Basewax

Quick Links: Tech Page Home, Kick Zone Basewax, Glide Zone Basewax

General

Basewax comes in two forms: a basewax for the kick zone and a basewax for the glide zone. The basewax for the kick zone is sometimes also called a base binder or a groundwax. We will discuss the two separately.

Kick Zone Basewax

The purpose of the basewax is to help the grip wax or klister of the day to stay on the base longer. The basewax for the kick zone can be sub-divided into two situations: when grip wax is used and when klister is used. There are basewaxes for each. Some people prefer to use the klister basewax as the basewax for both grip wax and klister. These are personal preferences and you are free to choose whichever you prefer. But we'll note that the kickwax basewax tends to be used in slightly abrasive conditions and klister when the conditions are very abrasive.

It is usually a good idea to roughen the kick zone to help the kick wax or klister stay on the base longer. Even if you don't you will need to remove any old wax from the kick zone first.

Applying Grip Basewax

Crayon the grip basewax in thin, even spaced diagonal strips along the kick zone. You do not need a lot of basewax; a thin amount goes a long way. In a warm room cork the basewax hard and long. You are trying smooth it to a very thin layer and warm it into the base with the friction of the cork. Once the basewax is smoothed cork for one to two minutes. A synthetic cork tends to work best with basewax because it is so hard and natural corks sometimes grab a bit much. Let cool before applying the grip wax as per regular instructions.

You may optionally heat the basewax into the base using a hot air gun, hair dryer or iron. If you are racing or doing a long loppet then heating the basewax is recommended. You do you should still smooth the basewax across the kick zone using a cork. Do not heat the basewax until it is boiling or bubbling. You are just trying to warm it into the base. You should keep it warm for one to two minutes. If you use an iron remember to clean it after.

Remember you are looking to have a thin layer of basewax. You still have your wax of the day to apply.

Applying Klister Basewax

Applying the klister basewax is almost identical to applying the grip basewax. The key difference is that klister is a lot sticker and corking it can be an awkward task. However, once warmed it is easier to spread than grip basewax. Also see the Klister Tech Page on applying klister.

Without heating the klister basewax tube (remember heating a klister tube is asking for trouble), remove the cap. Then dab small dots along the kick zone. If the klister is not coming quickly let the tube warm in your hand. If you are working outside and the tube is very cold then a short 3 seconds with a heat gun should get enough klister moving for this purpose. Patience given allowing the klister to come slowly makes it a lot easier when you go to recap the tube. Now recap the tube and place it back in its ziploc bag and place the bag in a cool spot.

Using a hair dryer or hot air gun warm the klister basewax on the ski. Once the klister is warm, but not hot, spread it thinly and evenly across the kick zone using your thumb or a scraper. Now heat the basewax so that it remains warm for between one and two minutes. Do not overheat the klister basewax. Then allow it to cool before taking the ski outside to cool even more. You should place the skis level, so the klister basewax does not run into the glide zone, and bases face up so that snow does not stick. Once the klister has cooled then you can apply the klister of the day overtop as per regular instructions.

You may also use a waxing iron (with the smooth base) to iron the klister instead of using a hot air gun. It can go more quickly and smooth out the klister at the same time. However, it means that you will need to clean the iron before you use it again for glide wax. And that's often something people wish to avoid. Immediately wiping the iron clean and clear is usually the best practice because trying to do it later with wax remover is not as easy. Remember to let the klister cool completely before applying kickwax over it.

When using an iron set the temperature at 80°C to 90°C. You can press down with the iron while you move it back and forth to spread the klister. pressing down will help you get as thin a layer as possible. Wipe off any excess that goes off the base and onto the sidewalls.

Glide Zone Basewax

Glide zone basewax can be used for a number of purposes. It can be used for helping safely remove waxes already in the base, it can be used as a travel wax (assuming you'll place the wax of the day on the skis at your destination) and for preparing the bases to hold glide wax better. We'll be discussing it here with the last use in mind.

Glide wax is composed of short and long molecules that are fairly straight and some ring shaped molecules. The ring and shorter forms tend to be in the warmer waxes while the longer forms tend to be in the colder waxes. Without too much surprise it is the length and shape of these molecules that helps determine the hardness of the wax. The ski base itself has spaces and openings (often called "pores", but they aren't really) that the glide wax will "wedge" into or penetrate. It is easier for smaller object to fit into a space than it is larger objects. It has been found by many skiers, and likely you too, that warmer glide wax jobs last longer than the colder glide wax jobs. This is mostly because of the difficultly of large versus small objects getting into a space.

The job of basewax is to help keep the glide wax on the base longer. It does this by being very good at penetrating the openings in the base while providing "hooks" (for lack of a better term) that help hold the glide wax to the base. This is more crucial for the colder waxes than warmer waxes, but still important for both. Therefore having a good basewax preparation will help the skis maintain the wax jobs longer. The result is a longer lasting, more enjoyable ski for you. The Ski*go Soft Basewax can be used for glide basewaxing.

The method here is usually done at the begining of the ski season or when you get new skis. If you ski a lot over the season or have several wax jobs with cold glide wax you will need to do the basewax again. As the glide waxes wear off they remove, or pull with them, little bits of the basewax. Eventually the basewax will be gone or enough of it removed it might as well be gone.

The process is to apply the basewax, allow it to cool, scrape and brush thoroughly. You should brush with a nylon brush first to remove the upper excess and followup with the fine brass brush or fine steel brush. The complete process should be repeated several times -- at least five times. The skis should be allowed to cool between each pass so as not to overheat the ski's core or the bases (thus damaging the ski). Remember that the lower the iron temperature the less chance of damage to the bases and the longer exposure time you can have of iron to wax to base. The longer the wax is warm the better the uptake of wax to the base. Once the wax turns liquid or molten the iron should not remain in that spot; the base will be starting to absorb most of the heat.

Once you have completed using the basewax use a non-fluoronated wax, such as Ski*go Red XC, twice. Do the entire sequence of wax, cool, scrape and brush. The brushing is very important -- it must be a thorough brushing. This warm wax will "hook" to the basewax and in turn provide a better "hook" for colder waxes and fluoronated waxes. This hooking allows for wax to last longer and have a more even application across the base. At SkiWax.ca we refer to this glide wax layer as the "underlayer". This is the layer of wax under the wax of the day. It has a significant influence on the performance of the top wax layer. Someone waxing for an important race can have from one to three underlayers depending on the conditions. For recreation, training and citizen racing one underlayer is usually good.

Allowing the ski base to cool between rounds of ironing is important. The ski base expands and shrinks as it is heated and cooled. The difference can be up to 15%. When the base shrinks some of the wax is squeezed deeper into the base. For this reason many skiers will iron, let the skis cool to room temperature and then put the skis outside for a while (assuming it's colder outside of course).

Fluoronated and cold waxes have a more difficult time than warm, non-fluoronated waxes working into the ski base because of their construction. Cold waxes are large molecules which have difficulty penetrating the ski base. Fluoronated waxes usually have the fluorine atoms clustered at the same end of the wax molecule. This clustering makes this end of the wax molecule larger which has a harder time penetrating the ski base (even with the warm fluoronated waxes). The basewax and the non-fluoronated wax significantly help the fluoronated wax stay with the base.

Now you may wax with the "wax or waxes of the day".

One of the most common question is: why do I remove what I just put on? Why don't I just re-heat the basewax already sitting on the ski base. There are two answers to this: one is empirical evidence and the other some logic. The empirical evidence comes from the experience of coaches and wax technicians around the world. If they didn't have to spend extra time doing it this way they probably wouldn't -- they have enough skis to wax. The logic of it is that every ski base is different enough from every other ski base and the openings in the base ("pores") you are trying to fill as much as possible. The wax is composed of different shaped and size molecules. At some point after heating the wax the openings will become filled or blocked by molecules too large to fit into an opening. Maintain the wax warm for a long period of time does improve the ability of the smaller molecules to get into the openings. However, a limit is reached. By physically removing the excess wax some openings become re-exposed. By waxing again, there is the opportunity to fill the openings with matching size wax. Each time you wax and scrape the number of left over openings decreases. Your success with each wax and scrape of filling the remaining openings diminishes substantially.

Why keep doing it then for so many times? Because you are looking to get as close as possible to 100% coverage of the openings. If you are an occational recreational skier then 85% coverage may be good enough. For a racer, where every little bit counts 99% coverage is a significant improvement over 85%.



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