Ski Wax Powders: Fluorocarbons & Hardeners

Quick Links: Tech Page Home, Hardeners or Cold Powders, Fluoro Powders

General

The purpose of pure fluorocarbons (fluoros) is to increase the glide of the ski by making the ski base more hydrophobic (the disliking of water). A side effect is the reduction of dirt picked up from the trail onto the base. In some conditions fluoros can improve glide because they can also act as a dry lubricant (reducing dry friction). But this will be dependent on the particular fluorocarbon.

Pure Fluorocarbon waxes come in three forms: powdered, solid/block and liquid/fluid. The solid form is easier to apply than the powder form. And the liquid/fluid form is the easiest to apply. We suggest that if you are just starting with pure fluorocarbons that you work with the fluid form first. The fluids need time to dry in a warm room. So if you need a quick "touch-up" the solid form will be the faster way. The powdered form is more trickier to spread on the ski base, but the powdered form allows for more fluorocarbon to go into the base. Additionally the powdered form is ironed onto the ski base which means it will last the longest.

Hardeners are designed, as their name suggests, to harden the surface of the ski base. In conditions that are very abrasive a hardener will help keep the underlying wax on the ski longer. In very cold conditions a hardener can help improve the glide. Hardeners can be found in a powdered form or a small chip form. The form is merely a choice of the manufacturer and has no effect on the end result.

Hardeners

Hardeners will be used in conditions that are very abrasive. Very cold snow (<-15°C) that is newly formed is abrasive, or snow that has been transformed into sharp crystals by either grooming or a freeze/thaw cycle at any temperature is abrasive. A quick test for the sharp crystal is to take a small handful of snow and rub it accross your bare palms -- if it feels abrasive to your hands it likely will be the same to your ski bases. Very cold, fresh snow won't pass this "hand test", but is still abrasive.

Not surprisingly hardeners are hard. As such one of the trickest parts of applying hardener is scraping and brushing it without removing it or the underlying wax. So special care should be taken at this step.

The skis should be prepared before with the wax-of-the-day and brushed thoroughly. Next lightly sprinkle the hardener evenly along the glide zone of the ski. There are a couple of different techniques that people use for sprinkling: sprinkling it on similar to using a salt shaker, pouring a very thin line along the ski base and then spreading it, and a two-handed method of holding the container in one hand over the base while the second hand taps the container lightly. Choose the method that works best for you; if you have another way that you like, that's okay. The goal is to put enough on the ski while not using too much or losing wax by it falling to the floor.

Secure the hardener to the ski base with an iron by placing the iron on top of the hardner to tack it to the base with a quick, swift swirl. Then lifting the iron move to the next part of the ski base and repeat until the whole length of the ski is done. This tacks the hardener down so that it will not accidentally blow off or be snowplowed off the base by the movement of the iron. Then move the iron from tip to tail ensuring that the hardener is evenly distributed across the width of the ski. For both Ski*go Cold Powders the iron should set to about 150°C.

Once the hardener has cooled scrape with a sharp plastic scraper. If properly applied the scraper will produce very thin shavings and/or a powder. If the hardener has not bonded to the underlying wax it will tend to "pop" off of the base. This can indicate that you had too thick of a layer of the hardener or the iron did not remain over the wax long enough.

Now brush with a fine steel or brass hand brush or a fine steel or brass roto-brush to remove the excess wax on the base. The brushing should be light and very thorough. Then follow-up by polishing the base with a stiif nylon brush hand or roto brush.

When applying the hardener to the base an iron should be used. Do not attempt to use a roto-cork to apply hardener.

Fluorocarbon Powders

When applying fluorocarbon powders remember that the room should be well ventilated, you should be wearing a proper respirator (P100), and the iron should be at the recommended temperature for the wax. Safety first please!

The skis should be prepared before with the under-wax-of-the-day and brushed thoroughly. Next lightly sprinkle the powder evenly along the glide zone of the ski. There are a couple of different techniques that people use for sprinkling: sprinkling it on similar to using a salt shaker, pouring a very thin line along the ski base and then spreading it, and a two-handed method of holding the container in one hand on the base while the second hand taps the container lightly. Choose the method that works best for you; if you have another way that you like, that's okay. The goal is to put enough on the ski while not using too much or losing wax by it falling to the floor.

If you do not get enough powder on the ski then the iron will touch the ski base. If you put too much powder then then fluoro wax layer will be too thick and may not bond with the HF wax-of-the-day underneath.

Secure the powder to the ski base with an iron by placing the iron on top of the powder to tack it to the base with a quick, light swirl. Do not linger for more then about 1/4 or a second. Then lifting the iron move to the next part of the ski base and repeat until the whole length of the ski is done. This tacks the powder down so that it will not accidentally blow off or be snowplowed off the base by the movement of the iron. Then move the iron from tip to tail ensuring that the wax is evenly distributed across the width of the ski.

Once the powder has cooled you may lightly scrape the excess wax off with a scraper that is not too sharp. Then brush using a horsehair hand brush or a horsehair roto-brush. Most of the excess removal should be done by brushing, not scraping.

As a final touch do not remove the fluorocarbon wax dust created from the brushing. Instead use a roto-cork or natural hand cork to polish the dust into the base. Use firm pressure to warm the base with the hand cork. Do not press hard with the roto-cork.

Ironing pure fluorocarbons to the ski base will result in a long lasting wax job. The other techniques for applying pure fluorocarbons are using a hand cork or using a roto-cork. The hand cork method will last only a short distance of skiing though it is a quick application. Hand cork only if you will be in a sprint race of less than 5km. Roto-corking tends to produce a longer lasting wax job than hand corking.

Hand corking or roto-corking is usually recommended as a finish to the ironing job. You can use the excess "dust" from the brushing or a light sprinkle of fresh powder across the base for the finishing cork job.

If you are concerned with static build-up on the ski base you can lightly spray the bases with water while you do the final horsehair brushing. The water will naturally absorb the stray electrons.

It has been found by many skiers that the glide improves after 4 or 5 km of skiing. To "shorten" this distance we suggest that the skis be brushed thoroughly again with a horsehair brush after they have cooled outside for 10 to 15 minutes. This is more crucial with colder temperatures. As a general rule brush untime the structure of the ski appears and you do not see any visible patches of wax on the surface of the ski. Then brush for about another 20 passes (the horsehair hand brush).



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