Category Archives: Reasons to Wax

Skiing and Riding on Artificial Snow Surfaces

Numerous ski areas across Europe and the Mid-East make winter sports available to athletes year round with the use of artificial snow surfaces. These regions experience little to no snow annually, making snow sports virtually impossible prior to the introduction of these man-made slopes. These regions include regions such as England, with more rain than snow, and have recently made their appearance in the United States. Below is a cross section and overview of the surface used to simulate a snow covered hill.

Artificial snow surfaces are gaining popularity in Virginia, Michigan and Connecticut. With the growing unpredictability of winter storms, these resorts are looking to expand beyond just the winter season. Green Ice Wax’s chemist paid a visit to a Connecticut facility to check out it out for himself. He found a surface comprised of plastic and containing silicone embedded in the polymer. The silicone reduces the friction and allows the ski or board to slide more freely.

“The material is quite hard and will be abrasive on skies or boards. However, the material’s ‘finger like’ design allows the skier to turn on edge.” – The Chemist

These resorts recommend that skiers and riders wear long sleeve shirts and long pants with elbow and knee pads , as well as gloves to protect in case of a fall. The hill also requires preparation to make for a smooth and cushioned ride. There are three layers of material under the snow surface. Two layers of a felt material which sandwich a plastic mesh and are then screwed into place on the hill.

fake snow 3

Since the plastic creates a coarse surface, riding on it generates high amounts of friction, and thus heat. Waxing skis will not totally protect the base, but will help performance on the hill. It is recommended to use a hard wax such as Green Ice Wax 1000 Cold. Be prepared for a damaged base, regardless of the quantity or hardness of the wax.

Artificial snow surfaces provide skiing and riding all year round. Racers can use the practice hill to increase stamina and muscle memory. The resort gains an advantage to start the snow ski season earlier as less snow will be required to cover the hill; there is no grass or rough terrain to cover.

Powder Ridge Mountain

Powder Ridge Mountain Resort

Anyone with experience on an artificial slope is welcome to leave us a comment! Let us know what you think and how your bases fared after a day on the (fake) snow!!

Advertisements

Tips for powder skiing

trav powder

You wake up on Tuesday morning and found 10 inches of fresh POW fell overnight. What do you do?

  1. Call in sick to work
  2. Break out the powder skis
  3. Rush to the mountain

Why a powder ski?

These skis are designed to keep the skiing on top of the snow. Depending on the type of powder ski, they can offer agility and maneuverability. They resemble water skis in shape, with a noticeably rockered nose to provide lift over the fresh snow. Their large width allows the ski to float over deep snow. They are usually fat, meaning having a waist of greater than 100mm and have reverse camber (the waist sits at the lowest point).

Now that you are at the mountain and geared up, make sure you understand the mountain terrain and understand the dangers associated with skiing on un-groomed terrain. Skiing powder has a different feel and does not behave the same as groomed trial, although the adrenaline rush of floating on the snow and the powder flying by makes it all worthwhile.

Here are some tips to ski powder.

  1. Maintain your balance. Keep equal pressure on both skis. Devin, a Green Ice Wax brand rep says “make a platform with your skis keeping weight distributed 50/50 over each ski” Keep the skis close together about shoulder width apart.
  2. Keep your hands up with your elbows in front of your torso. Do not lean back as you will lose balance.
  3. Keep your head up and do not pressure your edges as you normally would on groomed terrain. This will cause the one ski to dip further in the snow than the other.
  4. Maintain speed to keep from sinking and steer the skis into the fall line as you go down the mountain.
  5. Wax your skis. Powder tends to be more granular then groomed snow. The sharper the snow crystals, the more the need for wax. A sharp structure will cause more friction. Green Ice Wax makes safe and eco-friendly ski and snowboard wax which is long lasting and stands up to the rough shape of fresh “POW”.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Preparing for the Off-season

It’s that time of the year. We have changed our clocks and spring has begun. Mountain road bikes replace skis and snowboards. But before putting your equipment in the garage for the summer, remember properly stowing your equipment will make for a much easier transition come fall. The base is made of a plastic, which dries out over time. The steel edges will rust and pit, and the bindings can “gum up” and stick. In order to preserve your equipment’s integrity, it is recommended that you prepare your investments in the off season. We have put together five simple steps to protect your skis/board in the off season.

1. Wax the ski or board with a soft hydrocarbon wax. Be sure to cover the entire surface of the base. A soft iron-on wax like our GI HC warm or rub –on like our GI FE are of the best choices. Let the wax cool without scraping. Leaving a coat this coat of wax on the base for the summer will hold moisture in the plastic and keep the base from drying out.

2. Cover the edges with wax. If you used enough wax in step one the base, the edge will already have a decent amount of wax on it. To cover the remainder of the edge, rub the wax bar along the side edge. Be sure the wax is adhering to the steel. This will prevent oxygen from oxidizing with the steel edge, forming rust. If the edge rusts, the rust can begin to penetrate further into the steel. At this point, tuning and filing will not remove the rust causing a burr to remain on the edge.

3. Put the skis together using ski straps. If you do not have straps, a soft cloth wrapped with tape will suffice. This will keep the bases from rubbing against each other.

4. Cover the bindings. If you are looking to go the eco-friendly route (and we hope you do), find some used paper or plastic shopping bags to cover the bindings. Fix the bags to the skis with some tape. If you do not have any bags, plastic wrap from a local grocery store will suffice.

5. Store your equipment in a dry, clean area until next season.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Beveling the Edge of a Ski or Snowboard

Beveling the edge of a ski/snow board

When tuning a ski/board it is important to take care of the steel edges. The edges are filed and then polished with diamond stones of varying grit to remove burrs and harden the edge. To better understand why edges are beveled, it is important to understand what happens during the tuning process.

The diagram shows a cross section of an edge and each step of filing the base and side.

Image

As you can see both the edge and base where filed resulting in a different shape. Since 3 °were taken off the edge and the base the result was still a 90 °angle.

Base and side angle increase performance of the ski/board differently.  If the 90 °edge/base angle was not modified it would be very difficult to ski/ride. The skier/rider would constantly “catch edge” and have minimal control.  Also steel does not glide as smoothly as the polyurethane base. Therefore, the base angle must be modified to reduce friction. The side angle is modified to grip the ice or snow on turns.

The typical angles used by manufacturers and shops are a 92° side angle and a 1° base. However, skiers/riders can change these angle based on the conditions of the mountain or the type of skiing/riding.

Base beveling tool

Image

Side beveling tool

Image

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Preparing for the Snowboard Season

With the first snowfall in many places around the country, a lot of people are getting really excited to break out their snowboards and head to the mountains. A lot of people who snowboard will bring their board into the shop for a pre-season tune-up, in anticipation of the lifts starting to turn. It’s similar in the spring when people bring their bike to the shop for their annual tune-up, or every 2000 miles when they change the oil in their car. However, unlike when the gears are skipping on your bike or the odometer has added 2,000 miles, there isn’t exactly a super clear indicator of when a snowboard needs to be waxed. A quick look at the bottom of your board after a few days of riding it will reveal that is has changed color a little bit. A lot of snowboards have almost a straight black base, and the best indicator of when it’s time to wax is when it is getting a fuzzy white to them. Usually, this will start on the edges and work inwards. This is due to simply spending more time with weight on the edges, and can be thought of as how your tires might wear out on your car. Once this fuzziness starts to appear, it’s time to put some more wax on your snowboard to keep it happy. George, who is a very accomplished backcountry snowboarder, let us ask him a few questions. Here are his responses.

Do you wax your snowboard? How often?

“Yeah, I wax my board once every three or four times I go out or whenever the snow temperature or type changes dramatically. Fresh fallen snow is far different than snow that has been sitting on the ground for a few days. It makes a big difference.”

What’s the biggest and most important difference that you find after you wax your board?

“Consistency of speed and knowing what to expect while riding. The value here depends on what you are riding. If you’re riding park with a dry base on either really cold or really warm snow, you’re going to case jumps and knee yourself in the face. Sadness will ensue. Likewise, if you’re making a big traverse or trying to ride out flats at a resort in the wrong type of snow, you’re going to get stuck and have to unstrap and push. Once again, sadness will ensue. Basically, keep your board well-maintained and you’ll enjoy yourself a lot more.”

Do most of your friends who snowboard regularly wax their snowboards? Do you think they should?

“It’s about a 50/50 split, and I’m always telling the ones who don’t maintain their stuff that they should. It really isn’t that hard.”

You’ve snowboarded on a freestyle team and down some really impressive mountains like Mt. Rainier. Do you think that beginners should wax their snowboards?

“Once I started tuning my own equipment, I definitely saw in improvement an my ability. It just made things way easier, and instead of fighting the board, I was more with the board and could focus more on getting better. Happiness ensued after that, and every time one of my friends starts getting into snowboarding or skiing, I offer to help teach them to maintain their own equipment.”

George really sums it up well. By maintaining your equipment, you can access more terrain, go bigger in the park, and overall have more fun and be a better rider. Whether you bring your stuff to a shop or do it at home, it’s really important to keep your equipment well-maintained.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Preparing for the Season

The leaves are changing, the air is cooling off, and girls are switching from shorts to yoga pants, but most importantly, snow is on its way. With the snow comes the most important time of the year, ski season. A lot of people who enjoy skiing or snowboarding will bring their gear to a shop to get ready in the beginning of the season. It’s similar in the spring when people bring their bike to the shop for their annual tune-up, or every 2000 miles when they change the oil in their car. However, unlike when the gears are skipping on your bike or the odometer has added 2000 miles, there isn’t exactly a super clear indicator of when skis need to be waxed. When your skis are inside, they are usually stored base to base, and when they’re on the snow, they are base side down. A quick look at the bases after a few days of skiing on them will reveal that they have changed color a little bit. A lot of skis have almost straight black bases, and the best indicator of when it’s time to wax is when they are getting a fuzzy white to them. Usually, this will start on the edges and work inwards. This is due to simply spending more time with weight on the edges, and can be thought of as how your tires might wear out on your car. Once this fuzziness starts to appear, it’s time to put some more wax on your skis to keep them happy.

A question that may arise if you take a look at your bases and they’re starting to look fuzzy might be “They don’t feel like they need wax, why do I need to wax them? I already had them waxed this year.” Well, the answer to that is because it’s a more gradual transition than the odometer hitting another 2000 or the gears on your bike starting to suddenly skip everywhere. In this case, the snow is like sand paper and the wax in your skis is the wood. One swipe of sand paper won’t make much of a difference, but after a few days of sanding, there will be a noticeable difference. The piece of wood will be smaller and smoother, and that translates to fuzzy looking and slower for skis.

Not everybody is a speed demon. If you enjoy skiing for the shear pleasure of spending time outdoors or with friends or family and have no need to go fast, then you might need a little bit extra energy at the end of the day to toast to a great day of skiing. Waxing your skis or board will give you that extra bit. Speed on skis is usually interpreted as how fast somebody is moving forwards. However, it also applies to sideway motion. While turning or stopping, there is sideways motion, and if your skis have no wax, then there will me more energy spent trying to get your skis or board to move sideways. Gravity pulls you down the hill, your legs move you from side to side on the hill. By keeping your skis or board waxed, you spend less energy. Less time spent telling your buddies that you’re “going to the bathroom” as an excuse for a break and more time spent actually skiing.

Another reason to wax your skis or board is the simple fact that it keeps your gear happy. If you run your car with nasty oil or ride your bike with skipping gears for a while without doing a simple maintenance routine, your car will break down on the free way or your bike chain will snap in the middle of nowhere. Skis won’t fail you should you decide to not wax them, but there won’t be nearly as much joy garnered from the use of unwaxed skis. Also, they will look much cleaner. The fuzziness will go away and small scratches will be very temporarily filled. Larger scratches should be repaired properly.

Waxing your skis or snowboard more often than once a year may seem expensive if you bring them to a shop every time or a hassle if you are more inclined to do it yourself. When going to a shop, don’t ask for a “tune up”, see if they offer a “wax only” or similar option. If doing it yourself is more appealing, try and find a friend to show you the basics. Either way, regularly waxed skis and snowboards are much more fun and easier to use than annually or never maintained gear.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Reason to Wax: New Skis

New skis need an initial tune up. Certain aspects of the ski need to be checked or modified before skiing. First, check to see if the polyethylene bases are square. A True-bar can aid in checking to see if the bases are concave or convex. Ideally, the bases should be completely flat. If not, you might need to scrape or file to get the bases flat. Next, you will need to tune the edges. Check with the manufacturer to determine the factory angle settings, and then tune to your desired angle if necessary.

Finally, the bases must be tuned (Reason to Wax: Base Construction). Typically, it is not necessary to alter the ski structure, as the manufactures apply structure to the base quite well. However, it is important to scrub the base with Fibertex (resembles a Scotch Brite pad) and stiff brass brush; alternate between rubbing the pad and brush for about 100 passes. Through this process, you will remove the microscopic polyethylene hairs, which could drag on the snow or melt into the ski base when applying hot wax.

Additionally prior to first use, the skis should already contain wax.  If wax already saturates the ski, you do not need to worry should the top layer wear off over the course of daily use. This embedded layer of wax provides extended protection for the base to prevent oxidizing, or turning chalky white, as well as damage from UV Light. This embedded layer also protects against dirt that tends to stick to the base over time.

So now it is time to wax. First, hot-scrape the base in order to clean any fibers and dirt left from brushing. Next, apply a hydrocarbon wax such as Green Ice Ski Wax GIHC warm. Soft waxes are recommended as they penetrate the base more easily (visit How to Hot Wax for an instructional video). Now, some experts prefer to have their skis placed in a hot box for 2-4 hours. Temperature for the hot box ranges from 50-55˚C depending on the wax’s melting point. During the process, the wax slowly and deeply penetrates the pores of the base, allowing it to become saturated with the molten wax. If a hot box is not available or desired, simply repeat the process of applying thin layers of GI HC warm, followed by a cold-scrape and brush. Repeating this process multiple times will better prepare the base for a final wax application of a performance wax such as GI-1000 or GI-2000 available at Green Ice Ski Wax.

Now go hit the slopes, have fun and enjoy your new skis!

Tagged , , , , , , ,

From Pine Tar to Advanced Chemical Additives

Pine Tar Waxes

Going way back to the late 1600’s, Scandinavians discovered the need to condition their wooden skis.  At that time, the main reason to condition or wax the skis was to prevent the wood from becoming soaked with water.  When wood is exposed to water over time, it becomes saturated. In order to prevent this process from occurring, skiers began to coat the ski bottoms with pine tar or pitch.  Distilling lumber produces pitch, turpentine and rosin.  It is the combination of the rosin and pitch that produced an ideal ski wax for the wooden bases.   The mixture was insoluble in water and thus would prevent the water from penetrating the ski’s base.  The mixture also formed tiny water beads under the ski when gliding of the snow.  It is this action that allows air to mix with the water and thus reduce the friction under the ski.  The down side of the mixture was that it was not entirely smooth and thus added resistance to the ski.  Later, athletes discovered that by boiling the pine tar it could be applied evenly to the ski, reducing the friction created by the pine tar itself.  This mixture of pine tar and rosin remained popular for many years, up until about the 1850s, when a few California athletes developed innovative mixtures of glycerin, whale oils, and candle waxes to increase glide and improve water repellency.

Varnish Based Waxes

Between 1920 and 1940, companies began experimenting with varnish waxes.  Some waxes were intended to last entire seasons, while others introduced by companies such as Holmenkol and Toko were rubbed directly onto the base and lasted about a day on the snow.  They were not applied by heat like the long-lasting waxes and were by-products of other industries, such a leather manufacturers.

Synthetic Waxes

In 1943 a Swedish firm, Astra AB, hired Martin Matsbo, a cross country Olympic bronze medal winner to develop a synthetic wax made from paraffin.  Then in 1946, Swix Wax Company took shape and began using this technology to manufacture wax with different hardness ratings intended for varying temperature snow.

Over the next 20-30 years, various additives were used to further reduce friction. Examples of additives include graphite, surfactants and plasticizers.  There was a time when ski manufacturers touted ski bases that never required waxing.  Athletes never bought into these claims, and continued to apply wax in order to protect their bases.   For this reason, the ski wax industry has grown into a $10MM market in the United States, and totals $25MM worldwide.

Fluorocarbon Wax

Not until the late 1980s did fluorocarbons enter the ski wax.  This additive helps to increase the level of water repellency.  Although the additive inflates prices significantly, many skiers and riders use it today.

As a response to the introduction of fluorocarbon ski wax, Green Ice Ski Wax has introduced an environmentally-friendly alternative, containing additives that are bio-degradable and very effective.  The wax maintains high levels of water repellency, without the harmful effects of fluorocarbons (See Effects of Fluorocarbons in Ski Wax on Humans and the Environment ) Green-Ice also sells a 100% biodegradable wax, made entirely from renewable resources.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Reasons to Wax: Base Construction

In order to understand proper ski or snow board waxing techniques, it is important to understand the composition of the base.  High density polyethylene is a widely used polymer, typically referred to as “plastic”.  Polyethylene is inert to the majority of chemicals, but also considered to quite soft.  Polyethylene does not absorb moisture (hydrophobic) and can be shaped to form structure on the surface of the base, making it perfect for constructing ski and snowboard bases.  However, the softness also has a downside.  It can scratch, gouge or pick up dirt.  Ski shops may repair any damages incurred on a base with P-Tex or a weld, depending on the severity of the defect.

Ski manufacturers create bases with fine polyethylene powder, which is heated and pressed into shape through a process called sintering. A structure of fine grooves is then added to the base in order to channel the water from the tip to tail of the ski or board as it glides over the snow, a concept similar to that of the treads of a car’s tire.

Even though polyethylene is quite inert, it can still oxidize and form a white chalky layer when exposed to ultra-violet light.  This oxidation can cause the ski or board base to become brittle and crack.  Over-heating the base, such as during the waxing process, can also harm the polyethylene and structure of the base. A crystal structure in the polyethylene is formed during the manufacturing process, and adding too much heat can change this structure and make it amorphous (not crystalline).

Two physical properties of interest when considering the right polyethylene for a ski or snowboard base is the thermal glassy transition temperature (Tg) and the temperature at which the material melts (Tm).  Tg is the temperature at which the plastic is in a molten, or rubber-like, state.  Polyethylene’s Tg is -125°C.  Generally, lower Tg temperatures signify softer plastics.  Harder more brittle plastics will correspond with a higher Tg .  On the other hand, the melting point of polyethylene (T) dependents on the density.  High density polyethylene’s melting point ranges from 248°C to 266°C, while low density polyethylene Tm ranges from 221°C to 239°C. These two properties of the polyethylene will determine the flexibility and durability of the plastic.

Knowing the composition and properties of the ski or board’s base helps to understand the importance of waxing.  Waxing will prevent the board or ski from oxidizing.  The wax will provide a layer of protection on the base that will prevent the UV light from destroying the polyethylene.  Wax will also prevent dirt off from coming in direct contact with the base.  However, it is critical that wax is applied properly and frequently.  If the iron-on technique is used to wax the ski, one should closely monitor the temperature of the iron.  Too much heat can damage the base of the ski or board.  Although the melting temperature is generally much higher than the iron temperature, applying excessive amounts of heat for long periods of time (i.e. holding the iron in one place on the base) will cause the structure of the base to become amorphous and softer. Therefore, set the iron temperature to the wax’s specific melting point and keep the iron moving constantly when applying the wax to the base.

For those technicians that feel the direct heat from the iron to the ski or board’s base is detrimental to the structure, an alternative technique exists.  Once the wax is melted and dripped to the base, a piece of parchment paper (available from the grocery store in the isle near the aluminum foil) can be placed over the base. Then, place the iron on top of the parchment paper and melt the wax further, while spreading the wax across the entirety of the ski or board.  When finished ironing in the wax, leave the paper in place until the wax hardens completely.  It can then be removed easily, as wax will not stick to parchment paper.  In addition to the protection feature of the parchment paper, it also hold in the heat longer and forces the wax to cool at a slower rate.  This increases the wax’s penetration into the pores of the base.  This is a similar theory to using a “hot box” to keep the wax softer for longer, while it penetrates the pores and cracks in the polyethylene.

Green Ice Ski Wax is available in various grades of waxes to suit the needs of any skier or rider. These waxes apply easily and safely using either iron-on or rub-on techniques with no threat to the health of the athlete.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Reasons to Wax Skis and Snowboards

Most ski and snowboard racers understand the importance of prepping their equipment; however, some recreational skiers feel that this process is not critical.  All skis and snowboards require some sort of waxing after a few days of skiing or riding.  In the current market, there are a variety of options available when it comes to tuning and waxing products.  You can spend the time and money required to take your equipment to the local ski shop, or you can prep the equipment yourself.   Waxing yourself is less time-consuming, self-gratifying and simple. Basically, there are two types of waxing techniques: iron-on and rub-on. Most racers and serious skiers prefer ironing the wax onto the base as it tends to penetrate into the ski base, providing longer lasting performance and protection.  This process requires the purchase more equipment such as irons, scrapers and a series of brushes. Another technique is rub-on.  This process is less expensive and simple to do.  The wax is applied directly to the base of the ski or board without adding heat, then rubbed in with a cork, and finally buffed smooth with a rag.  The downside is that the base does not get penetrated with wax and it does not usually last as long, but the simplicity of the process allows for the wax to be applied as many times as desired throughout the course of the day.

Now, why should you wax your ski or board?  First, as most racers know, wax reduces friction between the base of the ski or board and the snow. Reducing friction allows for your skis or board to glide faster, which in a competitive event could mean the difference between a win and a loss.  As mentioned before, most racers prefer ironing the wax on the ski base over the rub-on procedure.  Green Ice Ski Wax manufactures two non-fluorocarbon race waxes in addition to the traditional hydrocarbon wax. These waxes have proven to be fast and long-lasting, reducing friction between the skis and the snow without the negative health and environmental effects of waxing with fluorocarbon waxes.

Second, ski and board bases are constructed of plastics.  All plastics can dry out as plasticizers (chemicals that keep plastics soft and flexible) can leach out over time.  As the plasticizers dry out, the base can turn white and chalk.  If this happens, the base becomes more brittle and can eventually crack under the constant pressure of carving turns while skiing and riding.  Waxing periodically can prevent the drying out of the ski base, helping to give the equipment a longer life.

Additionally, wax penetrates and protects the base, keeping it coated and lubricated so the friction of riding does not wear the base, but instead wears the wax.  Wax can be replaced easily while the ski or board base can only be replaced with the purchase of new equipment.

Snow can acquire dirt as particles from trees or chemicals in man-made snow accumulate on the trails.  After riding or skiing a day in dirty snow, the bases become dirty themselves.  Waxing helps clean the base and prevent sticking.  The dirt particles in the snow also rub harshly on the base, speeding up the wear process.

Finally, before putting skis or boards away for the off-season, the equipment should be properly prepared.  Applying a good coat of wax helps prevent the bases from drying out during the period of storage.  Wax coating the edges can also help prevent rust from forming on the metal, and thus providing overall protection for your equipment.

Green Ice Ski Wax manufactures and sells both rub-on and iron-on waxes at a variety of performance levels.  All Green Ice Ski Wax products are environmentally-friendly.  The iron-on waxes are safe to apply and long-lasting. The rub-on wax is made from organic, renewable raw materials, making it 100% biodegradable.

Tagged , , , , , ,
Advertisements