Snowboard Waxing FAQ | How often should I wax my snowboard?

If you've ever wondered how often should I wax my snowboard?  Don't worry you're not alone. It's a very common question we get related to snowboard waxing.

So to help our readers out I've put together this FAQ to answer this question and more. I also show you a step by step process on how to wax your snowboard at home if you're up for it?

So read on to find all the information you need to know about snowboard waxing.

FAQ:

Do I need to wax my snowboard and what are benefits?

Yes, you need to wax your snowboard if you want to improve its performance on the snow. Very simply waxing is the process of putting wax on the base (bottom) of your board or ski. The biggest advantage is the process will make your snowboard glide better on the snow and it will improve your speed as well.

While most riders can feel the impact of a freshly waxed board in all snow conditions there's one place in particular that I REALLY notice an improvement in glide; flat terrain!

You'll usually see flat terrain in the form of connector trails between downhill runs and they are often a problem for snowboarders. If you want to decrease your chance of running out of gas on these flats and having to unstrap and skate or walk, then a good wax can be your best friend.

When my board is properly waxed I often glide right past stalled out riders and skiers working up a sweat with their poles to make it through. You can almost feel the looks of amazement and jealousy as you glide effortlessly past the stranded!

Another benefit is if you are looking to hit park features then often you may have a short runway and with a proper wax on your snowboard base you can get up to your needed speed from a closer distance.

Finally, waxing will also protect the base of your snowboard and prevent it from getting dry which can improve its lifespan.

Do you need to wax a new snowboard and doesn't my snowboard come with factory wax?

All new snowboards come waxed which seems to suggest that you don't have to wax your new ride straightaway. However, you need to keep in mind that new boards come with 'factory wax' which many times is similar to a spray or a rub-on wax, which is different and not as effective as a true hot wax.

There are some manufacturers that do apply a hot wax but you should check with the board manufacturer to confirm.

In any case, you need to decide weather your new snowboard needs a hot wax right away which depends on the state of the wax on the snowboard.

The state of the wax on the board refers to the time that the board has been sitting in the shop after being manufactured. The longer it sits in the shop the greater the chance that it might have dried out, especially if supplied with a factory spray or rub-on wax.

The bottom line is to have a great ride right out of the gate and ensure the best long-term performance of your board it is best to apply a fresh coat of wax on a new snowboard.

What type of wax should I use?

There are many different types of waxes available for you to use on your snowboard. There are waxes for general use, waxes for high performance, and waxes that you can use instantly when you don't have time before you ride.

Here's a rundown of the major categories of waxes.

Hot Wax

The hot wax category has its own subcategories as well and they are explained as follows:

Hydrocarbon Wax

These waxes are usually the basic component of all waxes that are used for recreational purposes. These waxes are very economical and for this reason, they can be used as a storage or cleaning wax.

Molybdenum Wax

These operate by counteracting the electrostatic forces that slows the rider in dry snow or cold weather. These waxes also have the benefit of being a little more effective at repelling dirt.

Fluorinated Wax

These waxes are faster than hydrocarbons, but fluorinated waxes are more toxic as well. Before applying this wax you need to be in a properly ventilated place.

These waxes come in different mixtures ranging from low-fluorinated to high-fluorinated. The higher versions are costly and they come in powdered form.

These waxes are typically used as a second layer on top of a base hydrocarbon layer to improve the speed of the snowboard on the snow.

Racing Wax

These waxes are the most expensive ones and they come in types of base and top layers. The general focus is on fluorinated here again. The base layer lays a platform for the top layer to increase the overall performance.

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Eco-friendly Waxes

These waxes are made for environmentally conscience riders. If you wax at home and have kids around this is a good choice.

The basic component of this wax is soy. These waxes are 100% bio-degradable so you don't have to worry too much about cleaning up every last scrap of wax if you are waxing outside.

Rub-On Wax

Rub-on waxes are best for two things:

  1. If you don't want to bother spending time on waxing or ironing your board.
  2. Touch-ups between riding sessions when a full wax is not required. 

These waxes are best for recreational snowboarders but hardcore riders can also use these waxes in between hot wax treatments.

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Spray-On Wax

Spray-on waxes are a newer addition to the family of waxes and they further simplify the waxing process. You could say that if someone is lazy enough to use a rub-on wax then they can definitely use a spray-on wax because it hardly needs any effort. Just open the cap and spray it on your snowboard and you are all done.

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What snowboard wax temperature rating or color do I need?

An important thing to know is snowboard wax temperature rating is relative to the snow temperature rather than air temperature.  You basically have two directions to take when choosing a wax:

  1. Take the easy route and use a universal all-temperature hydrocarbon wax. This is an excellent one size fits all system for recreational riders.
  2. Check the weather and choose a wax that is most effective in a narrower temperature range. These waxes are more appropriate for hard core riders, racers, and professionals.

Some manufacturers color their waxes to denote various temperature ratings. However, there is no standard and some just color it to whatever looks cool for marketing purposes. Since there are so many categories and brands of waxes its best to check the packaging or ask the manufacturer than rely on the color.

What is the recommended iron temperature for snowboard wax?

The recommended iron temperature for snowboard wax ranges from 248-degree Fahrenheit to 284-degree Fahrenheit.

A rule of thumb is if the wax takes a long time to drip from the iron it's too cold and if it's smoking then it's too hot.

Some manufacturers have recommended ranges specific to each wax. If you have an infrared thermometer this could help you get closer to the manufacturer's recommendation but for most people, you'll do fine with just dialing it in with trial and error.

Do I need to clean my snowboard before I wax?

Yes, you need to clean your snowboard before you wax to get rid of any impurities such as dust or dirt from the base of the board. Cleaning is essential because any dust particles remaining on the base will reduce the effectiveness of the wax and not provide the desired performance and protection against wear.

Can you use a regular iron to wax a snowboard?

You can use a regular clothing iron for this purpose but it is not recommended. The heat on clothing iron is not consistent and wax will build up in the steam holes too as you run the iron over your snowboard. A typical waxing iron is also smaller and easier to handle. I used an old clothing iron at first but then quickly switched to one designed for waxing and found it a much easier process.

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How much does it cost to get a wax at a snowboard shop and how much to wax it myself?

The cost of getting your snowboard hot waxed from a shop will be around $15 to $25. Often you can find coupons for cheaper or even free waxes in local tourist magazines in ski areas.

If you'd like to wax it yourself, after purchasing the equipment, the only consumable is wax so the per cost wax goes way down.

Depending on the wax you prefer it may only cost between $2 and $10 per wax application. Unless you live near a snowboard shop then you're probably better off doing it yourself.

I find it kind of therapeutic and gets me pumped up thinking about riding. Also you can get it done before your trip rather than dropping off your board at a shop once you arrive at the ski area. It's one less thing to worry about.

How long does snowboard wax last and how to tell if a snowboard needs wax?

A common recommendation you'll hear is that you should wax your board after three days from your last ride. However, the waxing frequency depends upon various factors including the conditions in which you ride, the design of your snowboard base, and how many hours you spend riding.

Spring conditions tend to wear wax of faster due to the coarseness of the snow and slush particles. Your wax will last a little longer if riding powder or in very cold conditions.

As I said the base material has an effect on wax frequency. Some boards have extruded bases while others have sintered bases. A sintered base needs more frequent waxing to maintain its performance as compared to an extruded one.

As wax dries out on a sintered base it is more noticeable than the extruded one too. In turn, you'll also find a fresh wax on an extruded base is not as noticeable as compared to a fresh wax on sintered one.

You can easily tell when your board needs waxing from the look of the base and how the board feels when you ride it. If you think that your snowboard is slowing down especially in flat areas and the base is looking dry and white, then you need to give it a wax treatment. You'll usually notice the edges drying out first.

How Do You Hot Wax Your Snowboard?

Who's ready to wax their own board?  You should try it!

If you search YouTube you'll find all kinds of videos covering how to wax your board. Some are short and cover just the basics while others are far too long and in depth for the average home snowboard waxer.

I'm a big fan of SnowboardProCamp's snowboarding tutorials and they have also put out a great short and sweet video that covers the basic waxing process. Below is their video. Following their video we've broken it down into the basic steps so you can refer to them as you take on your wax project.

Step 1: Get the tools and materials

First of all, you need the tools and materials together. The items required for this process include:

  • Piece of cardboard/plastic drape*
  • Screwdriver
  • Your preferred base cleaner
  • Your favorite snowboard wax
  • W​​​​axing iron
  • Scraper
  • Scrub sponge or brush
  • Rag

*Note: You're going to want to lay something down where you plan to wax and scrape. You could use a plastic drape too. Melted wax on the floor is hard to remove and the wax shavings from the scraping process are also hard to clean up.

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Step 2: Remove the bindings

Place you snowboard on the cardboard and carefully remove the bindings using your screwdriver.  Give a quick wipe down of the top of the board.

Step 3: Cleaning the base

Next you need to clean the base of your snowboard with the help of a base cleaner. The purpose of doing this is to remove any dirt as well as old wax from the base of the board. Just spray the cleaner on the base and then wipe it with the rag. If needed use the scrub sponge to get rid of any hard to clean areas.

Step 4: Applying the wax

Before you begin with this step, make sure to preheat the waxing iron. After it's heated up start by dripping the wax at the edges of your snowboard first and then drip it evenly across the base.

Next start spreading the wax around and across the base with the iron and make sure to work the wax towards the edges of the board. Keep the iron moving at all times because overheating at particular areas will not spread the wax evenly.

Now, let it cool down for at least 30 minutes and after that touch the board with your hands. When you feel that the wax has cooled off it is ready to scrape.

Step 5: Remove the wax (all of it)

Using your scraper, the next step is to remove all the wax from the base of your board.

Make sure to start from the edges and then work your way across the surface. All of it should be scraped off because the board has absorbed the necessary wax within its base.

This is where you'll see why cardboard is placed underneath the snowboard as it collects all the wax shavings for easy cleaning.

Step 6: Cleaning up

With help of the cardboard, you can conveniently contain the wax shaving and dispose of them. Then start scrubbing the base from tip to tail with your scrub sponge and remove any leftover wax from the surface as well as the edges.

Step 7: Replacing the bindings

The final step is to replace the bindings on your board with help of your screwdriver and you are all done.

Awesome! Now you know how to wax your board.  So take a run on those flats and see how many people you can pass up!
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