Learning how to wax your own skis or snowboard is a bit like learning how to make the perfect espresso. When you have the right know-how, it’s easier than you think, it’s cheaper than paying someone else to do it for you, and it’s super satisfying when you nail your technique.
Freshly waxed skis help you ski faster, but that’s not the only reason to wax your skis. If your skis are running well, it’s generally easier to turn and ski overall. Wax also protects your bases from oxidation (drying out).
Follow our ski wax guide to discover the fine art of waxing your own skis:
When to wax your skis or snowboard
When ski season is about to start, that’s your cue to apply glide wax. Throughout winter, you should also wax whenever your bases start to feel a little dry or look kind of chalky. Before you store your skis at the end of the season, give them a final wax prior to stashing them in your storage, garage or under your bed.
“Help keep your skis in good shape by wiping off the moisture and dirt as soon as you get home. Plus skis need to be dry for optimal waxing, so wiping them down starts the process.” – MEC Ambassador Roz Groenewoud
It’s a good idea to wax brand new skis before you take them out for their first rip. While it’s true that most skis come waxed from the manufacturer, it may have been a while between that factory tune and when you took them home. If you buy backcountry or downhill skis from MEC, 3 free ski waxes are included.
What you need to wax your skis or board
Gather up these ski waxing tools to get started:
- Ski waxing iron (highly recommended; cheap clothes irons don’t always hold steady temps so you run the risk of wrecking your skis)
- Glide wax rated for the temperature where you ski
- Set of brushes, usually a fine wire brush and a nylon or horsehair brush
- Cleaning cloths
- Cleaning solution
- Sturdy rubber bands
- Ski wax table or a steady surface and a couple stacks of books
- Plastic scraper at least 5mm thick
“Looking for ski waxes that are better for the environment? Toko wax has biodegradable, fluorine-free options. Some are even bluesign-approved®.” – Valerie P., MEC Director of Sustainability
How to wax your skis or snowboard
Watch our how to wax skis video to see the steps below in action:
- Place one ski on your work surface and use a rubber band to lock the brakes. Put down some old newspaper to prevent wax drips on your table or floor.
- Use a wire brush to remove visible dirt. Gently brush tip to tail (don’t scrub back and forth).
- Wipe down the ski using a clean cloth and base cleaning solution. A coffee filter works if you don’t have a Fibrelene cloth. Avoid paper towel since it can leave debris behind.
- Heat the iron so it’s just hot enough to melt the wax.
- Drip a line of wax on the ski from tip to tail. If the wax smokes, your iron is too hot – turn it down and let the iron cool. For fat skis or snowboards, drizzle back and forth along the base to cover the width.
- Work wax in with the iron from tip to tail, and keep the iron moving at an even speed. Never stop the iron in one place or you could damage or delaminate your skis. There should be about 7–12cm (3–5in.) of molten wax behind the iron. Make sure the wax reaches the edge of your ski; if it doesn’t, add more wax.
- Make 3–4 passes with the iron; the topsheet of your ski should feel warm to the touch. Let the ski return to room temp before you continue (usually about 30–60 minutes). This is a great time to repeat steps 1–7 with the other ski.
- Once cool, hold the scraper at a 45° angle and scrape from tip to tail. Move in long, overlapping strokes with firm pressure. Keep scraping until the wax starts coming off in curls and starts coming off as a fine powder.
- Remove wax from the edges using the short end of the scraper.
- Time for the finishing touch: brushing. Use the nylon brush to brush from tip to tail with even pressure until there’s no more wax dust.
- Make several passes with the horsehair brush to create a smooth finish.
- Flip the ski over, release the brakes and clean the topsheet.
- Repeat with the other ski, revel in your new skill, and check the snow forecast one more time.
“Backcountry skiers: it’s important to do a really good job of scraping and brushing your skis before using your skins. Otherwise wax from your base has the potential to foul up your skin glue.” – MEC Ambassador Nick Elson
If you’re still feeling hesitant about waxing skis yourself, come to an MEC ski waxing clinic in stores to ask any questions in person.