It’s springtime, and many of us are shifting gears away from skiing and towards our favourite summer sports. I, personally, have spent at least ten of the past fourteen nights doing bike maintenance on the family fleet. One chore that many of us don’t quite get around to is summer waxing our skis. They just stay on the shelf with whatever was on them during the Sovereign weekend in May.
Why summer wax your skis?
There are three answers to this question, two of them fairly obvious and not controversial, and one of them quite controversial, but still very interesting.
Reason #1: To clean the skis. In the springtime the snow is condensing, and anything contaminating the snow is concentrating on the surface. Grip wax and klister that’s rubbed off of other people’s skis, pitch from trees, and all kinds of other nasty stuff is collecting on the skis surface and in the structure of the ski bases. Making it even worse is the super soft waxes that we use that time of year. The process of summer waxing (outlined below) pulls a lot of this out of the structure and off the surface of the skis.
Reason #2: To protect the skis from physical damage. There isn’t a ton of protection in a millimetre or two of wax, but it does protect the skis from casual scratching when you move the skis around to find your suitcases for the next trip, or whatever else gets stored near your skis.
Reason #3: To prevent oxidation of the ski base. This comes from the observation that if you don’t summer wax your skis, they can develop funny white patches on the base. It is likely that this process isn’t actually oxidation but is rather the volatilization of low molecular weight hydrocarbons in the wax from the structure in the base, leaving a no-longer glossy surface. It’s up in the air whether or not this has any bad effect on the skis, but it looks terrible so is to be avoided at all costs.
How to summer wax
The basic idea is to clean the base by waxing with a soft glide wax, scraping and brushing while still warm, then putting on a nice thick layer of storage wax.
- Only do this to the glide area. Tape off the grip zone. If it has klister or something else gooey on it clean off the gooey stuff with wax remover and put a layer of base binder in the grip zone, then tape off the grip zone
- Use something nice and soft, like a yellow Swix or Toko glide wax, and apply it just like you’re glide waxing the ski
- When it has solidified, but still feels warm, do a quick scrape followed by brushing with a brass bristled brush
- Then put down a nice layer of storage wax. For me, storage wax used to be whatever wax was left in the drawer that wasn’t expensive. Double bonus points if I couldn’t even identify what wax it was originally. Nowadays I use Toko grey wax which is a base prep/storage wax.
- Leave a nice thick layer of the storage wax on, let the skis cool, then store them for the summer.