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Waxing 101

Mere mortals can, in fact, learn to maintain their skis at home (and save money in the process).

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Even the most dedicated skiers can get lazy about waxing their skis regularly. But technically, your skis should be waxed every half dozen ski days (at minimum), and not just to make them glide faster. “Wax increases the density of your bases so they’ll be less susceptible to damage,” says Leif Sunde, experienced ski technician and cofounder of the Denver Sports Lab in Golden, Colo. “If you’re ever bored, just wax your skis. There’s no such thing as too much wax.” 

Paying someone else to wax your skis that often can get pricey, so learning to do it yourself can save you a chunk of change. Plus, Sunde is willing to stake his livelihood that anyone can learn to wax. Just gather the right supplies, clear some space in a well-ventilated basement or garage, and follow these easy steps.


1. Prep Skis

Prepping skis for waxing.
A strong rubber band is just the ticket to keep the ski brake out of your way.Photo courtesy of Keri Bascetta
  1. Retain the brakes of your skis by looping a strong rubber band around the brakes and the heel piece of the binding.
  2. Apply a base cleaner/conditioner with a sponge to remove any road salts and chemicals the skis may have picked up to and from the resort. Then use a base brush to remove excess contaminants. This will ensure you have a clean surface to work with.

2. Apply Wax

Wax being applied to skis
Keep the wax moving on the iron and keep the iron moving as you drip wax onto the ski.Photo courtesy of Keri Bascetta
  1. Heat the waxing iron to the appropriate temperature for the wax you’re working with. Ensure iron is not smoking when you apply wax, as this indicates overheating.
  2. Turn the iron upside down so the top corner of the iron hovers just above the base of the ski. Gently hold the brick of wax against the base of the iron and drizzle the wax down the length of the ski, working tip to tail. Try to get the wax to melt in a steady line down the length of the ski versus leaving wax blotches.

3. Work in Wax

Waxing Skis
Don’t let the iron sit in one spot for too long or else you might melt your base.Photo courtesy of Keri Bascetta
  1. Work the wax into the base by running the iron slowly from tip to tail until wax has completely melted and spread evenly across the base.
  2. Let cool for 30 minutes or until bases and top sheets are completely cool to the touch. 

4. Scrape and Brush

Wax being scraped off skis to shave off excess.
If you don’t have strong fingers, you will after a few scraping sessions.Photo courtesy of Keri Bascetta
  1. Apply the edge of the scraper to the base and working tip to tail, push or pull the scraper along the length of the ski to shave off excess wax. 
  2. Use a base brush to brush the bases tip to tail to remove any unbonded wax from the pores of the base’s plastic. 

Meet the technicians:

Leif Sunde and Sam Petty are highly experienced ski technicians who cofounded the Denver Sports Lab in Golden, Colo., to make Olympic-level tunes available to the public.