Do New Skis Need to Be Waxed?
Unpacking a brand-new pair of skis from the factory is a treat for any skier. Most people’s first impulse is to put them on and try them on the mountain. But are they ready to use or do they need to be waxed?
New skis are often coated in wax when they leave the factory. However, this wax is low quality and is aimed at protecting the skis during transit. It’s best to remove this wax and re-wax your skis with commercial ski wax. Your ski shop can do this for you, or you can buy a ski maintenance kit, which has all the kit needed to wax skis. With care, you can easily wax them yourself in a garage or workshop.
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However, before you rush out you must check whether your skis have been waxed by the factory. Usually, manufacturers do wax new skis but this is for protection during shipping rather than any preparation for skiing. Consequently, manufacturers apply a cheap all-round wax, as it is used for protection rather than performance.
That said, if you can’t wait, taking your new skis out on the snow with the factory wax isn’t going to damage them. However, having spent all that money it’s a good investment to regularly wax them for protection and to improve your skiing experience. Either by taking your new skis to the ski shop or by buying wax and a few other cheap materials you can extend the working life of your skis, with the following benefits:
- It makes the ski base super smooth, so it glides better over the snow
- Wax creates a barrier from ice and stones to reduce damage to the ski base
- Wax repels water stopping it from penetrating the core and layers of the ski
- The cumulative protective effects of wax are a good investment, creating a much longer working life
It’s a good idea to Wax your New Skis
So, having decided there are several reasons why it’s a good idea to wax your new skis. How do you go about it? And how often do you need to wax them? If you only ski a few weekends, then applying wax just once at the beginning of the season should be adequate. However, if you are a frequent skier or you’re skiing in adverse conditions over poor or particularly wet snow then the waxing frequency should be increased.
During the season is a good idea to periodically check the ski bases to ensure there is still adequate wax applied. If the wax coating is wearing thin you will notice white chalky patches, which usually form along the edges of the base and spread into the center.
During skiing, the edges of the skis tend to take the most punishment and so the wax wears off here first. Another symptom of a ski needing to be waxed is that the ski will stick to snow sometimes. Occasionally the very thin layer of water between the ski and the snow can create suction, which stops the ski from moving. Ordinarily, the repellent action of the wax against the water stops this from happening.
Even with new skis if the conditions change it’s a good idea to re-wax your skis. For example, when the temperature and snow conditions change from wet snow to powder, or even if there is significant new snowfall.
When you check your ski bases if you find the surface is scored and rough, with white or greyish patches that suggest the layer of wax is wearing thin then re-waxing is needed. Similarly, waxing at the end of the season is a good preventative measure to protect the skis and to stop the edges from rusting.
What equipment do you need to Wax New Skis?
If you don’t want to wax your new skis yourself your local ski shop will be able to help. If you want to wax the skis yourself there are numerous ski maintenance kits, which contain all the equipment and wax for you to do the job yourself.
The advantage of a ski maintenance kit is that all the products have been designed to be used with skis, which may not be the case when you buy individual products. You will need the following equipment:
You will need to work on the skis while they are securely held with their bases up. Ideally, a workbench or table is the easiest. To secure the skis you can use a couple of G-clamps and a couple of elastic bands to retract the ski brakes, to stop them from getting in the way.
For your first waxing choose a universal wax. As you become more experienced with waxing you can choose specialist formulations, which will be appropriate for your type of skiing.
Ideally, a ski waxing iron is the best idea. It is the right shape for ski bases and the temperature range is well controlled for skiing waxes. You can use a domestic iron, at a pinch, but the temperature isn’t as controllable as a ski waxing iron, so there’s a possibility you may damage the ski bases.
Additionally, for your ski maintenance kit, you will also need a stiff nylon brush, a plastic ski scraper, and a soft cloth for buffing.
How Do You Wax Brand New Skis?
- A strong elastic band can be used to tie the ski brakes out of the way
- Turn the skis over is and secure them on the table with G-clamps
- Use your plastic scraper to scrape as much of the factory wax off as possible. Ski scrapers are made of harder plastic, which removes the wax without damaging the ski base.
- Heat your iron to the right temperature for your chosen wax. It’s best to use a specialist ski wax iron although a domestic iron can be used.
- Starting at the tip of the ski, hold the wax against the iron and let the melted wax drop onto the ski base, making an S-shape as you progress along the ski
- Push the iron sideways along the length of the skis slowly to melt the trail of wax into a smooth coat. Don’t allow the iron to stop at any point as this can easily damage the polyethylene base of the ski.
- Finish off that ski with one long pass along its entire length
- Put the ski to one side, ideally overnight, for the wax to penetrate
- Repeat the process with the other ski
- Mount the first ski in the clamps
- Use a purpose-made ski scraper to scrape off some of the wax.
- Starting at the tip of the ski, run the ski scraper along the base of the ski at 45° to remove excess wax. Keep repeating until the scraper stops curling up wax.
- Finally use a hand brush made from nylon or horsehair to buff the ski base, removing the remains of the loose wax left after scraping.
- After this process the ski base should feel completely smooth and have a good sheen.