Waxing for Artificial Snow

Waxing for Artificial Snow

Artificial snow can let you start the season early, but know what wax to use.

One needs to think slightly differently when waxing for artificial "man made" snow since it has a different makeup than natural snow. Natural snow is happy snow, forming slowly over time, high in the atmosphere, and then gently falling to earth. In contrast, artificial snow is made from pressurizing water and then forcing it through an atomizer in a very short amount of time. The result of this rapid birth is that artificial snow resembles a solid triangular block of ice. Which means it 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.

Artificial snow is more abrasive than natural snow.

If you compare a square foot of natural snow to a square foot of artificial snow, there can be up to 5 times the amount of artificial snow in that area. Why does this concern us? Well, it comes down to friction; each flake of snow has sharp edges that come in contact with the ski base—the more snow, the more drag-inducing friction the skier encounters. The waxes job is to keep the sharp edges of the snow from finding microscopic imperfections on the bottom of the ski base robbing the skier of their momentum. This is why a colder wax for the temperature conditions is recommended. A colder wax is harder. This hardness will provide a surface that will push the snow down into the snowpack instead of allowing the crystals to dig into a softer wax on the ski base.

Ski Flex and Structure 

The ski flex and structure for artificial snow are the most difficult to predict and are dependent on the tilling, 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 to soft ski flex with a little more structure than normal. A universal grind works well, or for more humid conditions, use the Finite Structure Tool or Equivalent CP-17 Right-Left Swivel pattern or a light 0.3 mm broken pattern; either will work.

Glide Wax

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 to 2 layers HS 10 Teal or HSLF 10 Green Top Layer HSLF 20 Blue or HSF 20.

Grip Wax 

(There are several new artificial snow grip wax combinations on the market here are some suggestions) Grip wax will vary a little more depending on how transitioned the snow is and how often the trail was groomed. For finer new blown artificial snow most hard waxes will work well with an ironed in binder.

When the snow has transitioned and is at or above freezing, iron in a Klister binder and add universal Klister as the grip wax. Here are some recommended options: iron in a Blue Klister and top coat with a Mulitgrade Klister or Rex Gold Klister. For icy conditions, use a Blue Klister binder and top coat with Rex OV ice Klister or Rex Gold Klister.

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