Have you had this experience while snowboarding? You’re just starting an epic day on the slopes at the start of the season, when all of a sudden you hit a catwalk that takes you to a momentum killing, immediate standstill. Small children are passing you. Grandpa and grandma are passing you…
And you think to yourself, “ahh man, I should’ve waxed my snowboard.” It’s even worse if you planned on hitting the park all day. You hit that first box and grind to a stop on top of it, and then look around to see if anyone notices you standing on the box looking like an idiot.
I’ve been there. Most likely you’ve been there too.
That realization that you could have taken a few minutes to tune up your board before the beginning of the season to start the year off right on the slopes. Or maybe you never knew you needed to keep your board waxed up and now you’re thinking to yourself, “That’s why my board doesn’t perform that way I want it to.”
Well I’m here to tell you. You need to wax your snowboard! It is one of the easiest ways to keep your board tuned up and in shape to last many, many winters (that and avoiding hitting trees:).
If your snowboard was a car, waxing would be your oil changes. If it was your fireplace, its like having a chimney sweep clean away the gunk. If it was your toilet….well you get the idea. Read on to learn more about waxing your snowboard to keep it moving down the mountain with ease and speed! Your ego will thank you.
Wax on, Wax off.
Not just a great quote from a great movie! It’s what you actually do when waxing your board. Below are the steps to doing a hot, glide wax where you will put the wax on and take the wax off of your snowboard to ensure a smooth ride!
- Set up your board on a flat, sturdy surface. Can be any table, waxing table, or waxing vice on a work bench.
- Clean the base of your board. I like to use a citrus based cleaner like Goo Gone and a rag to wipe the base clean.
- After its dry, take the wax and hold it against a hot iron to melt it on to the base of the board.
- You don’t want to completely cover the board in wax. You will be ironing the wax drops to spread it later. I like to use a snaking pattern and keep about an inch between each drop of wax.
- Iron the wax drops so that they remelt and spread across the whole base of the board. You’ll know when you have ironed the drops enough when you put your hand on the top of your board (not the base, currently upside down on your table) and it is warm to the touch.
- Let it sit and cool. Go grab something to drink, a snack maybe and let the wax do its thing!
- Once its cooled, take your plastic or metal scraper and start scraping. Put your scraper at a 45 degree angle and go nuts!
- After all the wax is off of your base, take a scouring pad or steel wool and wipe it down one more time.
- Put your bindings back on…sorry… I should have put this as number one…remove your bindings.
How often should you wax your board?
So now you know how to wax your snowboard. Obviously, your next question is…how often do I have to, I mean should I wax my board or have it waxed to keep it in optimal riding condition? And for that, I will say the ever helpful answer of…it depends.
It is said that your board should be waxed every three times you ride it. However, that depends on your boards base construction, what type of conditions you are riding in, what type of riding you are doing, and how often you ride.
If you’re are riding rails in the park all day, or if you ride somewhere with lots of ice, you may want to have it waxed every few days or so. If you ride three times a year, you may only need one waxing for the year. And if you ride somewhere where you are blessed to be riding powder most days, your waxed base may stay in great shape for a few weeks.
What I will say is, keep the “wax your board every three times of riding” in your mind as your baseline and then check your board after each day of riding. If the outer edge of your board looks dry (lighter color that almost looks like scratches), you know you should get it waxed.
If you feel it sticking while riding, get it waxed. If you’re are just learning to snowboard, you will learn to become one with your board and start to feel when it is operating at its maximum efficiency and also know when its not. When its not, wax your snowboard!
Different types of wax to use.
Depending on what type of riding you are doing and the conditions you are riding in, the wax you use could change. I highlighted how to do a hot wax above, but there is also the option of doing rub on waxes where you don’t need a hot iron and that is one of the options of types of wax you can use. Others are listed below.
First, there are
- Cold weather wax – for those times you are boarding in cold weather and this wax hardens the base of the board to help it glide better.
- Warm weather wax – Used in warmer, wetter condition. It helps the boards base to be resistant to suctioning which tends to happen in warmer, wetter conditions.
- All temperature wax – Can be used in either cold or warm weather. Most choose this option.
Getting even more specific as to the types of waxes, the options get even more granular.
- Hydrocarbon wax – Usually used in most recreational waxes. Not that expensive and can be used when you don’t care about adding a little bit of speed to your runs.
- Flourinated wax – Faster than hydrocarbon wax, but toxic…make sure you are in a well ventilated area when using this wax. More pricey and can come in mixtures of high flouro or low flouro. High flouro typically comes in powder form. This wax is used as a second layer between runs to give you that extra burst of speed you were hoping for.
- Racing Wax – Gets expensive…and techy. Most likely a flouro wax will be involved in this one. It is usually put on in a two layer approach known as base layer and top layer. So look for the brands that put these two types together as complimenting waxes.
- Eco-friendly wax – Typically made using soy, but can be made of other blends. Can be safe to wax in the house and is also biodegradable so you can wax outside and could hypothetically leave it there…but don’t.
- Rub on waxes – For those that don’t want to do a hot wax. Good for touch ups between runs…if you happen to be carrying it in your pockets while riding. Can be a good option for those only riding a couple times a year. Good for those that don’t want to take the time or energy to do a hot wax. Can be useful to do a quick once over around the edges since that is the area that typically dries out the quickest. You will need to go over it with a cork, though, but do not fear…cork comes attached to the lid of the wax container.
Pay to have it done, or DIY?
To pay or not to pay…someone to wax your snowboard for you? That is a question only you can answer. And I would be lying if I told you that I never had a shop wax my board for me.
However, it will save you money in the long run if you buy the tools to do your own waxing at home instead of paying the $30-$50 a pop to have someone in an apron do it for you. And it may even cost more than that depending on where you go (that has just been my experience for pricing).
But if you have the time, energy, and willingness to learn a new skill, than waxing your snowboard yourself is for you. It feels great knowing how to take care of your own board and you will feel that much more connected to it each time you ride it and tune it. I like to do it myself and only employ a shop to help me if absolutely necessary. I’d say give it a try to see which you prefer and then go from there.
Test out your waxy handy work.
OK, you now know the importance of waxing, how to wax, how often to wax, what type of wax to use. It’s time for you to get out there and shred, wax and repeat.
So give waxing your board a try to see how it can make your riding experience more enjoyable and how great it will make you feel once you have learned a new skill that you can use any time you need to. I think you’ll be glad you did!
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