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Do You Need to Wax New Skis?

You just got a new pair of skis and you’re pretty excited to try them out on snow. But just as you’re loading your gear into the car to take off for the mountains, a question stops you in your tracks: Do new skis need to be waxed?

I’ll answer that question and everything else you need to know about waxing skis in this guide. I’ll also explain how to wax your skis to keep them performing their best in any snow conditions.

Do New Skis Need to Be Waxed?

The short answer to this question is yes, you should wax new skis before you take them out.

New skis receive a coat of wax before they leave the factory, but they likely came off the assembly line months ago. In the meantime, they’ve been stored in a warehouse, sitting out at your local ski shop, or even shipped in a cardboard box. The factory wax is likely dried out, and your new skis could benefit from a fresh coat.

On top of that, different types of snow demand different wax. There’s cold temperature wax for temps below 25°F and warm temperature wax for temps above 25°F. You don’t know which type of wax the factory applied, so it’s a good idea to apply the right wax for the conditions you plan to ski before you head out.

If you buy your skis from a local shop, ask if they’ll wax your skis as part of your purchase. Many offer this service for free since brand new skis are a big purchase.

Why Do You Need to Wax Skis?

Waxing your skis is incredibly important to getting the best performance on the slope. That’s because when you’re skiing, it’s the wax layer that’s directly in contact with the snow. Fresh wax provides better glide, giving you more control and a smoother descent.

Waxing your skis is also important to protect the base materials. Ski bases are susceptible to drying out if they’re not waxed frequently, and that can eventually lead to cracking. Cracking in turn allows water to get into the ski core, potentially ruining your skis.

Wax also helps to keep moisture from getting under your edges. That prevents rust and helps keep your edges tuned for optimal carving.

How Often Should You Wax Your Skis?

Your skis will always perform best when they have a fresh coat of wax. Most advanced skiers apply wax every single day, or even sometimes when they break for lunch.

You can’t over-wax your skis, so more frequent waxing is better than not waxing enough.

My rule of thumb is to wax my skis after every three or four days I spend skiing. If you’re less worried about performance, waxing every seven or eight outings should be fine. 

One thing to remember is that you should always wax your skis at the start and end of the season. Waxing at the end of the season adds a protective coat that keeps your bases from drying out during the summer. That wax will be pretty dried out by December, so add a new coat before you take your skis out for the first day of the season.

How to Wax Your Skis in 4 Steps

You can take your skis to the shop to be waxed, but that gets expensive quickly. You can get a waxing iron and a complete waxing kit for less than $50. It only takes about 30 minutes to wax your skis and the process is really simple.

Here’s how to wax your skis at home.

Step 1: Prepare Your Work Area

In order to wax your skis, you’ll need:

  • Ski wax (cold wax or warm wax, depending on the current snow conditions)
  • Waxing iron
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Soft cloth or rags
  • Plastic ski scraper
  • Set of brushes (coarse, medium, and fine)

I like to set my skis between two sawhorses with the bases facing up. If you have a long table, you can prop the skis up on some books or wooden blocks so that the bindings aren’t laying on the table.

Engage the bindings to get the brakes out of the way. If you can’t engage the bindings, use a Voile strap or rubber band to hold them away from the bases.

Now is a good time to plug in your waxing iron and let it start heating up. Check the packaging on your wax for what temperature you should set your iron at.

Step 2: Clean Your Bases

Start by cleaning your bases with the rubbing alcohol and a clean rag. If your bases are especially dirty, use a towel or brush to wipe them off first. Let them dry completely before you start waxing.

Step 3: Melt on the Wax

Hold your waxing iron and wax above the tip of one ski. Use the iron to melt the wax and drip it onto the ski, moving in a line from tip to tail. You should up with a line of wax droplets along the entire length of the ski.

Starting at the tip of the ski, press the iron onto the base and slowly move it towards the tail. Don’t hold the iron in any one place for more than three seconds, or else you could burn the base.

It usually takes two to four passes to completely melt the wax and spread a layer of wax all over your ski base. The topsheet should feel warm when you’re done, but not hot.

Let the first ski begin to cool, then repeat this process on the other ski.

Step 4: Scrape and Brush

When the first ski has cooled enough so that the topsheet is no longer warm, it’s time to scrape off the excess wax. Move from tip to tail with your ski scraper, applying moderate pressure to get the wax off. You can make a few passes with the scraper, but don’t worry too much about getting every last bit of extra wax off.

Brush your ski from tip to tail using the coarse brush. Then repeat with the medium brush, then the fine brush. Repeat the scraping and brushing process on your other ski to finish.

Summary

It’s always a good idea to wax new skis before you take them to the slopes. Waxing is extremely important to skis’ performance and you’ll get the most out of your skis if you wax them after every several days of use. Waxing at home is simple, cheap, and only takes about 30 minutes.

I live in Bellingham, Washington, at the base of the wild North Cascades. Over the last ten years, I've explored much of the region's steep terrain and endless layers of ridges and peaks, both on foot and on skis, often linking far-flung ridges together to push deeper into the range.

*The information on this site is based on research and first-hand experience but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new activity, we recommend consulting with a physician, nutritionist or other relevant professional healthcare provider.

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