Remember ROYGBIV, the colors of the rainbow? Well, light is composed of electromagnetic radiation having various wavelengths. The red color has the longest wavelength of the visible spectrum (the distance between the peak of one wave to that of the next). There are other types of electromagnetic radiation that we cannot see. For example, microwave, which has a relatively long wavelength compared to visible light. This radiation is used for cooking, thus the name microwave ovens. Wavelengths in between the red color and microwaves are called infrared. These wavelengths are usually emitted by heat producing objects such as outdoor heat lamps found at bars and restaurants.
Infrared (IR) technology is used in night vision, heating, cooking, wireless communication such as garage door openers and weather forecasting. Recently, doctors have suggested using IR lamps to help alleviate joint pain, muscle strains, skin rashes and other issues relating to eyes, nose, ears and sinuses. “This heat and other light frequencies improve circulation, hydration, oxygenation and often disable or weaken harmful microorganisms.”¹ IR heat penetrates deeply below the skin making it a highly effective technique.
For some time, ski technicians have been investigating and discussing the use of IR heating to apply wax. In fact, Reichmann (manufacturer of tuning and wax equipment) has introduced the Wall Speed system. It is a compact waxing machine which utilizes infrared heaters to insure a gentile but also intensive treatment. They claim the base is able to absorb more wax, which penetrates deeper and therefore increases service life.²
The GI team has investigated using IR heat instead of an iron using the follow method:
A standard 250 watt reddish heat lamp by FEIT $10-15 and clamp on lamp socket $10 -$20
Green Ice Wax GI 2000 warm safe and eco-friendly ski and snowboard wax available at www.greenicewax.com
Standard waxing nylon and horsehair brushes also available at www.greenicewax.com
Apply the wax to a previously cleaned ski by rubbing the wax on the base making sure the entire ski wax covered. Remove the excess wax with a soft clean cloth.
Turn on the lamp and allow it to heat up. Hold the lamp approximately 2-3 inches above the wax applied base. Allow the wax to melt and flow. As the wax melts move the lamp down the ski until the whole ski surface was treated.
Allow the wax to harden and cool.
Brush with a nylon and horsehair brush.
The temperature of the base did not exceed the melt temperature of the wax. In this case 120°F as measured with an Infrared thermometer.
Some advantages noted were that the base temperature could not overheat as the wax flowed evenly and was allowed to penetrate deeply. The temperature was consistent unlike like that of an iron’s temperature which fluctuates during application. Also since the lamp is held over the base, there is no contact and thus no chance to compromise the base material. The technique is fast as scrapping is not required and is safe because the wax does not fume.
This technique is not commonly used yet and is still under investigation as to its performance and durability. However, based on the experience of the GI team, it is worth further investigation and has promise as a clear choice for waxing skis and snowboards in the future. Green Ice Wax is an excellent of wax for infrared application as it has a low melting point and excellent flow characteristics.
1. “Single Red Heat Lamp Therapy”, Dr. Lawrence Wilson, Nov 15, LD Wilson Consulting, Inc.
2. Reichmann Ski and Board Tuning. Reichmann’s Wall Speed equipment http://www.reichmann-skiservice .com