What Is Ski Wax Made Of? Ski Wax Ingredients

by Robert Stanley | Updated: October 27th, 2022 |  Skiing Articles

Step into a ski shop and you'll be hit with shelves filled with ski wax. Feeling overwhelmed? It's okay. Every skier felt that way at some point. However, the multitude of choices can be overwhelming. Shelves are packed with various wax blends each claiming they're the best at what they do. Some are made for certain temperatures. Others are made for specific brands.

So, what kind of ski wax should you be using? Ski wax is not the most exciting topic to talk about, but it's vital to get it right if you want to make the most out of your ski gear. In a nutshell, ski wax is a petroleum-based product. It acts as a lubricant and sealant for skis and snowboards.

Waxing Ski

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What is the Base of Skis Made of?

Have you noticed how the base of most boards is black? That’s because the bottom of most skis is typically made of polyethylene and graphite, also called “p-tex.” P-tex is a vital impact-resistant substance with minimal friction. It’s an almost sponge-like substance. So, it can absorb wax over and over again. Alpine skis contain more graphite.

As a result, they tend to be denser. Snow is abrasive, no matter how fluffy it feels against your hands. Just imagine what a classic snowflake looks like. Think microscopic. It has multiple micro points and edges. These points can scrape your skin and provide unwanted friction. Hence, ski wax helps with abrasiveness. You don’t want to ski over a bladed surface. Instead, condition the blade to glide seamlessly over snow. Only ski wax can do that.

Choosing the Right Ski Wax

Wax protects your snowboard from oxidation. Oxidizing is inevitable. However, you can counteract it with ski wax. Moreover, you’re up against many forces. There are various types of friction while gliding down a slope. There’s dirt, static, and grime. The skiboard is porous. As a result, it will soak up the wax and enhance your gliding.

However, you should never forget that you’re using the board to ski and not the wax. The wax merely lubricates. Scrape the wax off once you’re done applying. Otherwise, the snow crystals will dig into the board.

Let’s take a look at the different types of ski wax:

1. Block Wax

The most common type of ski wax is block wax. You find these waxes in numerous colors. It needs to be heated with iron to pour into the base. The entire process must be done at a specific temperature. You’ll be exposed to unhealthy fumes or chemicals. Scrape the wax off. You’ll end up with sticky skis.

2. Liquid Wax

This wax must be applied using a cloth. Then, it needs to be rubbed on the base of your snowboard with an applicator. High-end waxes provide a seamless skiing experience. This process is called an overlay.

3. Paste Wax

The most economical wax is paste wax. You’ll find this in a universal temperature range. But, of course, you’ll need a fabric applicator to apply this.

4. Powder Wax

This wax is used after a few layers of block wax. It has one job- to enhance gliding properties. However, it’s pretty costly as it’s made with large fluorocarbons.

5. Spray Wax

You should use this on top of several layers of high-end block wax. Let it dry for a few minutes after spraying. It won’t be a proper overlay otherwise.

Preparing for Race Day

You should use ski wax wisely. There are several factors you should look into. Here’s what.

1. Temperature

Before buying a ski wax, look at the air temperature of your starting point. Temperature varies between the morning and the afternoon. Choose a wax suitable for the lowest temperature.

2. Wind

Dry air will decrease the moisture in the snow and vice versa. But, again, brushing plays an important role here. So, always keep an eye out for temperature changes.

3. Snow Conditions

New snow tends to be sharper. They’ll be more abrasive against your snowboard. So, get a wax suitable for the cold weather. To prepare for these varying weather conditions, invest in hard and soft waxes. The cold weather asks for harder waxes. Soft waxes are suitable for warmer weather conditions.
The color codes are universal. You need to know that the yellow and red are for warmer climates. The blues and greens are for colder ones.

Nordic Skiing
Photo by Baker County Tourism Travel Baker County licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Final Thoughts

Ski wax is a prerequisite for skiing. However, you need some other tools too. A scraper is a must-have. It’ll help you get rid of the excess wax. Make sure you mount it to a waxing bench before scraping.
As for ski wax, always try to invest in an assortment of waxes. There’s no such thing as “over waxing.” Always condition the base of your ski to ensure it’s in prime condition. Let this article help you master the art of gliding!