When you begrudgingly accept that ski season is over, it’s easy to ignore your Nordic skis. With the snow all gone, they become a painful reminder of how long you’ll have to wait until you get to put them to use again.
But how you treat your Nordic skis when the season ends makes all the difference in how well they’ll treat you at the start of next year. Storage waxing both your skate and classic skis before stashing them away for the summer is key, and it’s a quick and easy DIY task that can be done at your home wax station.
What You Need:
- Soft cleaning wax
- Base prep or all-temp wax
- Waxing iron
- Plastic scraper
- Fine steel or brass brush
- Nylon brush
The goal of storage wax is basically to limit contact between your ski’s bases and oxygen – Nordic ski bases are susceptible to oxidation when exposed to O² for long periods of time. While one summer without storage wax isn’t going to destroy your skis, it does start a slow process of base-degradation. If you look closely at a pair of improperly stored Nordic skis, you will see the telltale chalkiness of dried-out bases. If the oxidation has been allowed to progress for too long, your skis will need a fresh base grind before fully accepting wax again, and you’ll start next season fighting the snow without much kick or glide.
So, in order to ensure that everyone gets off to a good start to the season, here are our steps to storage waxing Nordic skis:
- Decide If You Need a Tune
Closely examine the structure of your bases. If it’s been a while since they’ve had a grind, it’s a good idea to get them tuned before applying your storage wax. A fresh stone grind will guarantee that your skis will accept, or soak-in the wax, and makes for a convenient scrape-and-go start to next season. If your structure looks good, however, and you want to wait to take care of the tune once next year’s pre-season snow conditions have improved, then you can get started with the storage waxing.
- Hot Scrape Your Bases
For this step, you’ll be removing as much old wax and dirt from your bases as possible. To do this, you will want to use a non-fluorinated cleaning wax (we recommend Toko NF Cleaning & Hot Box Wax) and perform what is called hot scraping.With your waxing iron set to the listed temperature, drip your cleaning wax onto the base of your skis and iron it in over the course of 2-3 passes. This draws any unwanted particles out of your structure and to the surface of the base allowing for their easy removal. Then, while the cleaning wax is still wet, or molten, use your plastic scraper to remove the wax, checking for dirt in the residue. If your bases were especially dirty, you may have to repeat this process multiple times until the removed wax appears pure and particle-free.
Keep in mind, since cleaning wax is especially soft, you’ll want to make sure your scraper doesn’t have any nicks or burrs on it’s edges as these imperfections can scratch your bases. The Swix Plexi Scraper - 3mm is a durable stand-by in our tune shop.
- Brush Your Bases
After letting your skis cool for 10-15 minutes, it’s time for the two-step graduating brush process.First, use your fine brass brush (or any comparable gentle metal brush) to remove the bulk of the remaining cleaning wax. Working tip to tail, brush out your base structure with smooth and even pressure. Next, switch to your nylon brush (the Toko Nylon Base Brush is a classic), and using the same method, brush your bases until no more wax dust is appearing.
- Applying Storage Wax
Once your bases are thoroughly cleaned, you’re ready to wax. For this, the options are widespread. In our tune shop at the White Pine Nordic Center, we like to use a warm temperature, non-fluoro hydrocarbon wax such as Swix CH8.Making sure your waxing iron is clean, drip your storage wax onto the bases of your skis. Knowing that your bases will absorb much of the wax over the course of the summer, don’t skimp on the application. Be sure to double check the recommended iron temperature for the specific wax you’ve chosen and set your iron appropriately. Most wax boxes will feature a small picture of an iron with the recommended temperature - more than likely, your waxing iron will display its temperature in °C.
After dripping on your wax, melt it in as evenly as possible by making 3-4 steady passes from tip to tail. It’s important to keep the iron moving at all times – too fast and the wax won’t disperse evenly, too slow and the bases can burn. A good indicator for proper iron speed is to keep a 3-4 inch trail of wet wax behind the iron.
If it looks like your bases have absorbed a large portion of the wax, repeat the hot wax process until you have a good amount of protective storage wax built up. Once you’re satisfied take a step back to let the wax cool, while inspecting your job to make sure that you have covered both bases in entirety.
- Storing Your Skis
Selecting your storage place is the last step in the process. It’s also arguably the most important. Fluctuating temperatures and conditions that are either too dry or too humid will damage your skis. A good way to choose the location is to think about a place that you would be OK spending the summer tucked away. Basically, garages, basements and attics are iffy. A closet in your temperature-controlled house is perfect.
Not set up for storage waxing?
Not everyone has access to wax, brushes and an iron. If you fall into that category, don’t let it stop you from properly storing your Nordic skis for summer. Having your skis storage waxed at a trusted tune shop is a quick and inexpensive process.
Nate Tomlinson, Senior Content Writer
Jans Park City Nordic Ski Tuning