Category Archives: Alternative to Fluorocarbon

DemoDon’s XC Wax Review

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As most skiers and racers understand, wax is most critical in Nordic skiing. Although speed is most important, it is necessary to be able to grip the snow when traveling up hill. While on the snow, cross country skiers will encounter various snow conditions. It is not uncommon to have soft snow in sunny areas and ice condition on the top of the course or trail.

Three advantages of using DemoDon’s Cross Country ski wax (made by Green Ice Wax) in the words of a Green Ice athlete are:

1. Skis run fast. Along with speed comes less effort to skiing.
2. They continue to run fast in the last half of the race or later in the day when other skiers had collected dirty skis with fluoro based wax. DemoDon’s wax stayed clean.
3. The kick wax, which is a tacky wax applied under the foot area of the ski, gripped well when stepping down and broke free to glide when speeding up again. This is critical as skiers do not want their wax to hold them back once they are back in the speed mode again.

DemoDon’s XC wax is available in a universal temperature, biodegradable glide and tack wax along with fluoro-free racer series designed for three different snow temperature conditions.

See http://www.greenicewax.com

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Green Ice Wax Endorses Nate Holland

Green Ice Wax introduces Nate Holland’s N8 wax. This wax is biodegradable and is available as a rub on and iron on wax. The eco-friendly aspect aligns closely with Nate Holland’s attitude towards preserving the envrionment. Nate Holland won 7 X Games gold medals in boarder cross, so he understands the importance of a high quality performance ski and board wax. The environmentally friendly wax is made from renewable resources such as plant waxes and oils. It helps reduce the carbon footprint by no longer using solvent, plastisizers or any petroleum by-products. These attributes eliminate the harmful effects on the user associated with applying iron-on waxing containing flurocarbons. More information on these harmful side effects can be found in our blog .

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“I’m excited to be a part of Green Ice Wax.  As an environmentally minded snowboarder, it is a pleasure to introduce a fast, biodegradable, earth friendly wax to the world.  I can’t wait to raise my board on the podium with Green Ice Wax shimmering on my base, knowing that I didn’t leave any toxic residue on the mountain.” – Nate Holland

More information on Green Ice Wax’s newest product line, N8, is available online at http://greenicewax.com/collections/signature-series.

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Dangers of Fluorocarbons

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In the past twenty years, controversy has arisen surrounding the environmental and health dangers of ski wax containing fluorocarbons.  Fluorocarbon wax was believed for years to be an inert particle, one that does not pose a major threat to the human body or to the environment.  However, recent studies suggest that the particles found in wax can actually break down during the application process.  The result is a smaller molecule, one that the human body struggles to break filter out from the air.

This creates the first issue of using fluorocarbon ski wax when preparing ski and snowboard equipment for use.  The applicator of the wax puts himself in a potentially dangerous situation, especially if the work area is not well-ventilated.  When the particles of the wax are broken down into smaller microbes as a result of overheating, the air becomes contaminated with particles too small to be filtered by the lungs. Studies show that elevated perfluorocarboxylate levels exist in humans that frequently use fluorocarbon ski wax (112 ng/mL compared to 2.5 ng/mL).  Any particles that are not released into the air remain on the base of the ski or snowboard.

The particles remaining on the base of the ski or board are then transported to the mountain.  When the equipment glides over the ground the snow underneath temporarily melts, creating a water surface.  In the process, the small microbes transfer from the base of the ski or board into the water, and then refreeze in the snow.  They remain on the mountain for the next few months, as the concentration increases as more riders visit the resort.  As the weather gets warmer, the contaminated snow from the ski slopes melts and the water flows downhill.  The microbes remain the water, and are responsible for significantly higher fluorocarbon content in rivers and lakes in close proximity to ski resorts.

Popular ski wax brands, such as Swix and Dominator, have published responses to these arguments against the fluorocarbon waxes.  Instead of developing waxes containing safer chemicals with similar water-repellency properties, they have released articles that explain how to correctly use the wax.  These articles state that the application process should take place in an area with very effective ventilation, and the user should always wear a mask.  Using chemicals that require a mask does not seem safe for the average consumer.  Additionally, this does not deal with the environmental issue at hand.

Even if the user is protected from the potentially dangerous release of toxic particles, they still find their way into the snow and eventually into the streams.  The fish and other animals living in the environment cannot simply put on a respirator to protect themselves from overexposure to chemicals not occurring naturally in their living space.  Therefore, the response to the problem at hand isn’t correctly applying the wax, but instead switching to an environmentally friendly wax solution that promotes sustainable, biodegradable compounds not derived from petroleum by-products containing fluorocarbons.

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Wax Technology

It is always good to start with the basics. Skis or snow boards do not ride on snow! They ride on water. As a ski slides over snow, friction melts a thin layer of the snow, turning it into water over which your ski/board glides.  The water then re-freezes after the ski/board has passed, leaving a fresh track on the trail.

Ski/board’s bases are made of plastic (usually polyethylene) with a specially-designed structure.  This structure helps channel the water from the tip to the tail of the ski as you ski/ride down the hill. The idea here is to reduce the friction causing the ski to glide more easily and with less friction.  Less friction means more speed.

Wax is used to reduce this friction even further, and preserve the integrity and structure of the ski. Over the years, typical waxes have been made from paraffin wax (a product derived from petroleum).  As skiers became more conscious of the benefits of wax, wax formulators introduced additives into their products, such as fluorocarbons. These chemicals are excellent in reducing friction having a very low coefficient of friction. Overall, fluorocarbon waxes are great; however, they are dangerous to your health if you happen to breathe in the fumes during application. They hurt the environment, introducing fluorine into the snow.  As for high fluorinated waxes, most skiers will not even experience the full benefit of the wax because they are designed specifically for high-humidity snow conditions. Additionally, these waxes are very costly.

To combat these shortcomings of highly-fluorinated and potentially dangerous waxes, we borrowed a technology from the cosmetic industry.

This additive is not hazardous to your health and is more eco-friendly. Its coefficient of friction is very close to fluorocarbon, making it an excellent replacement additive. Both GI1K and 2K utilize this technology. The GI2K contains a highly advanced polymer which makes it more durable and longer lasting.

If you were wondering why waxes are made to perform at different temperature snow conditions, the reason is simple: The colder the snow, the harder the crystals. It is most beneficial to use a wax with a hardness matching that of the snow. Therefore, all Green Ice ski waxes have been formulated with differing levels of hardness.  If however, the snow conditions will be unknown, choose the middle temperature wax (18-28 degrees F) as this wax will suffice for most conditions a rider/skier experiences.

Green Ice 1K and 2K waxes have been proven to be very durable. They last longer than average fluorocarbon waxes and tend not to whiten the base of the board or ski. They perform well in all humidity conditions. Green ice 2K has excellent static and dynamic properties. There is minimal stick upon take off and your skis will glide over any terrain the mountain throws at you.

Finally our Green Ice Ultimate ski wax is 100% safe for the environment. We borrowed the plant waxes used in the automobile industry to create an environmentally friendly wax with plant bi-products as the only raw materials. Green Ice Ultimate uses absolutely no chemicals, solvents or plasticizers, only pure natural materials made from plants. Green ice Ultimate also incorporates a natural friction reducing additive, making it an excellent race wax or everyday recreational formula.

In summary:  Green Ice ski waxes are more durable and longer lasting. They work over a wide range of snow temperatures and in all humidity conditions.  They are also eco-friendly and do not require a respirator to make the application process safe.  Finally you will find them a cost effective wax solution for all skiing and riding levels.

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Effects of Fluorocarbons in Ski Wax on Humans and the Environment

Stability Concerns of Fluorinated hydrocarbons

Fluorinated hydrocarbons (FOC’s) are molecules which contain carbon-fluorine (C-F) bonds. FOC’s have been used over several decades in a variety of industrial products. Some include pesticides, lubricants, refrigerants, paints, drugs and ski and snowboard waxes.

As with all larger polymeric molecules, it originally was believed that larger fluorinated hydrocarbons were inert and did not pose any threats.  New research suggests otherwise.  The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a report indicating “FOC’s are not biologically inert and exhibit toxic effects on humans and animals and impact the overall ecosystem health.” There is now evidence that microbes are capable of degrading and detoxifying fluorinated hydrocarbons, as well as the potential for enzyme systems to break carbon fluorine bonds exist in the molecules. As a result, the inert molecules, once described as harmless, can actually break down into smaller, toxic molecules through ordinary processes.

Not only do microbes and enzymes break down the fluorocarbons, but Ultraviolet (UV) Light and heat can do the same. Overheating a fluorinated ski or snowboard wax with a standard waxing iron will break down the larger molecules in a manner similar to the microbes. Since UV Light works the same, any wax left on the hill will break down over time.  These smaller particles remain in the snow, and as the snow melts they find their way to streams, lakes, and oceans.

Environmental Impact

To make fluorinated Hydrocarbons polymers used in ski wax, smaller molecules of FOC’s are used as precursors. Many studies found traces of these precursors in food, human blood,  and human milk. Surprisingly high concentrations were determined in fish, seals, sea birds and even in polar bears from the Arctic. It is not fully understood how the pollutants travel around the world, but the pattern suggests that waterways act as an excellent means of transportation.

Many manufacturers use these precursors in the production of fluorinated ski waxes, and therefore are susceptible to the degradation by UV Light, heat, and enzymes.  As a result, these ski and snowboard waxes might be considered a cause for pollution.

Effects on Humans and Animals

These smaller fluorinated hydrocarbons can also accumulate inside the human body.  High levels of the molecules can be toxic and have negative health effects.  Data from animal studies indicate that they can cause several types of tumors and neonatal death.  Traces of toxicity were also found in the immune, liver, and endocrine systems.

Additionally, the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for Teflon (PTFE), another fluorocarbon, requires that no smoking occur in areas where the material is stored or handled. Inhalation of fumes can cause the temporary condition of “Polymer Fume Fever”, with flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, and malaise.

There have been reports that ski wax technicians working for World Cup Race teams possessing median levels of one compound specific to fluorocarbons that were 45 times higher than the general population. Exposure could be risky, especially to thousands of junior ski racers and parents who wax with fluorinated ski waxes day after day without the proper precautions.

Alternative waxes

As a result of the possible environmental and health effects associated with fluorinated ski wax, some alternative ski and snowboard waxes have been formulated. Green Ice Ski Wax has a fluoro-free race wax, which has been proven to be equally as effective without any issues.  They also sell a 100% biodegradable wax available which eliminates the negative health and environmental impacts entirely.

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