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Waxing: How hot is too hot?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hello, everybody.

 

I've been waxing skis for both myself (strictly recreational) and my daughter (semi-committed racing D-team) for the past three years, and thought I pretty much had it down (after some fairly ugly initial goofs, of course).

 

Recently I've seen something that makes me wonder, though.   I've been cautiously increasing the heat and number of passes, in an attempt to get colder waxes (e.g., FastWax HS0 or HS10) to stick enough that scraping doesn't just pop off parts of the layer of wax I just laid down.   At the same time, I've started noticing a kind of "structure" showing up in the wax, though.   On my daughter's skis, this takes the form of a grid pattern, primarily up near the shovel of the ski.   Note that as far as I can tell, the base is still flat:  it's just that the pattern shows up because the wax cools at different rates in different places, and thus the grid, spacing between 1/8 and 1/4 in (so, 0.5cm?).

 

On my skis, it's different:  I get a wavy pattern along the edges, again with a spacing of about 0.5 cm, where thicker and thinner areas of wax alternate.    In this case, there is actually some unevenness in the base---that wavy pattern shows up in the base itself, faintly, but only right along the edges.    These skis are new, and I haven't had them stone ground:  just filed the side edges, started waxing, and started skiing.   Putting the closest thing I have to a true bar to the bases, they're a little concave at tips and tails, and even very slightly concave in towards the bindings.

 

So, two questions:

 

 1) In either case, do the patterns showing up indicate that I'm overheating the ski?   I'm *still* getting wax popping off the base when I scrape, at least locally.

 

2) Is there any reason to think the wavy pattern along the edges on my skis came on the skis, as opposed to being something I'm doing to screw them up?

 

Thanks very much for any pointers or explanations:   I really like how the skis glide and edge when I get it right, but the fine line between hot enough for the wax to melt properly and hot enough to damage the ski is still (obviously!) a source of some anxiety.

 

 

post #2 of 16

The waxing iron should be hot enough to melt wax but not smoke the wax, but actually a little bit of smoke is ok. Just keep the iron moving. The ski can get warm enough for it to loose its camber, but camber (if the ski has any to start with) will return as the ski cools. Let the ski sit overnight before scraping.

post #3 of 16

i think my tip would be to use less wax.  if it's popping off, maybe you have too much wax so you are only heating/reheating the top layer of wax, which causes it to form layers on itself and with the ski (like avalanche snow)

 

Try the touch and smear technique and try a waxing with just a very light coat of the wax.

from slidewright:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22n4w0uferc

 

When I touch and smear, I make sure to go over the smeared part immediately with the iron so you get the wamed wax immediately spread out (vs smearing the whole ski and the wax re-cooling)

 

Also, if your wax is hard, after the cooling period, try a warming up with the iron to do a light warmscrape.  If you just run the iron over quickly (not to molten), it should just soften up the top layer and only affect the wax you're going to get rid of.

 

Another thing is maybe you got some contamination in your ski, and it might be worth a try to do a  base-cleaning if you never did it (or at least dishsoapy water and a scotchbrite).


Edited by raytseng - 2/24/12 at 12:51am
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 

raytseng and DanoT, thanks for the pointers.

 

I hadn't thought about reheating before doing the "cold" scrape.

 

post #5 of 16

For very hard waxes you don't have to wait for the wax/base to cool.  It's ok to scrape it while it's still warm.

post #6 of 16

Be sure you scrape like this..../ >  and not like this \ >. 

post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks.   

 

I've got the angle on the scraper right.   But I haven't tried scraping still warm.  Still wishing there was an easy way to tell if the base is getting too hot----I'm starting to think those wavy bits by the edges are just that kind of sign.

 

post #8 of 16

While impossible to tell exactly, it seems as if you have a dedicated waxing iron and a number of different waxes.

 

To your initial question of how hot is too hot,  any hotter than what is listed on the wax (somewhere from 110-150 C usually) is often to hot.  (I personally go lower than the temp so I dont burn the bases)

 

To the point of the wax popping/flaking off, I have found that doing one of two things fixes this:

1). Don't put on so much wax.  As raytseng said you are only heating up the top layer of wax, leaving the bottom un-binded with the ski base.

2). If this doesn't work you can try the following.  Once you initially spread out your "splatter" (wax) evenly, then in a couple of slow passes run your iron down the ski.  Do this until after the iron passes over a spot it leaves a wet glean for a second or two.  Remember slow but dont stop. 

 

If your wax doesn't give you a temp but you know the name a quick internet search should yield an result

post #9 of 16

When I wax I can feel heat through the other side of the ski but not in the middle where the ski is thicker.  Also, depending on how much base thickness you have, you will possibly see the edge material outlined under the base 1/4 inch or less due to it heating up and being so close to the base. If you are too hot, you might feel ripples in the base there when cold.

 

I iron at about 125c but do not have a digital iron, not too accurate. I set it to just a bit cooler than smoke, maybe 5 degrees. There are youtube vids on waxing.  If you watch several of them you might figure more of this out.  Some say for the wax to stay liquid about 6" behind the iron, but that all depends on how fast you move, at what heat.

 

I wax nearly every day and used to worry about too much heat but no longer do.  Recently I skied on partly man-made and noticed my wax flake off when scraping. I suspected dirty or oily snow and wiped with alcohol the next time and that problem went away.  I'll get some base cleaner one of these days, I believe it makes sense.

 

 

post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by skisalot View Post

While impossible to tell exactly, it seems as if you have a dedicated waxing iron and a number of different waxes.

 

To your initial question of how hot is too hot,  any hotter than what is listed on the wax (somewhere from 110-150 C usually) is often to hot.  (I personally go lower than the temp so I dont burn the bases)

 

To the point of the wax popping/flaking off, I have found that doing one of two things fixes this:

1). Don't put on so much wax.  As raytseng said you are only heating up the top layer of wax, leaving the bottom un-binded with the ski base.

2). If this doesn't work you can try the following.  Once you initially spread out your "splatter" (wax) evenly, then in a couple of slow passes run your iron down the ski.  Do this until after the iron passes over a spot it leaves a wet glean for a second or two.  Remember slow but dont stop. 

 

If your wax doesn't give you a temp but you know the name a quick internet search should yield an result


I've got a dedicated iron (800W Toko) but not digital, and I don't entirely trust the temp settings.  The warmest I generally run it at (for FastWax HS10) is AFAICT 275 F = 140 C (approx.).

 

In attempting to get the wax not to pop off, I'm already doing multiple passes.   Even when I do this to the point where the wax is clearly melted all the way down to the base, and stays that way for quite a bit more than a second or two (long enough that that's one of the things that worries me).   Still pops.   I could try the Fiberlene Pro under the iron trick to keep the wax layer thinner, maybe?


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowfan View Post

When I wax I can feel heat through the other side of the ski but not in the middle where the ski is thicker.  Also, depending on how much base thickness you have, you will possibly see the edge material outlined under the base 1/4 inch or less due to it heating up and being so close to the base. If you are too hot, you might feel ripples in the base there when cold.

 

I iron at about 125c but do not have a digital iron, not too accurate. I set it to just a bit cooler than smoke, maybe 5 degrees. There are youtube vids on waxing.  If you watch several of them you might figure more of this out.  Some say for the wax to stay liquid about 6" behind the iron, but that all depends on how fast you move, at what heat.

 

I wax nearly every day and used to worry about too much heat but no longer do.  Recently I skied on partly man-made and noticed my wax flake off when scraping. I suspected dirty or oily snow and wiped with alcohol the next time and that problem went away.  I'll get some base cleaner one of these days, I believe it makes sense.

 

 

 

Ok, the ripples you describe sound pretty familiar.   So the issue is whether they're persistent once it cools?  I've done a fair amount of reading/watching on waxing, which is good for the basic procedure, but less so for pushing the edge of things, which this is starting to feel like.

 

The point about man-made snow is a great one:   around here, that's really absolutely all we've got, and all I've been riding on for the whole season.   So if that's got some kind of contaminant, that could easily be the problem.    Guess I should be a lot more regular about hot scraping...

 


 

 

post #11 of 16


It's generally hard to diagnose a problem without a photo or video, but to me this sounds like the base does not absord wax.

 

You typically get ridges if the iron is not hot enough to melt all the components of the wax, or if the base does not absorb wax. From what you write it appears that the iron is hot enough, but just to make sure: The iron setting is correct when you see a very light wisp of smoke when the iron is not touching the base but no smoke at all when the iron is moving slowly on the base. Patience is your friend as you increase the iron setting to this point. The setting will be different for different waxes and some people mark the dial with a marker on nail polish for the waxes they commonly use.

 

It may be a good time to get a grind. This will refresh the base surface and give you a good starting point even if your problem is not the one I suspect (a heat-sealed base). It will take you a couple of hours to bring the base to prime condition after the grind, but in my opinion it is well worth it.


 

Quote:

The point about man-made snow is a great one:   around here, that's really absolutely all we've got, and all I've been riding on for the whole season.  

A less probable explanation is that your base is dry and does not absorb wax very well.  If you have been waxing repeatedly for man-made snow without conditioning the base, the hard waxes could be drying your base by pulling the softer waxes from your base "reservoir". Drying your base by repetitive waxing sounds oxymoronic but repetitive waxing with very hard haxes will do that. The softer waxes facilitate the absorption of harder waxes by the base and it is necessary to condition the base frequetly with a softer glide wax or with a base conditioner. Hot scrape a couple of times (if the wax scrapes off dirty, keep hot scraping till it's clean) with the softest hydrocarbon you have (use the stiffest brush you have when you do that, I use a soft, fine steel), then put another coat of the soft wax and let it sit overnight. Check the appearence and how it scrapes.  If the problem has dosappeared, wax for the day with your man-made snow wax and see what happens. If things don't change get a stone grind.  If for whatever reason a stonegrind is not an option, a rub-on or paste wax will save time, money and frustration and give the same effect as hot waxing.

post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowfan View Post

Be sure you scrape like this..../ >  and not like this \ >. 



Oh crap!  I did it wrong!

 

All these years. th_dunno-1[1].gif

post #13 of 16

Another thing to try, just as a test, I try waxing with a much warmer wax (be sure to lower the temp setting).  I know that Thanos K mentioned it for reconditioning the bases but before that just do it to see if the wax will be absorbed by the ski.

Im not sure how easily the temp ranges work across brands but I do know that the Swix wax from a similar range found here has a suggested Iron setting of 150 C. But for fear of giving bad advice I am not telling you do that but rather giving you information that might help.

If I could be there I would be able to tell you for sure but I feel like you might be using to much.  This is fixed by using  less wax as opposed to other tricks.  

Good luck with your trials

post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 

Wow, lots of useful detail.

 

First, sorry for not posting a picture---I'm new to this, and haven't quite figured out how to do that yet.   But I'll post a pic the next time I've got a question like this.

 

Regarding wax temp, I'm getting the light wisp described.  If it's heavier than that, I turn the iron down.

 

Both Thanos K and skisalot suggest trying to use a warmer wax, which I have done, repeatedly---FastWax Base Prep, as a first layer most times I wax (which is pretty much after every ski day).   That wax does not pop off, anywhere.  The areas that do not seem to absorb it as well (that stay a slightly lighter color) are directly under the bindings in a way that suggest that's related to wear, rather than overheating.   The areas where the harder wax (HS 20) pops off do not correlate with those lighter areas---they can be anywhere on the ski, frequently but not always along the edges.

 

Based on what you guys have said, I'm going to try hot-scraping, then a couple coats of base prep.   If I've got a uniform base color after that, great.   If not, sounds like it's time for a base grind.

 

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to weigh in.


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thanos K View Post


It's generally hard to diagnose a problem without a photo or video, but to me this sounds like the base does not absord wax.

 

You typically get ridges if the iron is not hot enough to melt all the components of the wax, or if the base does not absorb wax. From what you write it appears that the iron is hot enough, but just to make sure: The iron setting is correct when you see a very light wisp of smoke when the iron is not touching the base but no smoke at all when the iron is moving slowly on the base. Patience is your friend as you increase the iron setting to this point. The setting will be different for different waxes and some people mark the dial with a marker on nail polish for the waxes they commonly use.

 

It may be a good time to get a grind. This will refresh the base surface and give you a good starting point even if your problem is not the one I suspect (a heat-sealed base). It will take you a couple of hours to bring the base to prime condition after the grind, but in my opinion it is well worth it.


 

Quote:

The point about man-made snow is a great one:   around here, that's really absolutely all we've got, and all I've been riding on for the whole season.  

A less probable explanation is that your base is dry and does not absorb wax very well.  If you have been waxing repeatedly for man-made snow without conditioning the base, the hard waxes could be drying your base by pulling the softer waxes from your base "reservoir". Drying your base by repetitive waxing sounds oxymoronic but repetitive waxing with very hard haxes will do that. The softer waxes facilitate the absorption of harder waxes by the base and it is necessary to condition the base frequetly with a softer glide wax or with a base conditioner. Hot scrape a couple of times (if the wax scrapes off dirty, keep hot scraping till it's clean) with the softest hydrocarbon you have (use the stiffest brush you have when you do that, I use a soft, fine steel), then put another coat of the soft wax and let it sit overnight. Check the appearence and how it scrapes.  If the problem has dosappeared, wax for the day with your man-made snow wax and see what happens. If things don't change get a stone grind.  If for whatever reason a stonegrind is not an option, a rub-on or paste wax will save time, money and frustration and give the same effect as hot waxing.


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by skisalot View Post

Another thing to try, just as a test, I try waxing with a much warmer wax (be sure to lower the temp setting).  I know that Thanos K mentioned it for reconditioning the bases but before that just do it to see if the wax will be absorbed by the ski.

Im not sure how easily the temp ranges work across brands but I do know that the Swix wax from a similar range found here has a suggested Iron setting of 150 C. But for fear of giving bad advice I am not telling you do that but rather giving you information that might help.

If I could be there I would be able to tell you for sure but I feel like you might be using to much.  This is fixed by using  less wax as opposed to other tricks.  

Good luck with your trials



 

post #15 of 16

Fiberlene.  That is all.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowObstacle View Post


I've got a dedicated iron (800W Toko) but not digital, and I don't entirely trust the temp settings.  The warmest I generally run it at (for FastWax HS10) is AFAICT 275 F = 140 C (approx.).

 

In attempting to get the wax not to pop off, I'm already doing multiple passes.   Even when I do this to the point where the wax is clearly melted all the way down to the base, and stays that way for quite a bit more than a second or two (long enough that that's one of the things that worries me).   Still pops.   I could try the Fiberlene Pro under the iron trick to keep the wax layer thinner, maybe?


 

 

Ok, the ripples you describe sound pretty familiar.   So the issue is whether they're persistent once it cools?  I've done a fair amount of reading/watching on waxing, which is good for the basic procedure, but less so for pushing the edge of things, which this is starting to feel like.

 

The point about man-made snow is a great one:   around here, that's really absolutely all we've got, and all I've been riding on for the whole season.   So if that's got some kind of contaminant, that could easily be the problem.    Guess I should be a lot more regular about hot scraping...

 


 

 



 

post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 

Just checking back in with a progress report:  hot-scraping the skis brought up a lot of gunk, some of which actually looks like old wax (black/dark green, harder than the base prep I'm scraping with) out to the third hot scrape.  Followed by a couple of layers of warm wax, not popping off, without Fiberlene.

 

Followed by a couple of layers of harder wax (FastWax HS10), which is exactly what was popping of before, with Fiberlene under the iron on the last pass.   No popping (yay!).

 

One interesting thing discovered in this experiment is that apparently you need to turn the iron up to compensate for the intervening Fiberlene sheet.   Aside from that, it worked like a dream.

 

Thanks again for all the suggestions.   Think I've got a new waxing routine dialed in.

 

[edited to correct the description of the cold wax...]

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