Tag Archives: safe ski wax

Using infrared heat to wax skis and snowboards 

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:

Equipment:

 A standard 250 watt reddish heat lamp by FEIT $10-15 and clamp on lamp socket $10 -$20

infrared-bulbinfrared-light

Green Ice Wax GI 2000 warm safe and eco-friendly ski and snowboard wax available at www.greenicewax.com

pink-wax

Standard waxing nylon and horsehair brushes also available at www.greenicewax.com

 nylon-brush

Procedure:

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.

Observations:

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.

See www.greenicewax.com 

 

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

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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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