There are many wax categories: basic wax (hydrocarbons), graphites, fluorinated waxes, paste waxes, and rub-ons. Waxes affect boards differently, depending on snow conditions. Using the right wax will increase a rider’s enjoyment level by enhancing the board’s performance.
Iron-on waxes offer many benefits. They help to condition and protect the base, reduce friction, and increase glide and turning ability.
Rub-ons and paste waxes are easy and convenient, but do little to revitalize, condition, or protect bases and structures.
Here’s a primer of the different wax categories:
Economical and widely available, hydrocarbons are produced for many different temperatures and offer good glide against dry friction. They are also used for conditioning and protection of base structures.
While more costly than other wax types, fluorocarbons offer excellent glide in wet-, dirty-, and dry-snow conditions. It’s important to match the ratio of fluoro to the daily condition.
Not all waxes touting fluoro formulas perform the same. Perflouro is available from only a handful of labs in the world and costs around 550 dollars a pound, so be wary of low-priced fluorinated waxes.
In the case of graphites, less can be more. Graphites are measured by content and micros (size). Think of covering a snowboard base with fifteen pounds of five-pound bowling balls versus covering your base with five pounds of BBs. Which will offer better coverage? Of course, the five pounds of BBs.
Since this wax type is basically splintered graphite suspended in hydrocarbon wax, smaller micros not only offer better coverage, but also reduce dry friction.
This is a relatively new technology and has been successful in competition. Through a patented process of introducing fluorine gas with graphite, the molecular structure of the graphite is changed. The result is a flourographite polymer that offers excellent friction release in dry, capillary, mechanical, and static friction.
Accelerants are 100-percent fluorocarbon waxes, generally in powder form. They are costly and are designed to offer excellent low-end acceleration. Accelerants are sprinkled and burnished into a waxed and prepped base, and should be applied a few hours before competition. These products are effective for only about the first 100 to 300 yards of a course, but that acceleration for racing or getting big airs is critical for the competitive rider.
This is another relatively new category. Like accelerants, speed additives are 100-percent fluoro, but come in a solid form and are rubbed onto a base. Because speed additives have more mechanical strength to stick to a board, they are more cost-effective because they remain on the base for as many as two or three runs.
Remember, use fluoros for wet or dirty snow, graphites for cold/dry and warm/wet conditions; and for an extra boost, try flourographite polymers, accelerants, and speed additives.