Article courtesy of Gear West Ski & Bike
Before you think about glide wax, your ski base should be properly prepared. You may need to remove a thin layer of p-tex to eliminate surface oxidation, nicks, hairs or waves in the base. The appropriate base structure must then be applied (before waxing!).
Second to ski fit, the correct base structure is crucial for great glide. Structure is a specific pattern which is cut or pressed into the ski base. A condensed explanation: 1) fine structure for dryer, lower-humidity snow; 2) medium structure for most of our snow conditions; 3) course snow structure for wet, humid conditions. Factors affecting structure choice are coarseness of the snow crystals, snow temperature and amount of free water in the snow.
Stone grinding is the easiest and most foolproof way to clean, flatter and structure ski bases. A professional stone grind eliminates the need to sand, steel scrape and/or rill the base. Stone grinding removes the kilometers of snow time needed to make the skis fast.
Now you can glide wax with good results. These days, most companies offer excellent glide waxes. The real difference among waxes is their ability to repel dirt and moisture. This is where high fluorinated waxes shine. On clean, dry snow you can obtain similar results using a regular hydrocarbon or a low fluoro wax.
These waxes are the foundation of your wax box. A common mistake is to have too many waxes; three or four of your favorites will suffice. The latest from Scandinavia is to always blend two waxes - one hard and one soft. Colder temps require more hard wax and vice versa.
These waxes repel dirt and moisture. Used with the appropriate ski base structure, fluoro waxes will reduce surface friction and increase glide. The amount of fluorocarbon in the wax will determine its effectiveness; a low-fluoro, less expensive wax will not perform as well as it's hi-fluoro companion. At the elite level, fluorinated hard waxes are used as a base for fluoro powders.
Pressed or in powder form, these waxes are not bonded with hydrocarbons and must be applied with a hot iron. It is very important that you do not overhead and destroy your ski base. Therefore you must apply a base wax layer first before spreading the fluorinated wax. And, you need a good iron - Swix or Toko - whose temperature does not fluctuate. You can cork on fluoro powders, but their durability is severely diminished.
Proper tools are necessary to create fast bases. Our tool recommendations are simpler to beginning skiers or those not comfortable with handling tools. The minimum you will need however is:
- Plastic scraper
- Plastic brush
- Groove scraper
- Wax remover and cork (kick wax only)
To apply the waxes with the least amount of frustration you should own a wax profile bench and/or ski clamps. Additional tools and accessories for the enthusiast: steel scraper, base plainer, t-scraper, cork, fibertex, Fiberlene, riller or rill bar, horsehair brush, bronze brush, roto brush, etc. - lots of fun stuff!
Most important for proper grips to have a properly fit ski. NO wax will work if your ski's camber is too stiff. A common mistake is to choose wax by looking at air temperature only. Remember to consider snow type (fresh or granular), humidity and snow temperature.
Best results are achieved by using two kick waxes; apply the harder wax or binder first for durability, then the softer wax on top. For serious racers, grip wax thickness should consist of at least 7 thin smooth layers. Citizen skiers can meet most all wax conditions owning only 4 to 6 hard waxes (and 1-2 kilisters). Stop by for recommendations on the most common/useful waxes to use.
The grip wax zone for most skis and conditions is 40-50cm, or approximately 20-30cm in front of the binding. Never wax behind your heel.
Klister works best on a klister ski, which has a slightly stiffer and shorter wax product. Otherwise, just shorten your kick zone on your regular classic ski. For serious skiers, a klister tip is to use 2-3 types. The job of the first layer is to grip to your ski, while the other klister(s) are mixed as needed for the best possible snow grip.
To prevent excess debris from accumulating on your klister, cover the outer layer with a fluorinated klister, or a thin layer of kick was, which will help repel dirt.
Tips for klister removal:
- Lay toilet paper over klister and press down
- With a designated plastic (klister) scraper, scrape off the toilet paper, thereby removing most of the klister
- Spread wax remover over the klister zone
- Dampen a clean scrubby with wax remover and rub over remaining klister
- Dry with Fiberlene