Wax for alpine skiing: which one to select?

Every season starts, people ask themselves the same question: why do you have to wax your skis? Snow is already slippery, isn't it? An excellent point, but the perfect combination of the snow and the base of your skis is the key to having good control of your equipment on the slopes.


A type of wax (wax) appropriate for the weather conditions gives your skis faster-gliding properties. With so many alternative options possible on the market, it can be a bit confusing to figure out which wax would be best for you.

This article will encourage you to discover the reasons for waxing your skis and help you make an informed decision about which wax to buy.


Why wax your skis?


You need to wax your skis (or your snowboard) for two fundamental reasons:


  1. Speed ​​and Performance: Even if you are a beginner, you will enjoy a smoother slope experience. Plus, waxing your skis allows you to glide faster on snow by repelling water and preventing snow from sticking to the sole of your skis.
  2. Maintenance and Longevity: Wax can't prevent you from nicks caused by exposed rocks on the trails, but it will seal the soles to keep them from drying out and allow them to last longer.


What happens if you don't wax your skis?

Over time, without waxing, the base of your skis (or snowboard) will start to dry out and whiten, almost as if the color of your base is fading. As it continues to dry, the base may shrink.

How often do you wax your skis?

There is no one official answer to how often you should wax your skis, but here are some practical tips:


  • Wax if you are skiing in a new area where the snow is drier or wetter than your familiar mountain.
  • Powder lover? Wax more often if you ski regularly in powder as the wax wears out faster.
  • Wax off if you detect a pronounced chalky gray residue on the soles of your skis.
  • Re-wax whenever you feel the snow is getting sticky.
  • Wax again at the end of the ski season to prevent the soles from drying out when storing your gear.


Wax 101 for waxing alpine skis


This winter, get a wax iron, some wax, and have some fun. For step-by-step instructions, there are several online tutorials on the most effective techniques for waxing skis. Also, consult our article Everything you need to know about ski waxing to learn more about the technique.


How do you choose the perfect wax?

One of the first things to consider in choosing wax remains the temperature range on the days you will be skiing. Snow is usually a few degrees cooler than the ambient temperature during the day and a few degrees milder than the air temperature at night. Most waxes have an overlapping temperature range between these two opposites.


This does not mean that a skier needs all types of temperatures available. Most of the mountains fluctuate between two or three of the beaches. The important thing is to take your usual weather into account when selecting waxes for the season.


On top of that, many universal waxes offer standard glide properties, but waxes with a specific temperature range will provide the best glide properties.


Here are the most popular forms of wax:


The wax bar

For longevity and better gliding performance, bar wax is a must. Thanks to the heat, the product will penetrate the sole of your skis, will attach better to the surface, and will show more significant resistance over time.


Its application requires more equipment and know-how.

Liquid wax

For a quick and clean application, liquid wax is arguably the most convenient. Often without fluorine, gasoline, or solvent, these waxes are known to be the most eco-responsible.


Easy to apply, the wax is applied directly to the sole of your skis for complete penetration. It is ideal for beginners who want to maintain their equipment on their own, or for frequent travelers who don't want to bother with all the maintenance gear.


Rather, it's considered a top-up wax, for mid-season maintenance to patch up a few scratches before spring.


The lifespan and effectiveness of this top-up wax are significantly limited.


Spray wax

Spray wax is typically used over multiple coats of premium bar wax to optimize glide properties. Once sprayed, the wax is absorbed and should dry for about 5 minutes before being polished.


Spray wax can sometimes be found in very basic waxes but is usually found in high-end finishing racing wax as an overlay.


Select the color of the wax according to the snow conditions.

In addition to the various shapes, you will have to choose between a universal, colored, or fluorinated wax. Their effects are different depending on the type of snow. Universal wax is the most versatile. It, therefore, simplifies things a lot, because it adapts to all conditions.


The wax manufacturers have established a color code that makes it easy to differentiate each wax according to the humidity and temperature at which we want to glide on the snow.


For a more precise glide, you should select two to three colored waxes to adapt them to the weather. This implies you will have to repeat the waxing several times during the season.


The objective: to maximize sliding comfort depending on the season.


  • White or colorless wax: universal wax;
  • Blue wax: Very cold snow/between -10 ° C and -30 ° C;
  • Violet wax: Cold snow/between -5 ° C and -12 ° C;
  • Red wax: Standard snow/between -4 ° C and +4 ° C;
  • Yellow wax: Wet snow/between -4 ° C and +20 ° C.


How much to pay for your alpine ski wax?

The cost of the wax principally depends on the fluorocarbon content of the bar. Most waxes use a hydrocarbon or fluorocarbon composition to determine water repellency (which repels water). This characteristic is crucial because when the ski slides on the snow, it melts it by creating a water suction.


Conclusion: the more water-repellent the wax, the faster the ski can slide.


For the practical and economical side, we can fall back on the universal wax, which covers a wide range of temperatures and thus a majority of the situations.


Entry-level waxes are between $8 and $15 per 60-gram bar. They are made of hydrocarbons which are the least water-repellent of the materials used.


The higher the level of fluorocarbons in the composition of the wax, the more the price will increase accordingly.


Low fluorocarbon waxes tend to remain the choice of advanced to experienced skiers looking for a clean glide without breaking the bank ($ 20 - $35 per 60-gram bar) and as a training wax for races.


Maintenance, waxing, storage... the advantages of taking care of your skis

You will understand that the type of snow, the temperatures, and the time you spend on maintaining your skis will determine the wax you need. Wax breaks down into a multitude of products. A link between the ski and the snow, wax represents an essential element for ensuring optimal glide. Liquid or bar, fluorinated or not, colored or universal, the choice of a type of wax depends on your use, the quality of the snow, and your waxing know-how. By adopting a maintenance routine for your ski equipment, you will ensure its longevity and even more fun on the slopes! 

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