Tag Archives: snowboard wax

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.

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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

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Side beveling tool

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Pictures from the 2013 Season

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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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!

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