Five Steps To A Faster Ride

By Franklin Crowe

How many times have you had to unstrap and skate through the flats, come up short on a jump, been left behind by your crew, struggled through the flatbottom of a pipe, outrun an avalanche (just happened to me in New Zealand), or just felt sticky all around the mountain? The one common denominator to solving all these issues is a good hot wax on your board. An iron, quality wax, and a scraper are all you need. It’s easy to do, inexpensive, and it’ll maximize your fun on the hill, guaranteed.

The base of your shred stick is made of an ultra-high molecular-weight (UHMW) plastic. It’s porous, like your skin, and just like your mug, it needs to be cleaned and moisturized every so often. Waxing your board does both. I’ve seen a lot of riders and shops use base cleaner to get the dirt and gunk off their boards. True, it’ll clean almost anything, but the solvents found in the stuff are way too harsh for a board’s base-it’s like cleaning your face with bleach.

Instead, “hot scrape” your board with wax to clean and lubricate it at the same time. First, wipe your board down with a towel or rag to get rid of surface water and dirt. You should let your board warm up to room temperature before using an iron on it. Lay your board down base up (it’s way easier to work on your board if it’s on a set of vices). Although it’s possible to use an old clothes iron, there’s no way to regulate the temperature. “Permanent Press” is way too hot and will burn your base (potentially melting and ruining it!), and “Delicates” isn’t hot enough. A good waxing iron is designed with adjustable temps to melt wax quickly but not melt the base or smoke like crazy (that’s a bad sign-turn the iron temp down).

Now get your wax. There’re a lot of wax companies out there, and most are very small “garage” companies that are using candle and crayon-like materials that are very inexpensive and low-quality. Larger companies like SWIX, Burton, and Bluebird use materials that are specific to your board’s base and are still affordable (fifteen to twenty dollars for the whole season!).

For hot scraping, choose a softer wax (easy to carve into with your fingernail). Touch the wax bar to your heated iron for a second or two, then “crayon” (rub) the melted end along the base of your board. Repeat until the entire base is covered with a thin layer of wax. Now, melt the wax into your board by running the iron from end to end, starting at one edge. It’s kind of like mowing your lawn. Go slow enough to liquify the wax, but don’t ever hold the iron in one place. You know you’ve heated it enough when the topsheet of the board starts to get warm.

Once the wax is melted in, turn your iron all the way down or unplug it to prevent smoking. While the wax is still warm, take a plastic scraper and scrape your entire board from end to end. Before your eyes, you’ll see the dark marks on your base (from rails, boxes, dirt, etc.) disappear and end up in the wax shavings.

After your board cools to room temp, you’re ready to wax for the day. Now choose a wax that will work for the conditions. Harder waxes are for colder conditions (new snow, ice), while softer waxes are for warmer conditions (sunny, slushy). Universal waxes are great because they cover almost all “normal” conditions.

Spread the wax and melt it in, exactly like hot scraping.

This time, let the wax cool (for at least a half hour-overnight is best) before you scrape the excess off. That’s it, super easy.

To make it even easier, SWIX offers an affordable iron (around 50 dollars) that works with a special tissue-like paper that clips onto it. After crayoning the wax onto your board you clip the paper to the iron so it’s between the iron plate and your base. Now, just mow the lawn. The cool thing is that the paper will soak up any of the excess wax and most of the dirt on your base. It’s a one-step quick fix for a smooth ride.

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A perfectly waaxed snowboard will serve you well whether it’s on a cattrack, in the pipe, shredding pow, or like J.P. Solberg here, hitting a gap jump in Chile where coming up short just isn’t an option.

Photo: Dean “Blotto” Gray