I have been receiving many calls recently from skiers who are having trouble keeping their ski bases from looking dry.
The conversation usually goes something like this, "My bases look worn, mainly along the edges, and I keep hot waxing them with a hard wax to protect them from abrasion, but they look dry again after just one day of skiing".
For those of you who are just starting to wax your skis, or do not yet understand how waxes interface with the base material, you should understand that hard waxes, while doing a good job of resisting abrasion from the snow crystals as you ski, do not deeply penetrate the base when applying with an iron and stay mainly on the surface of the base. Since hard waxes do not penetrate and do not adhere well to the base, then they easily burn off again leaving your base looking dry and worn.
Conversely, soft waxes do not resist abrasion as well as hard waxes, but they penetrate and saturate the base much better than hard waxes and act as a primer (or binder) which holds the hard waxes on, thus creating real durability and long lasting wax performance.
In a nutshell, hard waxes hold on to soft waxes better than they adhere to base material while soft waxes hold on to the base better than hard waxes and this is why it is important to prep (hot wax) your skis first with a base prep (or soft wax) when they are new, freshly ground or looking dry.
Once the ski base has been saturated with a prep wax and allowed to cool, then scrape, brush and apply a harder glide wax over the top. Let that hard glide wax cool, then scrape, brush and enjoy longer lasting performance and juicy looking bases.
Hope that helps those of you who are just understanding the benefits of good base prep habits.