Wax Own Back
Start with a clean and properly structured base. Make sure the base is flat and the edges are not railed (higher than the base). If your edges or bases need maintenance, do that before you start to wax, and make sure no metal filings are stuck in the base.
If your bases are dirty, you can use base cleaner or citrus solvent to remove grime and oil, but use it sparingly and be sure to allow the bases to dry completely before waxing. If you use a solvent, just a small splash on a cloth is plenty. Be careful, base cleaners and solvents tend to remove all residual wax left in your base (you’d like to keep some of this if you can), so skip this step if your bases seem clean.
A dry base with visible white areas or obvious “hairs” showing in the P-Tex are sure signs that you need to wax NOW. This base needs wax badly!
Clean the surface of your base with Fibratex (also known as Scotch-Brite) to remove old wax and surface dirt. If the base looks very smooth, you can “open up” the structure (create a rougher surface) by brushing with a brass brush and moderate pressure so the P-Tex will absorb wax more readily.
Some base materials are better at absorbing wax than others. Less expensive skis and boards and those meant to endure abuse usually use bases made of extruded P-Tex, a very dense form of Polyethylene that’s durable but doesn’t adhere too well to wax. Higher end skis and snowboards use sintered P-Tex bases, which have a porous structure and are better at retaining wax.
What wax should I use?
Wax is either “all-temperature” or “temperature specific."All-Temperature Wax All-temp or universal wax is designed to work well in any temperature or snow conditions. It may be a good choice if the temperature varies a lot where you ride or if you ski in different geographical areas during your season and can’t predict what the weather will be like.
Temperature Specific Waxes Temperature specific waxes are designed to work best within a certain range of temperatures, providing increased performance that requires a little more effort. Swix “8 Series” (pink) waxes, for instance, are meant for temperatures between 1˚C and -4˚C (34˚F to 25˚F). There is some overlap in the temperature ranges; the next colder wax, the “7 Series” (violet), is for temperatures from -2˚C to -8˚C (28˚F to 18˚F). Temperature specific waxes will still work better than no wax in temperatures outside of their “ideal” range, and it’s possible to combine two temperature specific waxes if you anticipate borderline temperatures. Using temperature specific waxes requires that you follow the weather and anticipate the temperatures you’ll be riding in, and you might find yourself re-waxing if conditions change drastically.
Fluorocarbons Alpine waxes are available in Hydrocarbon (basic), Low-Fluorocarbon (faster), and High-Fluorocarbon (fastest) versions. The increase in glide from adding fluorocarbons to wax can be dramatic, especially in high water content snow, but the price increases are pretty significant, too – users of high-fluoro waxes tend to be competition-oriented and willing to pay to gain a slight advantage in speed. For most recreational use, hydrocarbon or low-fluoro waxes are a good choice.
Airborne fluorocarbon fumes and particles have been associated with certain health risks, and PFC’s (perfluorochemicals, the type of compounds associated with ski waxes) have been shown to accumulate in your body over time. If you use these waxes, it’s recommended that you do so in an area with good ventilation and consider the use of a mask or respirator if you work with them a lot.
What kind of iron should I use?
Alpine hard waxes are applied with a hot iron. A wax iron is a good investment if you plan on waxing your own skis or snowboards regularly. Wax irons have a fairly narrow temperature band (they don’t get as hot as a clothes iron) and maintain a more consistent temperature. Wax is typically applied at temperatures between 120˚C and 140˚C (248˚F to 284˚F).