Hi, this is Thanos Karydas from Dominator wax. I am a new member, but have been following the forum for a number of years.
The short answer is that rubbing the correct wax for the conditions most certainly works. Mike Desantis of Ski MD and one of the best tuners I know, advocates rubbing as the only suitable method for inexperienced tuners and juniors. My personal view is that rubbing wax is a method that can be used to bridge you between hot wax jobs or tweak the hot wax already on the base. The question is how long it will last and the short answer is that it depends on how often the base had been hot waxed and how abrasive the snow is. A rub-on wax will adhere a lot better on a base that has been hot waxed often than on a base that has never seen wax. Rubbing a wax with the proper technique may work all day on warm wet snow, but only for a run or two on cold, abrasive snow. So is it worth it? In my opinion it is because it takes very little material and time and it enhances the ride and keeps the base in good condition.
Now for the long answer: Looking at the basic concepts, the base and the snow contact each other through surface irregularities called asperities. When the base starts to move these asperities “tackle” each other, this is a simplified view of dry snow friction. The easiest way to visualize how wax works is to think of a deck of playing cards where the cards slide easily against each other when pushed sideways. Wax placed between the snow asperities and the base asperities causes the same kind of “slipping,” helping the base slide faster on snow, while cards are left behind. Then you eventually run out of cards and you have to re-wax.
SO IF THE CORRECT WAX IS BETWEEN THE BASE AND THE SNOW IT WILL WORK, REGARDLESS OF THE METHOD IT WAS DELIVERED THERE.
There are three delivery methods: hot waxing, rubbing a solid bar and rubbing a paste or spray. Let’s look at hot waxing:
The polyethylene base contains two types of “regions”, an amorphous region that absorbs wax and a crystalline region that does not. Both crystalline and amorphous regions are present in a base, around 50-50 in a competition grade base.
These are the key concepts:
- Wax can dissolve in the amorphous polyethylene regions as sugar dissolves in coffee. It does not go in the holes of the base as some manuals say. So by hot waxing you are introducing wax to the “core” of the base, not just the surface and the wax on the surface is more durable because it sticks to the wax in the core.
- More heat and more time means that more wax dissolves in the polyethylene until you reach the maximum capacity.
- When the base heats up it absorbs wax, when it cools down it expels wax. So you saturate the core by heating it, then once it cools down more and more wax forms on the surface and is finally scraped and brushed.
- Softer waxes are smaller so they dissolve more easily and penetrate deeper than harder waxes.
There is also a time element involved in hot waxing. Typical waiting times between hot waxing and scraping are overnight for very soft waxes, three hours for normal (pink, universal) waxes, one hour for cold range waxes, and around 15 minutes for extreme cold waxes. Going back to the deck of cards model:
- When the wax is melted (liquid), the cards are in random positions, away from each other.
- When the wax cools and solidifies, the cards are on top of each other but they are not stacked well and internal friction is high.
- After some time the cards organize themselves to the tight deck and the minimum internal friction.
- The cooling must be slow, if it happens too quickly (like taking the hot ski outside) the cards freeze in a position that has higher internal friction.
IF SUFFICIENT WAITING TIME IS NOT AVAILABLE, RUBBING A WAΧ OR USING PASTES IS THE BEST OPTION.
So I hope this has answered the rub vs. iron question. I will be happy to discuss further; I may not respond right away because I visit forums infrequently, but I will as soon as I see something.
Wishing everyone many happy powder turns for the New Year…