How to Wax Skis At Home in 4 Easy Steps

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Unknown to many recreational skiers is the fact that you should have your skis waxed and tuned several times per season. If you really want to step up your ski game, you should learn how to wax your own skis. Waxing your skis helps them remain water resistant, which in turn helps you ski faster and turn more smoothly. While there is no clear rule of thumb, most sources suggest that waxing is needed every 5 to 15 days on the snow, depending on conditions and usage. Spending $25 or more per tune-up at your local shop can become costly, so learning how to wax skis on your own is worth it.

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Materials Required

A place to set your skis where they won’t slide around is essential. Dedicated ski vices exist and make the job easy, but are by no means necessary. Any stable platform where your skis can be placed horizontally and flat will work, preferably with some grip at the ends. We use two sawhorses, which work well.

You will need thick, strong rubber bands to hold the ski brake arms in the up position. This will give you a smooth base area free of obstruction.

Using a dedicated ski base cleaner is the best way to remove excess resin and oil. However, rubbing alcohol and similar cleaners are commonly used as a cheaper alternative.

The primary material, ski wax, is obviously needed to wax your skis. Most waxes are temperature-specific and are meant to be applied with an iron. Ski wax has certain properties that allow it to work optimally within a given outside temperature range. The temperature range will be listed on the wax packaging. Using the right wax in the right temperature helps you go faster, but the nuances are most important to ski racers and professionals.

Most recreational skiers should simply choose a universal wax. Universal ski waxes are applied the same as any other wax, but are designed to work fairly well in all temperatures. This means you don’t have to worry about tuning your skis according to the temperature of a given day. For on-mountain tune-ups and quick fixes, rub-on wax is handy to have in a backpack. Simply rub it right onto your bases and work it in with a sponge or cork like material that is usually included. This does not replace a proper hot wax.

You will require a specific waxing iron. These irons are smaller than traditional clothing irons but have thicker base plates to better retain consistent heat. You should NOT use a clothing iron, as they have holes in the bottom that the wax can seep into, which can contaminate your skis and ruin the iron in the process. A good, basic waxing iron should roughly cost $30-60.

Wax scrapers come in plastic and metal varieties. Metal scrapers can be rough on ski bases and are best to be used by a professional. Get yourself a plastic wax scraper. They are cheap, effective, and all you should need for home waxing.

Brushes work into the details of the ski base and remove fine bits of wax in the tiny grooves of your skis. Typically there are metal, nylon, and horsehair brushes. If you have a full set of brushes, you should start by using the hardest brush (metal) and work your way to the finest (horsehair). However, if you decide to use just one brush, it’s recommended to get a nylon brush as a good middle ground.

How to Wax Your Skis in 4 Easy Steps

Step 1: Prep Your Skis

To prep your skis, place them on your platform. This could be vices, sawhorses, a stack of books, or anything else you may be using to stabilize your skis. 

Before you can work on your bases, you need to get your brakes out of the way. Do this by looping your strong rubber band over one brake arm, over the binding heel piece, and hooking it on to the other brake arm. This should apply enough pressure to pull the brake arms up and out of the way.

Wipe down your ski bases with a clean, dry rag and a brush to get off any obvious debris. Then, wipe the skis down with a light amount of your base cleaner. Make sure the bases are completely dry before applying any wax.

Step 2: Apply the Ski Wax

Set your waxing iron to the suggested temperature on the wax packaging. Hold the iron vertically with one corner facing down, just above the ski. Press the ski wax up against the hot iron, sliding it around on the hot iron plate. The wax will start melting and drip down off the corner of the iron onto your ski bases. Drip a small, but consistent line of wax down the length of your ski bases in a zigzag pattern. 

Step 3: Iron the Wax & Let Cool

Place the iron on your ski bases, and slowly glide it down to melt and distribute the wax that you dripped onto them. You are trying to spread the wax out evenly to penetrate the entire base. Always keep the iron moving! You should be moving at least an inch per second and never letting the hot iron rest in one spot too long. Overheating your bases can damage them.

Once you have successfully spread hot wax evenly over your entire ski base, you will need to let the wax cool and solidify in your skis pores. Wait until your bases feel cool to the touch to begin scraping. Cooling usually takes 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Step 4: Scrape & Brush the Wax Off

Why are we removing the wax we just put on? The wax is merely meant to penetrate into the pores of the ski base, not to replace your ski bases entirely. You should remove as much of the ski wax sitting on top of your bases as you can after it has been applied.

Take your plastic wax scraper and scrape your bases tip to tail, angling the scraper in the direction you are moving. Scrape until there is no more wax being removed from the base. Next, to remove the fine bits of wax in the grooves of your ski base, take your brush to the ski base. Again, work tip to tail until the brush no longer removes any ski wax.

Important Ski Waxing Tips

Video: How to Wax Skis

Final Thoughts

Waxing your skis is easy to do at home after you’ve tried it a few times and perfect your technique. For recreational skiers, it’s not a bad idea to take your skis in to a trained ski technician once per season for a full tuning and hot wax. 

Think of wax as a moisturizer for your skis. It seals the bases to prevent them from drying out, which helps your skis last longer. Learning how to wax your skis will help you enjoy a smoother, faster ride down the mountain. If you want to take your ski tuning skills to the next level, then you should also learn how to sharpen your ski edges.