Fast Wax has been around for years, and we would like to share the knowledge we have collected of waxing hundreds of thousands of skis for hundreds of thousands of skiers. Below are the philosophies we ski by. Read and see if we can help you become a faster skier!
RULES OF THUMB
- When in doubt about which wax temperature to use, go colder than the conditions call for.
- Cold wax on warm snow is okay; warm wax on cold snow is a disaster.
- Always work from the tip of the ski to the tail of the ski.
- A digital waxing iron maintains a consistent and very accurate temperature. Putting wax on at the recommended temperature allows you to have greater control over how much wax you are putting on. This is a cost-saving tip when using High Fluoro waxes.
- Always put on thin layers of wax; thick layers will gum up your corks and brushes.
- New snow is sharp and pointy, causing more drag on your base. Fight this using a wax from a temp range one colder than the current temp.
- New snow is a factor for just 2-3 days. After that the flakes will lose their sharpness and you can wax at temperature again. Until then wax colder.
- Paraffin Wax is used fight dry friction.
- Always let your base cool to room temperature before scraping them, about 30 minutes.
- Store your skis in the off-season in a cool, dark room, and keep your bases out of direct sunlight.
- Keep your wax collection in a cool dark place when not in use.
- If your base looks chalky and white, it is thirsty and needs wax!
- When determining a wax for an alpine race, look at the whole race course. Look for any flat sections that you may need to carry speed through. Will the course be in direct sunlight all morning or in the shadows?
- Use Google Maps to analyze your race course. Use NOAA to predict the weather conditions.
- Start prepping for your race seven days in advance.
- Structuring your skis or snowboard can really improve your speed in wet conditions.
- Clean your base groove and edges while the wax is still warm.
- Always keep a warm waxing iron sanding up while not in use. This allows the heat from the sole to escape without cooking the electronics in the handle.
- Keep wax in the packaging, or use a sharpie to document what type of wax it is.
- What is Fluorocarbon? It is a wax additive that repels water in snow, significantly reducing wet friction. Most are now prohibited for racing and selling in the US.
- A hot scrape is when you scrape your skis while the wax is still warm. You do not wait for the wax to cool. When you hot scrape, you will pull old wax and contaminates from your base. A great way to reset and clean your ski base.
- New Snow is sharp. Think of a snowflake, it has all these pointy arms all around it. These pointy arms will attempt to dig into your wax causing drag which slows you down. When skiing in new snow you will need to make sure to use a wax that is hard enough to keep the snow crystals from digging into it. This is often done by selecting a wax with a little colder than the temperatures call for. If the temperature calls for a 20-degree wax but there is new snow, wax with a wax that is for 10 degrees.
- Transformed Snow, if the snow becomes frozen then thaws or is mechanically chopped up we call this transformed snow. Like old snow, these snowflakes do not resist as you pass over them.
- Old Snow, after fresh snow is on the ground approximately 4 days old it can be called old snow. The sharp points around the snowflake will have broken down by then, providing less resistance as you pass over it.
- Wet Friction: have you ever trapped water between two panes of glass? The suction created between the panes is like what Wet Friction does between the snow and your base. When this happens, you will feel a significant reduction in your speed.
- Dry Friction: is friction between your base and the snow. As you pass over the snow crystals, they try to dig into your base and slow you down. This is the easiest form of friction to overcome. Properly waxed skis will greatly reduce the effects of this type of friction.
- Environmental Friction: the great outdoors is full of pollutants, and as the distances you go the more opportunity you have to tap sap, dirt, etc on your wax. These environmental factors will cause more drag on your skis.
- Ski Base: most bases are sintered; this process of bonding small plastic molecules into a solid sheet provides little 3-dimensional voids between the plastic molecules. It is in these voids that wax hides in until it is needed.
- Structure: this is when you imprint a physical pattern on the bottom of your base. These patterns help wick away water, thereby reducing suction when it is wet out, and in dry conditions, a flat, smooth surface is the key to speed.
- Hot Box: a process that bakes wax deep into your ski base, some shops can do this for you.
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT WITH NORDIC WAXING
- When determining a wax for a Nordic ski race look at the whole race course. Will you be crossing any open fields or lakes, will you be crossing roads, or will you be in the trees and in and out of the shadows all day long?
- Any time you cross a road in Nordic skiing, you could pick up dirt and other environmental pollutants that will cause drag and slow you down.
- Any time you cross a large field or lake in Nordic skiing you should be thinking about the snow. Will it be fresh sharp snow, or wind-whipped dry snow.
- If you are Nordic skiing down a trail through the woods, the sun will be heating up snow in parts and the shadows cooling the snow in other parts.
- In Nordic Ski Racing, Wax is only one of three items you need to weigh to prep for your race; ski flex and ski structure are the other two.
SPECIAL CONDITIONS (SUPER SECRET WAX SECRETS)
Here are some special conditions to double-check your waxing setup and adjust for peak performance.
- Cold clear still night: The snow crystal will be colder and sharper than normal. Wax for colder than expected conditions.
- Cold night and north wind: Expect low humidity and cold snow. Wax for colder than expected conditions, and use a low fluorocarbon wax.
- Overcast: The snow will be closer to the air temperature and more humid. Wax for warmer conditions with higher humidity add more structure.
- Race in the Woods: The snow will stay cold and have sharper crystals, wax for colder conditions.
- Wet New Snow: wax for warmer than expected temperatures, use lots of structure.
- Fine Dry New Snow: wax for colder than expected conditions and temperatures.
- Low areas near open water: Colder and more humid than expected.
- Old Dirty Snow: wax for warmer than expected temperatures, add structure.
- Cold race start below freezing and warming conditions above freezing Do not be fooled at the start, here skis without structure will feel fast at the start and slow dramatically as the temperatures warm. Add structure here at the start and wax more for the finish temperature.
WAXING FOR ARTIFICIAL SNOW
- Artificial snow has a different makeup than natural snow and requires a slightly different approach to waxing. Artificial snow is a solid triangular block of ice and tends to be more abrasive than natural snow. Artificial snow can also vary from a fine, newly blown snow crystal to a large abrasive transformed “icy” snow crystal.
- In either case, Artificial snow is more abrasive than natural snow.
SKI FLEX AND STRUCTURE
- The ski flex and structure for artificial snow are the most difficult to predict and are dependent on the grooming and the amount of traffic on the trail (generally high). You will need to test ski flex and structure at the site for optimal performance.
- For most conditions Fast Wax recommends a moderate ski flex with a little more structure than normal. A universal grind works well or for more humid conditions, or a right-left swivel / chevron pattern or a light 0.3 mm broken pattern.
- Skis that are too stiff will be difficult to kick and will slip on the up hills, skis that are too soft will drag the wax pocket. Tip... Error on the side of being too soft.
- Fast Wax recommends using a glide wax one temperature range colder than indicated for the conditions. It is advisable to wax more frequently as artificial snow tends to wear the wax and bases faster than normal.
- A good combination is a harder base layer than the top layer. Here is an example for 20 F conditions: Base Layer 1 or 2 layers HS 10 Teal. Finish with a top layer HSLF 20 Blue.
WAXING FOR NEW AND STONE GROUND SKIS
Open the Skis Base
- After scraping off the storage wax, aggressively brush the ski base from tip to tail with the Fast Wax Superfine SS Brush. This will open the ski base allow better penetration of the new wax.
Remove Base Hairs
- (Optional) Brush the ski from tip to tail using a White Scotchbrite Pad wrapped over a Speed Block or a flat cork. This is to keep Scotchbrite pad flat and prevent it rounding off the ski edges. Next, use a razor tool held at a 90° angle to the ski and lightly scrape the ski several times to remove the fine base hairs. Check the razor blade edge after each pass and repeat until no gray fillings are left on the razor.
Hot Wax Process
- Using a digital ski waxing iron, drip a generous amount of Base Prep wax onto the ski base and iron in from tip to tail. The wax will act as an insulator, a generous layer helps keep the iron off the skis base, use about one drip every 1/2 inch, more if you are inexperienced. When ironing in the wax, draw the iron down the ski holding a molten bead of wax about 2 to 3 inches behind the iron, and always keep the iron moving. If necessary a second pass can pick up any places that are missed.
Scraping off the Wax
- Scrape the groove with a groove tool and clean off the edges while the ski is still warm. Then let the ski cool slowly to room temperature before scraping the bases. Scrape the wax off using short easy strokes again working the ski from tip to tail until all the wax is removed. Use a sharp scraper and keep it sharp. A scraper sharpener makes it easy to give the scraper a few passes each time before scraping.
Brushing out the ski
- Use the Fast Wax Superfine SS brush, followed by the Fast Wax Horse Hair brush, and polish with the Fast Wax black nylon brush.
- Repeat steps Hot Wax, Scrape, Brushing for each wax.
- New Skis 5 to 6 layers or Base Prep followed by 2 to 3 layers of HS-30 Red, 2 to 3 layers of HS-20 Blue and a few layers of HS-10 Green - add the wax of the day and go skiing.
- Stone Ground Skis This depends on whether the skis were deep ground to remove gouges and burnt bases or were just "touched up."
- Deep Ground Bases Follow the same procedure described in the new skis section, as most of the wax will be removed in the grinding process.
- Touched up Skis
- The process is shortened as not as much base and wax was removed in the grinding process. Reduce the Base Prep applications to about 2 or 3 layers followed by the HS-30 Red and a few layer of HS-20 Blue, then apply the wax of the day and ski.
- Skis generally do not get fast until they get some hard wax into them. This is something to try if your skis do not seem to be fast or are not getting fast -- add a few layer of HS-10 Teal Wax.
Fast Wax has compiled this list of things to think about when waxing. Hopefully, some small changes to how you can make a big difference in your speed and make you fast!