Snowboard Wax Buyer Guide

Andy Bowen

by Andy Bowen

July 5, 2019

Snowboard Wax

Snowboard wax is somewhat of a mystery for many new folks that are new in the winter delight called snowboarding. What they don’t realize is that waxing is a game changer, one whose influence cannot be ignored, nor it should be. Here we will explain what’s all the fuss about it, the types of wax on the market, and basically, anything in between that can help you make an informed decision when choosing wax for your snowboard.

Why Wax?

There are two prevailing reasons why wax is very important. One is that it prevents the snowboard base from oxidating, and the second one is it improves glide. Without wax, the snowboard will degrade much faster. Waxing the board tackles several degrading forces like:

  • Kinetic and wet friction – succumb with brushing and wax
  • Static and dirt friction – succumb with moly additives to the wax

What Needs Wax?

The snowboard base is somewhat of a sponge when it comes to wax. Eventually, as you glide through the slopes the wax will simply bleed out, but not before it protects the snowboard from all the harmful frictional forces that lead to oxidation, as well as to lubricate its surface for enhanced gliding.

Temperatures

Choosing the right temperature wax can be very significant if you plan to compete or you are generally competitive person. One that likes to be first even when hitting the slopes with your friends. Based on the temperature, waxes are split into three groups:

Cold Temperature

Cold temperature waxes are more suitable for dry and cold snow. This type of wax hardens much faster and gives the base structure much-improved gliding properties. Also, it lasts pretty long compared to other waxes.

Warm Temperature

As the name suggests, this type of wax is more suitable for wetter and warmer conditions. One of the main features of the warm temperature wax is that it allows the base to be a bit more resistant to suction. At the same time, it also means that it doesn’t tend to last too long.

All Temperature

On the other hand, if you are not that competitive, not trying to improve your speed every time on the slopes, the all temperature wax is good enough for you.

Warm, cold and all temperature are the three types of temperature specific waxes. However, the story of waxes doesn’t end here is there are more factors to consider than the temperature.

Various Types of Wax

Pro or an amateur you start with a hydrocarbon wax. Amateurs and recreational snowboarders don’t need anything else, but pros and those that like that extra edge usually add additives to the wax. Here’s what you need to know in this department.

Hydrocarbon Wax

This type of waxes is based on three types of hydrocarbons: synthetic, microcrystalline, and paraffin. Paraffin waxes have a candle-like feel, they are very soft, and feature a very low coefficient of friction. Thanks to the low coefficient of friction the snowboard can easily glide over snow crystals. Microcrystalline Waxes don’t wear off as easily as paraffin waxes, thus are way more durable.

Synthetic waxes are very durable as well and make the wax pretty strong. Molybdenum or graphite additives can counter the electrostatic effects that appear in the dry and cold snow, as well as dirt in the snow – all of which can slow you down. However, if you are into speed than molybdenum is far more suited than graphene. Fluorocarbon additives are hydroponic, which means they repel water molecules. That makes them perfect for wet and moist snow conditions.

Pro:

  • Very economical
  • Easy to play
  • Mixes nicely with all sorts of additives

Cons:

  • There are many waxes that can give you a much better edge in speed

Fluorinated wax

This type of wax is perfectly suitable for beginners and young snowboarders that are trying to work on their speed. It comes in a variety of mixtures, from low to high fluoro. The molybdenum version is the most wanted one that is specialized for dry snow.

Pro:

  • Fluorinated wax offers faster gliding than hydrocarbon wax.

Cons:

  • It is toxic and therefore it needs to be applied only in well-ventilated areas
  • Variation of the fluorinated wax can be a bit pricey.

Racing Wax

This is the real deal in terms of performance, but at the same time, it doesn’t come cheap. All sorts of mixtures go into the racing wax, each adding something special and unique.

Pro:

  • Used by some of the best snowboarders in the world.
  • The wax removes all technical limits, as your own skills and the slope determine how fast you can go.

Cons:

  • Performance comes with a price as these are the most expensive waxes on the market

Eco-Friendly Waxes

They are great for those that care greatly about the environment and with kids around. Most of them are made of soy. However, not all waxes are 100% eco-friendly and biodegradable. There are some that contain additives that don’t fall in the eco-friendly category, yet they are incorporated in an eco-friendly wax base formula.

Pro:

  • Don’t expect a top speed while using an eco-friendly wax
  • The ones that are 100% natural protect the environment and are non-toxic.

Cons:

  • Scraping an eco-friendly wax is very difficult

Rub-On Waxes

This type of wax has a bad reputation that comes mainly from the snowboarders that only recognize hot wax as the only proper way. Truth is quite opposite, rub-on waxes are perfectly suitable for those that are not into competitive snowboarding.

Pro:

  • Easy to use
  • Applying a run-on wax is fairly fast

Con:

  • Not suited for professional snowboarders

Base Material

Snowboard base comes in two types: sintered and extruded. Each is made from p-tex, and each has its own unique properties.

Extruded

The extruded bases are not too porous and as a result, they can’t absorb wax that well.

Sintered

The sintered bases are the opposite of that, they are very porous and have top absorption properties.

The unwaxed sintered base is somewhat slower than an unwaxed extruded base. But when both are waxed, then it is the sintered base that is way faster.

However, the story doesn’t end here as there are few more things to consider when searching for the perfect snowboard wax.

Top Factors To Take into Consideration

Above we explained the various types of snowboard wax, what they are made of, their main types, and so on. Here we will explain some of the most important factors that influence the type of wax you need to buy.

Air Temperature

As explained above, there are three types of temperature waxes: cold, warm, and all temperature wax. Pros and competitive snowboarders don’t use the all temperature wax and stick to either cold or warm temperature wax.

Some of the best even use both types. They use the cold temperature wax for the coldest days when the snow is dry. Then when the winter starts to lose its grip, they turn to the warm wax. That way they can make the most of their snowboards.

Air temperature can point to whether the slope’s snow is wet, dry, or maybe somewhere in between. Also, it will point to which additives to use and which ones are not needed.

For example, if the air temperature is 30F and the snow temperature is 20F, that means the snow is warming up. Typically, that happens in the morning. Later in the afternoon, the air tends to cool off, and the snow can now reach 30F, while the air temperature can be around 20F. That points to cooling of the snow.  The bottom line is snow temperature is predictable and it’s not that hard to guess which wax is best for that day or even week.

Snow crystals

Snow crystals can seriously damage your snowboard if you don’t use cold wax to protect it. They mainly appear when the surrounding and snow temperature is well below zero.

Many seasoned snowboarders further use abrasion-resistant additives that will make the snowboard base even more durable.

Humidity

Humidity is taken only in relation to the snow. To be more precise, humidity is used as a reference to determine the moisture in the snow. Now, the moisture in the snow, same as air temperature, can be a pretty strong hint what type of wax to use.

Wind

Wind can have a profound effect on the snow. For example, damp old snow or a new one can be easily dried by the wind. As a result, the snow can turn more aggressive and stronger wax additives are necessary. Even though the temperature of the snow stays exactly the same.

Sun

Strong sun is a game changer for many snowboarders. If it lights up strong and early in the morning can completely change the structure of the snow. That change calls for wax change and of its additives. At the same time, the lack of it can call for a different approach.

Snow Texture

Snow texture is by far the most relevant indication to what wax is optimal. Sometimes neither air temperature, humidity, wind, nor other factors can’t exactly determine the true condition of the snow. They might serve as strong hints, but small changes in the weather can cause drastic shifts in the condition of the snow. Then there is the snow texture which is 100% reliable, thus the perfect hint to what type of wax is ideal. Under certain conditions, the snow might be very damp, but at the same time to include very hard sharp crystals. Very often, that can be determined only by checking out the snow’s texture. If that’s the case, you will need a strong, abrasion-resistant wax that also has water-repellent features.

Snowboarding Wax FAQs

Do I need to wax a new snowboard?

All new snowboards come waxed and there is no need to bother putting a new layer of wax. But then again, keep in mind that is a factory wax for all temperatures and that it may not be as effective as a true hot wax. There is no telling how long it will last or how it will perform on different types of snow.

Should I clean the snowboard before I wax it?

So yes, the snowboard’s base needs to be fully cleaned and dirt free. Anything less than perfectly clean base will lead to loss of effectiveness of the wax and you won’t be able to make the most of your snowboard.

Can I use home iron to apply wax on my snowboard?

Yes, you can, but that’s not recommended. The thing with home irons is that their temperature is inconsistent and thus that can lead up to wax build up. Instead, it is for the best to use one designed for waxing. That way the entire waxing process is much easier and faster.

How do I need my snowboard needs waxing?

Most times you will be able to tell just by how it feels when you are on the slopes. Also, its base may look dry and white. Typically, the edges dry out first and they can serve as a sort of a hint whether your snowboard base needs waxing or not.

How often should I wax my snowboard?

That depends on many factors such as how often do you ride, the outside conditions, the construction of the base, are you competing, or are you there just for the fun of it. Some say that you need to wax it every three days, other claims that weekly is enough, while others claim something else. The answer cannot be quantified as there is too much to consider. Everyone decides for himself based on his or her preferences.

How hard is to wax a snowboard?

Fortunately, there are plenty of instructional videos on Youtube from where you can learn how to wax a snowboard. Most of them will guide you step by step and will make sure that they cover all the basics. Waxing a snowboard is no rocket science, but you do need to see how it’s done before you try and do it on your own.

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