Tag Archives: waxing

DemoDon’s XC Wax Review

demodon

As most skiers and racers understand, wax is most critical in Nordic skiing. Although speed is most important, it is necessary to be able to grip the snow when traveling up hill. While on the snow, cross country skiers will encounter various snow conditions. It is not uncommon to have soft snow in sunny areas and ice condition on the top of the course or trail.

Three advantages of using DemoDon’s Cross Country ski wax (made by Green Ice Wax) in the words of a Green Ice athlete are:

1. Skis run fast. Along with speed comes less effort to skiing.
2. They continue to run fast in the last half of the race or later in the day when other skiers had collected dirty skis with fluoro based wax. DemoDon’s wax stayed clean.
3. The kick wax, which is a tacky wax applied under the foot area of the ski, gripped well when stepping down and broke free to glide when speeding up again. This is critical as skiers do not want their wax to hold them back once they are back in the speed mode again.

DemoDon’s XC wax is available in a universal temperature, biodegradable glide and tack wax along with fluoro-free racer series designed for three different snow temperature conditions.

See http://www.greenicewax.com

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Interview with Devin Azevedo

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Rocker Skis and Boards

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?

1. Camber

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.

camber

2. Rocker

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.

rocker

By combining these technologies, manufactures have produced skis and boards that fit all types of terrain and riders abilities.

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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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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.

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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.

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