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6 Tips for Safely Waxing Your Skis

6 Tips for Safely Waxing Your Skis

Ski season is here and with it comes the essential task of waxing your skis. With the speed and protection that waxing provides, it also comes with some hazards. It’s important to keep in mind a few precautions that will help you limit your exposure to potentially dangerous substances and stay safer while waxing.

Roger Knight, one of North America’s premier wax technicians, manages Boulder Nordic Sport East in Portland, Maine. He’s been working in the nordic ski industry since he was 12 and has been professionally waxing skis since he was in college. Roger shares his tips and tricks for safely waxing your skis below.

1. Follow the Instructions

One of the most obvious and easiest ways to minimize the hazards of waxing is to follow the temperature instructions on the wax packaging to make sure the iron you’re using is properly heated so you don’t overheat the wax.

The waxing iron should be from a ski wax or tool company and have Celsius or Fahrenheit temperatures on it. This allows you to match up the correct setting with the manufacturer’s recommendation on their packaging. Irons from the hardware store are not a safe solution. These irons can vary massively in temperature on one setting creating dangerous conditions for you and your ski base.

2. Take Caution Around Open Flames

An important step in waxing safety is to not expose any glide waxes to open flame. There are varying degrees of flammability, but there’s just no reason to ever expose them. Professional wax technicians will use torches and heat guns on kick wax and klister to warm them up and make them easier to apply. Even then, you need to use caution with these forms of open flame, especially near the exterior of the kick area near the glide zones.

3. Use Proper Ventilation

When waxing, scraping, and brushing you’re sending tiny particles up into the air so it’s essential that the room or tent you’re in is ventilated. Take the time to make sure the area you’re working in has fans and/or fresh air supply.

4. Protect Your Face - All of it

It doesn’t matter how good your ventilation is, you still need to protect your face to prevent inhaling particulates through your mouth and nose. Wearing a mask or respirator is the best measure of protection that you can take against the smoke and dust that all waxes produce when ironing, scraping or brushing. While there might be more of a risk with a pure fluoro wax, smoke and fumes are always there, even when using LF (low fluoro) or CH (hydrocarbon) waxes.

5. Invest in a High-Quality Respirator

Investing in a full-face respirator that covers eyes, nose and mouth makes sense for anyone who is spending time working on skis. A half-face model that covers the nose and mouth is better than nothing, but it still leaves out eye protection. The half-face models also tend to not fit snugly enough to completely seal the nose/mouth area off.

I’ve worn a 3M or Sperian full face respirator with hard P100 Organic Vapor cartridges for ten years now and have never felt safer. As a wax tech, I sometimes spend six hours straight waxing skis and these masks fit comfortably, don’t fog up, and don’t interfere with my job.

The industry standard for respirator cartridges (filters) are the P100 OV. These have full protection against all particulates and organic vapors that waxing can produce. I change my filters about twice per season, but most at-home ski waxers can get away with one change per year.

6. Safer is Always Better

The reality is, we should all be subscribing to the “safer is better” strategy when it comes to ski waxing. This means not only waxing in well ventilated wax areas, but also making sure to wear proper face protection and taking care to not overheat the wax or expose it to open flame.

When in doubt, come to one of our waxing clinics and we can show you how to safely wax your skis. Or drop your skis off at one of our locations and we’ll do the hard work for you.