If you are anything like us, spending $35 to get your board waxed at a shop makes you absolutely cringe. Choosing to do the waxing of your board yourself can seem like a daunting task if you have never done it before. Well don’t worry, we have you covered. In this article we are going to explore exactly how to wax your snowboard, what you will need to wax your snowboard,and why waxing your snowboard is essential to the performance of your board.
Before we dive into the specifics of waxing your board, let’s discuss the importance of waxing. If you think wax is simply designed to make your board go faster, you are only half right! The other main function of wax is to keep the base of your board clean and protected. The best way to think about the relationship between wax and boards is to think of it in terms of motor oil and a car. In order to insure that your car keeps running you have to check the oil to make sure it is at the proper level. You have to change it at the appropriate time, and you have to make sure you’re putting the right oil in. Oil keeps your car running. Wax will keep your board running…or gliding as the case may be, and will keep it doing this for a longer period of time.
The way wax works is simple. When you are snowboarding, your board actually creates a thin layer of water underneath it. This is what allows the board to glide and move along the snow. Having wax on your board allows the water to move underneath the board faster, allowing your board to cruise faster. However, in really cold conditions, that thin layer of water may not always form. Instead, the snow is so cold that it has actually taken on the shape of very sharp jagged crystals (at least on a microscopic form). When this happens, these microscopic shards tear into the bottom of you board. If the board is un-waxed, this will literally stop you in your tracks. By putting the proper wax on, you have a protective barrier, allowing your board to glide with ease.
Wax also prevents what is called oxidation. Oxidation is when the base of your board begins to absorb oxygen, which will begin to break down. If you have ever seen that dusty gray look on the bottom of a board, that is oxidation. Obviously, this is not a good thing. By regularly waxing your board, you insure that oxygen stays out and your board stays at top performance. Many will also call this oxidation “base burn.” Don’t get confused as it is the same thing.
Now that you understand why waxing your board is important, let’s get a list of everything you need to wax at home.
Iron: Please do not use an iron that you use for ironing your clothes. Not only will you ruin the iron, but you will probably ruin the wax as well and even possibly your board! We recommend you invest in a wax specific iron from Swix, or something similar. These irons maintain a constant temperature, which is key to melting the wax while not melting the base of your board.
Scraper: A specially designed snowboard scraper is what you need to remove the excess wax before riding. A plexi-glass scraper is the best.
Brushes: Brushes help remove the extra wax from the grooves that the scraper left behind. Properly waxed boards have only a very thin layer of wax. Any more than this and it will actually inhibit the performance of the board. Brushes come from stiff to soft, with the stiff brush removing more wax and the softer brushes giving a better finishing polish. If you are going to only get one, get a medium nylon. If you are going to get two, which will finish your board off much better, get a medium boars hair and soft nylon.
Vices: Now vices are necessary but they do make everything way easier and faster. Vices are what hold the board steady during waxing. Without one of these, your board will be rolling all over, making waxing very difficult. Make sure you get a vice for snowboards and not for skis!
Wax: Waxes come on a range of prices and temperatures. The more expensive a wax is, the faster it will make you board ride. This is because it contains more hydrophobic chemicals which repel the water faster. As for temperatures, the colder you expect it to be, the harder the wax will be. So if you have an idea of the temperature when you are going to ride, then you can get a temperature specific wax. (It will say in the description what temperatures it is designed for). If you are not sure, you can either buy a range of different temperature specific waxes, or what is called universal wax. Universal wax is designed to work at all temperatures, but does sacrifice some quality.
Ok, now that you have all your gear, it’s time to learn how to wax! The first thing need to do is secure you board to the vice. Make sure it is good and tight so it doesn’t move when you are waxing. Then you need to pick your wax. Use either the proper temperature or a universal wax.
Once you have the proper wax, plug your iron in and let it heat up. If you have an iron with a temperature setting, look on the wax box to see what you should temperature the iron should be set at for melting. If it does not say, let the iron warm up and press some wax into it, if it smokes it is too hot, turn it down til the wax simply melts. Once the warm up light has gone off, hold the iron about 6 inches above the base of your board and press the wax onto the iron. The will melt and drip off the iron onto the board. Keep the iron moving in a zig-zag fashion down the board. Remember, you don’t need to use a good amount of wax because you are going to scrape the majority of it off later.
After dripping the wax on, begin to melt the wax into the board. Place the iron onto the dripped wax and move the iron back and forth or in a circular fashion. Remember to always keep the iron moving; otherwise you will burn your base. This will ruin your board because the base will bubble up.
Once the wax is evenly spread over the entire base, let it cool for 30-60 minutes. Once the wax has sat and is cool to the touch, it is time to begin taking it off. Take your scraper at a 45 degree angle and run it down the base of the board from tip to tail. Repeat this process until no more wax come off the base. If you are finding that your scraper is not removing wax efficiently, it is probably dull. You need to either get a sharpener or a new scraper.
Once you have finished scraping, take your brush firmly in your hand and brush from tip to tail. You will see a white powder come off. This is the wax. Continue brushing till you see very little powder coming off. If you have multiple brushes, start with your stiffest and move to your softest. Remember, the more brushing you do, the faster your board will ride. Once you are done brushing, wipe the base off with a dry towel and HIT THE SLOPES.
You should wax your board approximately every 4-10 riding days. Doing this will endure the longevity and peak performance of the board. Now get out there on your freshly tuned board!