by Scott Murison
To wax or not to wax; this is the question. Read on to find out if, and how, to wax your nordic skis.
These are the skis described as non wax, no wax, skin or fish scale. These skis will function with no additional wax but your enjoyment will be higher, your efficiency improved and the effort to go from A to B decreased if you do apply some glide wax.
Glide wax for these skis can be as easy as rolling on some F4 Universal Glide Wax rub-on wax. It goes on the whole ski except the fuzzy skin if you have skin skis. This is a 1 minute job and will last up to 15km of skiing.
For skin skis there is some very easy minor maintenance you can perform. Skins eventually pick up other people's wax from the ski trails and pine pitch. You can give them an easy wipe with a skin cleaner to bring back their performance. This will help the skins from icing up and get other peoples grip wax off your skins.
If you want to improve the performance of your skis further, you can hot wax the tip and tail (not over fish scale or skin areas). See directions to do this below. This is a 30 min job and requires an investment of $100+. Check out what you need.
Waxable Classic Skis
Then there are waxable classic skis. On these you can use glide wax on the tip and tail like the no-wax skis, but under your foot you will need to apply a temperature sensitive grip or kick wax. This wax gives you grip like fish scales or skins but different waxes must be applied that match the temperature of the snow. This is a 10 minute job and requires a selection of waxes, cork, scraper, and wax cleaner.
When it comes to waxes, the more expensive Vr waxes last longer and are key if you are a marathon skier. If you are not skiing 20+km then the standard waxes are great.
Hot Waxing Skate Skis and Classic Skis
A well-waxed ski will bring a giant grin to your face. When you choose the correct wax for the conditions and apply it properly, your skis have incredible glide. Hot waxing is not hard but requires a space to work in and some essential tools.
- First, get your skis upside down and stable. Sadly the world is sold out of moderately priced nordic ski forms. These forms range from $200-$400 but you can sub in a crude replacement that will work in a pinch with some 2x4 (see image A below). If you are handy in the workshop you can build a beautiful one (see image B). We can also order you a pro one for $400+ (image C).
- Choose the wax for the temperature you will be skiing in. If you want speed and are keen on skiing 20+km I would recommend going for an LH wax vs CH.
- If your old wax is unknown or for warmer temperatures, it's time clean the base. Get some Fibrelene and wax remover and wipe the bases down.
- Look at the wax and find out the suggested iron temperature - it will be printed on the package. Set your iron.
- Rub the wax on the iron and then chalk the wax onto the ski. You can drip the wax, but this is slower and uses more wax.
- Now that the ski is mostly covered in a very thin layer of chalky looking wax, you melt the wax by ironing it. DO NOT overheat the base by leaving the iron still or moving it too slowly. The wax needs to melt and go shiny as the iron passes. If the iron is smoking it is too hot.
- Let the ski cool for 5+ minutes and then scrape the wax off with smooth, even strokes using a 4 or 5mm scraper. Use a multi scraper to clean the groove if your ski has one.
- Brush the base with a ski brush. Go tip to tail with each section receiving 10 strokes with firm pressure. Once with a brass or stiff brush and then again with a softer nylon brush. This cleans the wax out of the base structure and makes sure your skis are fast in high humidity snow.
- Go ski and get massive grins until your face hurts.