Green Ice Wax athletes Andy and Hayden ripping the terrain park at Snowbasin Resort.
Green Ice Wax athletes Andy and Hayden ripping the terrain park at Snowbasin Resort.
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.
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
Side beveling tool
As early as 2003, rocker skis and boards were introduced to the ski world. However, this technology is nothing new, as water skis and wake boards have taken advantage of the rocker design for many years. Recently, these skis/boards became increasingly popular. Now what is it that makes a rocker design and why is it effective?
First we must look at the traditional shapes available. Since the parabolic shape has become the standard, consider this ski/board as our basis. To describe rocker, a concept of camber must be understood. The traditional ski has a camber. While laying a ski/board riding side down on a flat surface, it can be seen that the center (under the binding) does not touch the underlying surface. Once pushed downward, the flex allows the board to touch. This upward curvature is called camber. It is the camber, in conjunction with the parabolic shape, which allows the rider to carve turns once on edge.
The newer design for skis/boards is rocker or reverse camber. Now if we do the same thing as with our traditional ski/boards and lay a rocker flat on the surface, the board will touch the underlying surface in the center. The ski/board will flare up at the tip and/or tail. Ski manufactures have produced many variations of rocker skis. The degree of rocker can be from extreme to moderate.
All skis including camber and rocker produce a rocker shape when pressure is applied while turning on edge. A traditional camber board puts more pressure on the tip and tail in the curve as it must flex in order to turn. A rocker ski/board requires less energy to initiate a turn. With the shape of the ski already in a “flexed” position, the ski engages more quickly and effortlessly.
By combining these technologies, manufactures have produced skis and boards that fit all types of terrain and riders abilities.
This gallery includes pictures and photo edits from the 2012/13 ski and board season. Overall, the season was a great experience for us at Green Ice Ski Wax. We had the opportunity to travel around the country, promoting the new brand and its values. We were lucky enough to ski at countless resorts, ranging from Blue Hills in Massachusetts to Sun Valley in Idaho. We hope to post some more pictures in the future. Here’s a few for you all to enjoy. Also, please follow us on Instagram and Twitter, @greeniceskiwax. Thanks for the support.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (Tm) 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.