Bit Off Topic: Wax On… Wax Off…

With Snowboard/Ski Season is around the corner, it’s time to prep!
In the winter, some people love the Christmas Cookies, others can get enough Eggnog, my biggest winter addiction is Snowbarding. For those of you that love to rip the Pow, I thought I would share some “prep” knowledge. It’s not all about iPhones around here… although I will be reviewing a few snowbound iPhone apps shortly.

How a snowboard base works (It’s the motion of the ocean!):
If you take the time to put a snowboard down on the ground, and look at it, you’ll notice the tip and tail contact first, and the rest of the board arcs up. This is known as camber. Camber serves a multitude of purposes, such as turning, popping, and more. It’s purpose in relationship to the base, and movement, is that when the board has weight put on it, the weight is primarily distributed to the tip and tail. Wax in itself isn’t actually very slick. However, wax and water is a slick combination. Wax and snow… not so much. What makes a board move is that there is so much friction from the interaction of the wax on the board, and the pressure at the pressure point (nose) that it acutally MELTS the snow, and you ride on a thin layer of water. If you’ve ever followed behind a buddy, and notice they left a particularly shiney trail behind them, it’s because the water they melted promptly froze once the friction was removed.

Waxing a snowboard: How you get wax ON INTO a board… and what’s a bunch of BS:
Why you hotwax a snowboard. The reason is simple actually. A base, is a porous material. It becomes exceptionally porous when heated, because the molecules expand. At this point, the liquid heated wax is free to flow inbetween the expanded molecules of the base, and thereby the base ABSORBS the wax. When the base cools it settles, and retains the wax inside.

WAX IS NOT A LAYER ONTOP OF YOUR BASE, IT IS IN YOUR BASE!
When it comes to waxing, considering which wax to get is a big factor.
TEMPERATURE: For the most part you can get away with all temperature wax on any given day. However, to really be fast, a wax aimed for the general temperature range in which you will operate is best.
Rub on wax is a silly concept. You’re trying to forcefully jam SOLID molecules of wax, through solid molecules of base. You’ve got three chances of actually accomplishing this: A fat chance, a slim chance, and no chance. You might get some wax slightly in there, but it’ll last all of twenty minutes. It’s a scam for lazy people. Dont believe the hype! It will increase how slippery your riding surface is however, so there is that benefit. It serves a minimal gain at your contact points. Rub on liquid waxes, along with rain-x and all those other stupid ideas are silly as well. They come out of the board just as easily as they go onto the board…

How to wax your snowboard: Wax On… Wax Off…
Here are the steps for the most thurough waxing.

1. Loosen your bindings from your board:
You don’t have to remove your bindings, just loosen the screws. This allows the board to relax while you apply the wax.

2. Remove old wax / clean base:
Cleaning the base of old wax, dirt, and other things that get in there is a good thing to do once in a while. Depending on how often you ride, it may be a good idea to do this every so often. MOST riders won’t need to do this more then once a year.

3. Wax that base:
Start by getting your iron to an ideal temperature. YES you can use a laundry iron. Simply adjust the temperature to be right between cotton and wool, and if the iron starts smoking promptly remove it from the board/wax and adjust the temperature DOWN (towards off).
Press the wax that you have against the iron, and drip so as the board is fairly well covered. Be sure to thuroughly dose the edges as they are your primary riding surface. Once the board is covered a fair bit in wax (a drip per square inch), apply the iron to the base which is covered in wax. Travel in SLOW circular motions, and heat up all the wax and spread it out accross the base. You will want to do this until you can feel the opposite side of the board being warm for the better part of the board. (DO NOT LET YOUR BOARD GET HOT TO THE TOUCH) This ensures that the base has warmed up and expanded to absorb all of the wax that it can.

At this point, let the base cool all the way down. Walk away for a good twenty minutes or so. At this point there is the option to “deep soak” your base, which is where you repeat the prior process described, adding additional wax as you feel is nescessary. By repeating the soaking process 2-3 times you esnure that the base truely has soaked up all of the wax that it can, and helps ensure the longevity of it. I advise waxing your board like this at the start of every season. When waxing your board mid season you generally only need to do a single soak, as just your edges will run dry.

4. Scraping the excess wax off the board:
As the wax is soaked into the base, everything that can be scraped off is excess. You can buy a scraper at a shop for cheap (go generic with scrapers to save $). Start at one end of the board (tip or tail) and drag the scraper down the board, removing the excess wax. NEVER go horizontally as you may damage the boards base and it’s structure. Proceed until all the excess wax has been removed. BE THUROUGH! Excess wax just results in additional friction, and as it is poorly shaped (unlike a smooth base) it will resist water flowing over it. Wax is NOT slick remember…

So once you’ve thuroughly removed all excess wax, you’ll want to buff your board. Scotch Brite pads actually work the best. Get em, rub the piss out of your boad, and it’ll come out smooth. Once again, tip to tail. Once that is done, and the board is smooth, you’ll want to STRUCTURE the base. You do this with a stiff bristled brush (I use a nylon firm brush). You drag from tip to tail, and give it some pressure. This leaves grooves in the waxed base. These grooves allow water to travel faster accross the base, resulting in you traveling faster down the mountain. It also helps reduce the suction cup effect of two smooth surfaces with water inbetween them. A brush can be bought at your snowboard shop for $12-15, or a brush can be bought at a hardware store for $4. The choice is yours… BIG THANKS to CaptainOwns and SnowboardingForum.com for the wealth of Information!

Once that’s done, your board is done! It’s ready to rip! Get out there and enjoy your properly waxed snowboard! If you enjoyed this, don’t be shy, leave a comment!

Items to purchase at your snowboard shop and/or hardware store:
1. Cleaning: A gallon of kerosine or lamp oil Unscented.
2. Ski/Snowboard Wax (I like Swix)
3. Scotch brite pads.
4. A hard bristled wide brush.
5. Fiberglass rectangle for scraping board (I would stick with snowboard shop scrappers)
6. An Iron (I have a waxing Iron, but you can use a normal cloths iron)

Other Important Notes:
a. Leave wax in your snowboard over the summer. It helps prevent the base from being damage.
b. Always wax a snowboard when you get it. They say they wax a snowboard at the factory… but it’s half assed at best. Not waxing it may result in damage, ESPESCIALLY if it’s a high quality base.

What do I ride, you ask?
Board: K2 Zeppelin 2008-09 (What a coincidence)
Bindings: Burton Triad
Boot: Burton – Jeremy Jones (Black/White)

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