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Waxing skis help them to perform better and have a longer working life. However, repeated waxing can build up residue and create an uneven base layer. So, how can you remove some of the excess ski wax?
Old ski wax can be removed in two ways. Firstly, use a specialist solvent, which dissolves the wax. And secondly, a Hot Wax Scrape, where wax is applied to the base but then scraped off immediately, taking with it dirt and contaminants.
When skis are waxed and scraped repeatedly the result is a super smooth base, as the wax penetrates the contours of the base layer. Most skiers employ wax to reduce friction between the ski and snow, however, cross-country skiers use specialist wax, which grips on hills.
Waxing the base of your skis improves the following:
- The ski base becomes smoother making it glide better over the snow
- The wax creates a barrier against ice and stones, reducing abrasive wear on the ski base.
- Wax repels water, acting as a barrier to stop meltwater from penetrating the core of the ski.
- Cross-country skiers use grip wax or kick wax to improve static friction, enabling them to climb uphill without sliding back.
How Can You Remove Wax?
There are two methods for removing ski wax. The first uses base or wax cleaners, which act as solvents, dissolving the wax and any dirt or oil contamination.
* Solvent Cleaners
Some skiers don’t like solvents, citing they are too aggressive and can remove all the wax from the base. However, used according to the instructions they are still a popular choice, and some skiers use a combination of hot wax removal and solvents as well. The base of the ski is made of a polymer of polyethylene and graphite, which is slightly porous and strong. However, the penetration of both wax and solvent cleaner into the base layer is minimal.
* The Hot Wax Scrape
The second method is the traditional Hot Wax Scrape. The ski is cleaned with soap and warm water to remove any surface dirt. After drying, the ski is waxed in a typical waxing cycle. Wax is dripped onto the base by holding the wax against the iron to melt it. Once the base is covered with a zigzag of melted wax the iron is gently applied in a sweeping motion from the tip to the tail of the ski.
A liquid patch of wax should follow behind the iron, creating an even layer of wax across the whole surface. However, rather than leaving the wax to harden, the base is scraped when the wax is still warm. A plastic scraper is preferable to a metal one, as the latter can cause damage to the ski base if used with a heavy hand. The still-warm wax is easy to remove, and it will have warmed any older layer’s underneath, which can also be scraped off.
Holding the scraper in both hands it can be drawn along the length of the ski, making sure you keep it horizontal to the base surface to ensure even removal of the wax. The corner of the scraper can be employed to chase along the ski edge and base, removing any surplus wax on the border.
The last stage of removal is to use a brass or nylon brush to buff the surface of the ski base. This removes the remnants of the original wax and creates a good surface for the new layer of wax, which will be applied. The brush is held across the width of the ski and, applying gentle pressure, runs along its entire length from tail to tip a few times. Skis perform better when they have been subjected to several waxing cycles. Each extra cycle will help to iron out the imperfections and irregularities in the base surface. Removing most of the ski wax it will take a few waxing cycles to get back to the level of performance at the outset.