Ski and Snowboard Waxing
Wax on, wax offby Rocky Thompson
Some people believe waxing your skis or snowboard only makes you go faster, but it also greatly extends the life of your ride and allows you to turn easier and with more control. A well-waxed ride will also earn a lot more at the swap when you need to upgrade to next years hottest hotness. If you don’t wax your ride yourself, then you’re either wondering why your black ski bases are gray and fuzzy or you’re shelling out cash to ski shops that you could otherwise be spending at those expensive resort bars. Either way, waxing your alpine skis or snowboard is incredibly easy. There are a few pitfalls, things like burning your bases off or inhaling melted-wax smoke for several hours, but they’re easily avoided.
Here are some step-by-step instructions with photos. The tips come from our employees who tune their own gear. The product links will take you to the gear you need. If you’re starting from scratch you might consider a waxing kit to get going.
Swix Snowboard Wax Kit - Small
Swix Snowboard Wax Kit
Swix Alpine Wax Kit - Large
Clamped down and ready for action
1. Clean them, or not.
If the bases are dirty, clean them using a specific agent that strips wax without harming or drying out the base. If you have cheap skis or you’re extraordinarily bold, you might use citrus degreaser from the hardware store, but if it melts the base off your skis, don’t call us to complain. We recommend using Swix Base Cleaner.
Swix Base Cleaner Set
"Make sure your base is warmed to room temperature before applying the wax." Nick Clark, Buyer.
Nick’s right on this one. If you just took your skis off the roof rack after riding all day, the bases will be cold and none of the wax will stick.
Start dripping the wax
2. Drip wax onto the base.
Heat the wax with an iron until it melts and drips onto the base. Just go light on the drips, if there isn’t enough when you iron it in you can add more later. Use the same heat setting to drip wax onto the base that you’ll use for ironing the wax. If the wax ever starts smoking, turn down the heat.
About this much
“Select waxes with wide temperature ranges. Spend more time skiing, less time waxing,” Joan Guetschow, QA Usability Manager and former Olympic skier.
Get a nice even coat
3. Iron in the wax, then wait.
If you’re using a Swix or Toko waxing iron, use the heat setting recommend on the wax you’ve chosen. If you’re using an iron you found at the thrift store, set it very low, usually around 1 or 2 out of 10. If the wax smokes, the iron is too hot.
“People debate whether the iron should have holes in the base or not. Ideally it shouldn’t, however waxing your board with a waffle iron is better than not waxing it at all; just be careful that the base of the iron is clean and that you don’t have it so hot that you’ve got burning and smoking wax.” Peter Barrett, Buyer.
Swix T73 Waxing Iron
Smooth the wax over the base using the iron. Go slowly enough to allow the wax to absorb but keep the iron moving. If your phone rings or you need to mix another Mai Tai, don’t leave the iron sitting on your board. Keep in mind that your bases are P-Tex and your iron is hot metal. You can add more wax by dripping wherever it’s needed. Iron until you see about one inch of clear wax behind the iron, but remember never to leave the iron in one place on your base for too long—just keep it moving. When you’re done ironing, turn off your iron and wait for the bases to get back to room temperature.
Scrape till she's got nothing left
4. Scrape the wax.
Hold the scraper at about a 45 degree angle and scrape from tip to tail. It’s okay to scrape back and forth a little to get wax out of difficult spots like the shovel. Always use a plastic scraper; metal ones will damage your base.
Toko Plexi Blade
“Be sure that your scraper is free from burrs and nicks before you scrape the wax off your skis or board. If those things exist, run the scraper lengthwise down a file and it will even the edge out. Good as new.” Kendall Card, Community Manager.
Swix 40mm Plexi Sharpener
If you’re a dirtbag, there will be a temptation to reuse the wax that you’ve scraped. Fight this temptation. The melted wax pulls the dirt out of your skis bases, so just throw it away.
Mr. Miyagi says: "Brush the ski."
5. Buff with a structure brush.
Take a course brush and go only from tip to tail. This puts grooves in the base that break up suction and allow you to go faster and turn easier.
Swix White Nylon Coarse Brush
“The best addition to my waxing kit was a base structure brush. Sounds all high tech, but it really just gets the excess wax out off the nooks and crannies of your base. End result you go faster.” Dustin Roberson, Vice President of Marketing.
Though we’ve included links to loads of product, all you really need to get started is some wax, a scraper, and a thrift shop iron. Remember, if it starts smoking turn down your iron and quit inhaling.