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Waxing, how much difference does it actually make.

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@Thornyhill, Oh good, that's saved me mentioning it... my eye was starting to twitch Laughing
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I think we need to apply some science to some of the subjective comments. Heres my 25p worth.

The base is made of HDPE - High Density Poly Ethylene - so its an extruded plastic made from petrol.

It has low water absorption - 0.03% - so it doesn't absorb water - or dry out.

Its an extruded plastic - so it doesnt have pores that open up or hairs in it

At the molecular level - its not completely smooth - so i'm guessing that wax it simply a polish to reduce friction - The University of Innsbruck has a test facility to measure the friction of skis on snow at various temperatures. The warmer the snow - the less friction due to water lubrication. I've not seen any papers where they have tested the effect of wax on the friction of skis bases.

Any polish on a surface thats experiencing friction will wear off. If you have a thin layer of it - it will wear off quicker - remembering that colder snow will wear it off quicker.

Waxing and scraping it off to 'clean' the base sounds like the wax is supposed to pick up micro particles of dirt that are embedded in the base and so increase the friction - but not seen any evidence that it actually does this.

I've waxed skis and not scraped them apart from the edges to see what happens - and the wax seems to stay on them longer because it was thicker to start with.

i dont see much point in waxing skis and then scraping it all back off again.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
There's a big difference between extruded bases as you describe above, and sintered bases which we probably all ski on. There are indeed pores or holes in a sintered base.
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Quote:

Waxing and scraping it off to 'clean' the base sounds like the wax is supposed to pick up micro particles of dirt that are embedded in the base and so increase the friction - but not seen any evidence that it actually does this.


The evidence is the black dirty wax shavings that come off the base
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I was told many years ago that the wax encouraged a very thin layer of liquid water between the snow and ski that acted as a lubricant and I can imagine a “rougher” surface disturbing laminar flow etc. and all sorts of weird stuff!
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@under a new name, that's true!
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Interesting article on the dominator site read chapter 3 https://www.dominatorwax.com/sites/default/files/dominator/wax-science-demystified.pdf
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
So given that most of us don't race, don't really care if we max out at 50kmh instead of 65kmh on a particular slope, and spend most of our skiing time shaping our turns to control our speed, does wax matter at all for leisure skiers?

I really don't care if my skis are inherently fast. I care if they're stable at speed so I can stay in control; it's important that they turn well in a wide variety of snow conditions; and I need them to help me with tricky stuff like crud, powder, moguls, ice, and spring snow. But fast? Not so much. Next time I find myself at the top of a narrow chute with no space to turn, I'll probably be wishing that I actually had slower skis, not faster ones.

Or does wax help with ski characteristics apart from speed?
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Jonny Jones wrote:
So given that most of us don't race, don't really care if we max out at 50kmh instead of 65kmh on a particular slope, and spend most of our skiing time shaping our turns to control our speed, does wax matter at all for leisure skiers?

I really don't care if my skis are inherently fast. I care if they're stable at speed so I can stay in control; it's important that they turn well in a wide variety of snow conditions; and I need them to help me with tricky stuff like crud, powder, moguls, ice, and spring snow. But fast? Not so much. Next time I find myself at the top of a narrow chute with no space to turn, I'll probably be wishing that I actually had slower skis, not faster ones.

Or does wax help with ski characteristics apart from speed?


My 2p: Some benefits of wax beyond speed.

1- The speed benefit also inherently just means less friction between you and the snow. This also means that (a) on long flat sections or even bits of uphill, there's less poling to do because your skis go further from the same energy, (b) your bases wear less because there is less friction and the wax, which is renewable, wears instead.
2- The waxing helps to fill minor base scratches and bumps where a Ptex job would be OTT. Having a generally flatter ski base makes your skis more consistent in their performance. Having skis with dings and scratches all over the bases can lead to erratic unexpected things happening.
3- Slightly indirect but still valid... waxing your skis regularly means you are regularly looking in detail at the bottom of the ski making you more likely to spot problems because (a) you're more in tune with what your bases should look like and (b) you're looking at them in detail and will spot those issues.

Basically, point 1 is enough for me to bother waxing them because there's nothing worse than poling along the flat whilst all the skiers with well maintained skis glide past you. But beyond that it's also just going to help keep your skis themselves in good order, help prevent excess wear and thus make them last longer.

I also find that an evening spent waxing before a trip is a nice way to get into the ski mindset already and get in the zone... I know a lot of others who say the same.
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Why not just wax a single ski to observe the difference?
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Like it. You'll probably get the same sort of response I do when I tell my wife that if she wants to know if her expensive anti wrinkle creams are working then he should just apply them to one side of her face !
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moseyp wrote:
Quote:

Waxing and scraping it off to 'clean' the base sounds like the wax is supposed to pick up micro particles of dirt that are embedded in the base and so increase the friction - but not seen any evidence that it actually does this.


The evidence is the black dirty wax shavings that come off the base


What colour is your base ? they use carbon black in the manufacture of HDPE for ski bases.
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tarrantd wrote:
Interesting article on the dominator site read chapter 3 https://www.dominatorwax.com/sites/default/files/dominator/wax-science-demystified.pdf


Interesting - but not a single reference to any studies to determine where they got this information from.

Maybe i'm being cynical - but their business is to sell wax....
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
http://www.waxcare.nl/services
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Jumping on this thread rather that start new. I did the newbie ski owner thing of buying some discounted skis from an online Scottish shop at the end of last season and got the bindings fixed at a local Snow and Rock. They've been sitting in a ski bag waiting for my trip to Nendaz where I will find out if my decision to buy online was stupid and I should have bought directly from a ski shop when I was last out on the slopes! My question is, even though they are brand new skis do I need to take them to get waxed/tuned before they go down their first run? Thanks in advance.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
You could just ski them, I'm sure many do. If you can get somewhere to give them a proper ironed hot wax it won't do any harm. Plenty info here.

https://thepisteoffice.com/index.php/tuning-guide/9-base-tuning.html
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Quote:

What colour is your base ? they use carbon black in the manufacture of HDPE for ski bases.


It doesn't matter what colour the base is, dirt in wax will still be black coming off a Fischer yellow base
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moseyp wrote:
Quote:

What colour is your base ? they use carbon black in the manufacture of HDPE for ski bases.


It doesn't matter what colour the base is, dirt in wax will still be black coming off a Fischer yellow base


and black also when coming off my lad's white bases on his Lines.
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Better to use a detergent to clean the base then wax?

You wouldn't wax your dirty car then try and rub the dirty wax off.

Does anyone have any figures on what the friction coefficient of HDPE is compared to the various grades of wax?
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@ropetow, no, you scrape off warm wax before it dries so it takes dirt from inside the base
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@ropetow, bases are porous, the wax doesn't sit on the surface - it's absorbed into the ski
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@Thornyhill. I wholeheartedly agree.
Apostrophe abuse? Capital offence.
As well as that, it totally destroys the author's credibility. No way back.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
What about Veet strips?
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Of course you must apply the right wax. I had a pair of bandit B3s which were incredibly slow. You know this is a problem when cruising along a road and everyone comes sailing past you. So I waxed them yet again. Sadly I cannot recall the temperture or wax I used but they were even slower than before. Fortunately the wax wore off and I was back to being just slower than the rest of the group rather than being asked where I had been. It was, however, good for the triceps and deltoid muscles.

I threw the bandits away.

Incidently a quick search on google scholar shows lots of papers on ski wax. Personna;ly I liked this one
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF02844115?LI=true
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@ropetow, hot scraping is good but citrus based cleaners also go pretty deep.

For me a hot scrape is enough but if there was some serious stain on my skis that the hot scrape didn't remove I'd probably have a punt with a citrus based cleaner... I think my cleaning stuff came from Zardoz the people who do notwax.

Hot scrape is a good concept... the wax should essentially adhere to everything on the surface of the ski and then a lot of what's stuck in the pores too, so when you scrape it should come off still attached to the crap it's stuck to. Basically a bit like waxing hair.
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Interestingly I never bother with a hot wax scrape cycle first. I just wax, leave overnight, scrape, repeat, then I'm set for my next week.

I've done a hot wax scrape once and I'm not convinced it made a huge improvement.
If I'm doing a ptex repair then I will just clean out the area to be repaired, using wax remover spray.

Otherwise I just wax, and go !
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If it didn't work then none of the world cup racers would bother with it... Prep is only as good as the person doing it and it does play to the conditions a lot.
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I was listening to the local wireless station a few days ago and the male and female presenters were bantering on about forfeits following a particular game. The female presenter said she would do any forfeit her husband imposed proved it not involve waxing. Clearly she thought it was of no benefit to her skis.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Happy

I went out today without having waxed my board recently nor even having repaired the base shots that it suffered a couple of days ago. It sucked: I couldn't make it to the end of the long flats that are required at the very start and very end of the runs I was doing. I say this apropos of nothing... Just that waxing is good. I will do it tomorrow. Except that I probably won't, because I'm lazy. And then I'll moan to myself about not having done it, the next time I go out.
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Pyremaniac wrote:
I couldn't make it to the end of the long flats



This being sufficient reason alone for me to regularly wax my board and also why it's more important with a board than skis given we don't have those funny self propulsion stick devices. I hate nothing more than running out of momentum on a flat/uphill stretch and having to unclip and walk.

Conversely it's also quite a smug feeling gliding past other skiers/boarders who have run out of momentum and are poling/walking. It's up there in smugness pleasure with bypassing a queue of 20 cars deep by using your peage doofer snowHead
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moseyp wrote:
@ropetow, bases are porous, the wax doesn't sit on the surface - it's absorbed into the ski


where do you get this information from?

"there are absolutely no pores in press sintered UHMWPE base material." Chemical Engineer at IMS Kunststoff AG, ...

Wax sits on top of the base but will fill imperfections in the surface - we're talking 15 microns here.
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I have no idea to the chemistry and physics of waxing and ski base structures, but from experience (including this last couple of weeks) I can say very confidently that in some conditions an appropriately waxed ski glides significantly better than a ski which is a bit 'dry'. Cold snow and wet snow can be a real bitch to ski on if the ski has not been recently waxed (within three or four days I'd say). Purists / perfectionists might well want to wax more frequently than that but I find it a bit tedious so don't wax as often as I perhaps should, but it's simply not right in my experience to say waxing makes no difference.
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Do your own science. Wax one ski and leave the other one dry. Count the times you fall over when one ski stops and the other one doesn't.
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I’m no expert and know nothing about the material used to construct skis. But I cleaned and waxed my skis before going to the CF today. What a difference. I couldn’t believe how much more slippery they were compared to my previous visit. It made poling to the button lift so much easier and therefore less tiring. The difference was so marked, it leaves me with no doubt of the benefit of waxing.
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@ropetow, what do you think hot boxing is for
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moseyp wrote:
@ropetow, what do you think hot boxing is for


i dont know - whats the science behind this?

HDPE melts at 120-180 degs C - the hot box is at 60-65 degs C

So you are not changing the HDPE base because the box isnt hot enough.
Wax melts at between 120-140 degs so you are not melting the wax.

Therefore the hotbox warms the ski base and the wax layer but not near any melting point and doesnt facilitate any other action between the two.

On the face of it - it looks like junk science - but i'm happy to be persuaded otherwise.
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lordf wrote:
If it didn't work then none of the world cup racers would bother with it... Prep is only as good as the person doing it and it does play to the conditions a lot.


I think it does have a short term improvement - which is why racers do this - but it doesnt last more than a couple of km depending on conditions then the wax picks up more dirt and contaminants and ultimately reduces performance over an unwaxed base longer term.
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ropetow wrote:
moseyp wrote:
@ropetow, bases are porous, the wax doesn't sit on the surface - it's absorbed into the ski


where do you get this information from?

"there are absolutely no pores in press sintered UHMWPE base material." Chemical Engineer at IMS Kunststoff AG, ...


Whilst I appreciate you're responding to a different quote, there are differences between porosity and permeability.

To absorb and retain wax within a material, it needs to be permeable, not porous.
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dp wrote:
Whilst I appreciate you're responding to a different quote, there are differences between porosity and permeability.

To absorb and retain wax within a material, it needs to be permeable, not porous.


According to my dictionary porous and permeable are synonyms.

But do we need to wax?

This topic caught my interest and so I've been doing a lot of internet research and find that the common understanding is that cheaper skis are made from extruded Ptex which is very smooth and not very porous. The difference in performance between waxed and unwaxed is very small. More expensive bases are made from sintered ptex, often with additives like graphite, and these are more porous and wax can penetrate into the material. This view is the commonly held view and is propagated by those in the waxing industry.

However most of the views on not waxing seem to be based on the (2010?) Phd thesis of Leonid Kuzmin who went on to form the Kuzmin company selling steel scrapers which he maintains create a better glide base than waxed skis. There is also a quote from Urs Geissbuhler, who was the R&D Manager for Gurit (formerly IMS Kunststoff AG) who at the time made the ptex for ski bases, that there are no pores in UHMW. My google searches have so far failed to find anything that corroborates either of these but lots of papers/blogs which quote both.

Does anyone know the "Tony Warren" who last year was proposing a new base material which wouldn't need waxing? He was looking for volunteers to test his theory over on Pugski.

I remain confused but like many find that waxed skis seem to slide better than unwaxed ones in my opinion.
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ropetow wrote:
The base is made of HDPE - High Density Poly Ethylene - so its an extruded plastic made from petrol.

The defect density in that sentence is quite high.

HDPE isn't "made from petrol". Those are different products of hydrocarbon refining. But you probably mean UHMW-PE anyway.

It's not "an extruded plastic". It's a plastic which is extruded. However most people here will not use extruded bases, which aren't as good at taking wax as sintered bases.
Perhaps there's a clue in that as to the physics of waxing.

ropetow wrote:
i dont see much point in waxing skis and then scraping it all back off again.

Good luck with that.
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