There are a lot of things that have to be done to get prepped for winter—getting snow tires, turning the furnace on, stacking firewood. But waxing your skis is an equally important chore, because freshly waxed skis will always go faster than un-waxed skis. And that’s key, especially when you’re playing “last one to the bottom buys the beers.” If you’re a do-it-yourself type, then waxing your own skis is easy.
What you’ll need
There are a couple of tools you’ll need to wax your own skis, but once you have them they’ll last a lifetime. First you’ll need an iron you can dedicate to waxing. Either a regular home-use iron or a ski-specific iron will work. Do not use your mom’s/sister’s/girlfriend’s/wife’s iron without telling her. She’ll ruin whatever she irons with it next, and there will be hell to pay. You’ll also need a scraper, some base cleaner, a structure brush, and some wax. What wax you choose is probably the trickiest part, since you’ll often get a different answer depending on who you ask, so to be safe, go for an “all temperature” wax. Unless you’re dropping into the Sochi GS run, whatever wax you choose will work. If you are dropping into the Sochi GS run and you’re waxing your own skis, there’s a good chance you won’t be on the podium at the end of the day.
Clean up your act
Once you’ve got the tools the first thing you’ll need to do is clean the bases of your skis. Spray on the base cleaner and then wipe it off to remove any dirt or grease. This is a great time to inspect your edges and base. If your edges are bent or dented, or if your base has some missing chunks of P-tex, forget about waxing your own skis—it’s time for a professional tune-up. If your bases and edges look good, it’s time to move onto the next step.
Place your skis or snowboard on a bench or table. Be aware that you will likely spill some hot wax, so if you’re not already doing this outdoors or in a garage make sure you have an old sheet or newspaper underneath your work space. With your iron in one hand and your wax in the other, begin gently pushing the wax into the hot iron. The wax will start dripping onto the base of your skis. You don’t need full-coverage, but be sure to drip enough wax onto your skis so that you’ll be able to spread it around once you start using the iron.
Once you’ve dripped the wax, place your iron on the base of your ski and move it in a circular motion to distribute the wax evenly. Just as if you were ironing your clothes, you want to be careful not to leave the iron in one place for too long or you’ll risk burning your skis.
Once the wax is evenly spread on each base, it’s time to let it cool. This is your chance to grab a beer and watch some ski or snowboard videos and get yourself amped for the upcoming season. Different manufacturers recommend different lengths of time to let the wax cool, but 90 minutes should do it.
Once that time has passed, grab your scraper to help take off the excess wax. This is a messy process, so having a vacuum cleaner or broom around is a good idea. Start at the tips of your skis and scrape backwards toward the tails. But be warned, this isn’t easy. It will take some strength and some patience to make sure you’ve got it all off. If you don’t get all of the dried wax off, you might as well have never started to begin with.
Brush it good
Once all the excess wax is removed, use your structure brush and drag it from one end of the ski to the other, tip-to-tail. This removes uneven areas and creates structure. Do this a few times and voila, you’re ready to hit the slopes!