperature will still provide a good coat.
After the wax has cool you need to remove the excess. Remember that the goal of waxing a ski is to get wax into the base and not on the base. Using a plexi scraper, remove the excess by drawing the scraper from tip to tail of the ski. Do your best to remove as mush as possible to make brushing easier.
Excess wax will still be held in the structure of the ski, and brushing is the key to opening it up. Brush the ski from tip to tail until no wax dust is created by the brush. This will usually take five to ten passes depending on the brushes used. Starting with a medium bronze brush and working down to a softer brush like blue nylon will provide the best combination of cleaning and polishing.
At this point you are done, repeat as necessary with all the skis for your family or friends!