We have seen a huge influx in liquid paraffin waxes from all of the major waxing manufacturers over the last few years since their introduction to the industry. The draw to liquid waxes is simple: less time waxing your skis = more time out on the snow. After a long day of waxing and preparing skis for customers at the shop I have warmly welcomed liquid waxes myself and have appreciated the speed boost when I am out skiing and coaching. The cost and barrier to entry of waxing is also significantly lower when you use liquid waxes! No iron, scraper, bench, or groove pin necessary, just a bottle of wax and a brush is all you need to refresh and protect your skis before you head out to cover the kilometers.
It can be a little overwhelming when each different brand has different instructions for using their waxes, especially if using a liquid glide wax is new to you. Here at Pioneer Midwest, we have been lucky enough to work with liquid waxes from their inception and have some application best processes that ring true for all liquid glide waxes. Below we have outlined what we believe to be some helpful tips to get the most out of your liquid waxes both durability and speed wise.
This is arguably the most important piece of the waxing puzzle, even if you are waxing with a traditional iron setup. By cleaning your ski base thoroughly, you are cleaning out dirt that has accumulated in the structure and base of your ski. If you can get into the habit of cleaning your ski bases after you ski, you will dramatically increase the lifespan of your bases and ski performance. Expect future blogs to touch on the importance of structure in the ski speed process.
We recommend a glide-specific cleaner like the Rex Glide Cleaner in order to not strip the skis entirely of all the wax in the base. Rex glide cleaner has paraffin in it that replaces the paraffin in your base as you clean, the longer you let it dry, the longer the wax has to set up and bond with your base. Contrary to popular belief a ski base relies more closely on the act of paraffin bonding as opposed to acting like a straw and sucking in wax.
Apply the glide cleaner evenly to coat the ski entirely using a fiber cloth or shop towel that will not fall apart with the addition of moisture.
Let the glide cleaner sit and dry (about 3-5 min, longer never hurts)
Brush out the glide cleaner with a medium bristled brush, if you have accumulated a lot of dirt into your structure you can use a fine steel brush to pull out the most dirt during this process. *do not over brush or push into the base with a fine steel brush
***We have seen a dramatic difference in liquid wax durability when we add the use of a liquid glide cleaner.
Application of Liquid Glide Wax:
Each brand that produces liquid waxes has slightly different instructions for use, specifically drying (wait time) and brushing. These application steps are universal to all the brands of liquid wax that we carry here at Pioneer Midwest: Start, Star, Swix, Rex, Rode, Vauhti.
Starting with a clean ski base, apply the liquid so it visually covers the entire base or glide zones. There is no harm in applying too much, but there is no added benefit in adding more than an even coat at once.
The longer you let the wax sit on the ski, the more durability you will get out of it. As in many things, there are diminishing returns at a certain point, at minimum we recommend about 20 min to let the liquid wax dry and at a maximum we let the wax sit overnight if you are proactive and wax your skis after a ski as opposed to when you are getting ready to go.
For even more durability, I use a natural cork-like these from Red Creek, Rex, or Swix to generate some heat to help bond the paraffin to the base. With light-moderate pressure move the cork back and forth on the base until the dried paraffin on the base starts to disappear. Here you are creating heat through friction that helps the paraffin further bond with the ski base, again this is not mandatory but will help with longevity and durability. This step would only take about 30 seconds per ski and does not need to be overdone.
We have found that it is best to use a medium to stiff-bristled nylon brush when removing liquid glide wax. Something like this from REX or this from RED CREEK would both be great options to get the extra wax off and bases polished and ready to go. Both of these brushes you can scrub back and forth with without causing any damage or affecting the base or structure of the ski. The goal here is to simply brush until you get to a nice uniform black base.
Without getting too technical on wax selection, there are a few important notes when buying liquids. Just like iron on waxes, selecting the correct wax is a very important piece of the puzzle. I have personally found that sprays under normal application have slightly improved durability due to the harsher chemicals used in order to break down the paraffin. Sprays often have more odor to them because of this so are not the best selection for use in smaller/tighter areas. Durability is not always everything through and many rub on liquid waxes offer performance where some sprays have holes in their lineups. Liquid waxes also have varying consistency, so choosing a wax that is too warm (soft) can prove to be a liability, especially on longer skis as conditions may change and softer waxes tend to pick up and attract more dirt compared to their colder/harder counterparts. Depending on where you are skiing and snow conditions waxing selection can seem tricky at times. If you are in between waxes we generally select the colder of the two… but give us a ring and we will be happy to help you choose something that will be nice and fast whether you are racing or just out for a casual ski.
Skiing in certain conditions such as manmade snow is inherently tougher on your ski bases, if you are mainly skiing on manmade snow we do recommend an occasional application of an iron-on coat of wax. Through a heating application, the consistency of base material sees a more dramatic change in order to match the hard and abrasive conditions of manmade snow. This is a similar reason to why we base harden nearly all skis that we thermobox here at Pioneer Midwest, the harder your base material the better your liquid wax can bond and retain its bond.
Give us a shout for more in-depth questions regarding liquid waxes or for any waxing recommendations!