How to Wax Your Skis Like a Pro!

If you've ever wanted to learn to wax your own skis, Ski Expert Cam Baker is here to help with an easy primer.

Ski tips with snowy mountains in the background

Photo by Robson Hatsukami Morgan

Ski waxing is the most important part of ensuring your skis maintain high performance. Thoroughly waxed skis are faster, smoother, and more predictable. Have you ever gone out on a warm spring day and it felt like you were skiing on carpet? There’s a good chance they needed a hot wax!

In this article, we’ll cover how often to wax your skis, the types of ski wax, common waxing equipment, wax application methods, how to scrape, and how to brush.

How often should I wax my skis?

In an ideal world, you would wax your skis after every day on the hill. A thoroughly hydrated ski base will not only be faster, but it will also be more resistant to abrasions when gouged. Obviously, many of us don’t have the time to wax our skis every single time we go for a couple of runs. Instead, try to wax your skis once a week, or every few times you ski. If it’s going to be more than a few days before heading out again, apply wax the night after skiing and wait to scrape until the night before you go. If it’s been too long since your skis have been waxed, you may notice characteristics of base burn on your skis. Look at the photo below. See how the bases have a white shade to them and a noticeable texture?

Base burn on the bottom of a ski

This is an indication that the bases are oxidizing. Oxidation will degrade the base and shorten its life. Waxing skis protects the bases from degradation. Ski bases are porous, allowing wax past the surface. When skis are properly waxed, the wax will seep out over time. This lubricates the base to help the ski glide and be more resistant to abrasion.

Types of wax

There are a few different types of waxes. The most common ski wax, a hot wax that you apply to the base of your skis by melting it, is made up of a blend of hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons have high durability and low friction, which is why it allows the ski to glide better. Fluorocarbon waxes are also fairly common; they are higher performance and will come with a higher price tag.

Waxes are generally categorized by temperature ranges and are rated for specific snow temperatures. They generally fall into one of three categories: cold weather, warm weather, or all temperatures, which you should use if you’re anticipating variable conditions. The all-temperature wax, or universal wax, is your best bet unless you have a good idea of the snow conditions you’ll be dealing with until your next wax.

While getting wax on skis is the most important part, choosing the right wax for the conditions will provide the best ski performance. If you’re unsure which specific wax to use, opt for the colder-rated option. Colder wax performs better in warmer temps than vice versa. You may find rub-on and liquid waxes as well. These are useful as a last-ditch effort if you don’t have time to give your skis proper treatment.


Getting the right equipment for waxing makes the process much easier and more enjoyable. First and foremost, grab a beer (or any drink that suits your fancy)! Working on skis is a great way to de-stress and relax. It’s easy to do and you’ll be super stoked to go skiing!

The most important piece of equipment is a ski-waxing-specific iron. A regular iron works in theory, but a ski waxing iron is great because it allows for superior temperature control. Also, you don’t want to get your clothes iron covered in wax!

You also need to find a way to secure the ski so it doesn’t shift while you are working on it. Ski waxing tables and a pair of vices work super well and make it easy to tune edges too. Then, use a rubber band or some string to hold back the brakes so they don’t get in your way.

Keep in mind you will need a wax scraper. I prefer a metal one for speed and precision, but plastic is easier to use and safer for the ski base. And for optimal results, either a nylon brush or a horsehair brush is a great investment. You could even pick up a set of brushes made specifically for working on skis and snowboards. In a set, you’ll get multiple brushes, each of a different stiffness. Some will be nylon and some will be horsehair. These are great for removing the last bits of wax without inflicting damage on the base of the ski.

Applying Wax

Now for the moment, you’ve all been waiting for, waxing the skis! The goal here is to soak wax into the base and leave as little as possible sitting on top.

First, clean the base of the ski of any dirt or old wax. You can purchase base cleaner or apply a warm-weather wax and scrape it while hot. A wet rag can even get most of the dirt off.

The most common method of applying wax is to hold the brick against the iron so that wax melts and drips off the iron onto the ski. It is helpful to hold the iron vertically and tilt it a little so that the wax only drips off of one corner. This makes dripping more predictable so that you don’t miss. It’s also best to continuously rub the wax in circles on the iron so it doesn’t get stuck in place. Set the iron to a temperature where it will quickly melt wax without vaporizing any. If the iron is producing smoke, you can tell it’s too hot.

Drip a line of wax down the ski. If you have powder skis, you may want to drip two or three lines. You’ll get a feel for this as you go. You don’t need to completely cover the base in wax here - just deposit enough to spread around the ski.

Dripping wax onto a ski

Dripping wax onto the ski. Photo by Cam Baker

You can also use a different method of applying wax - and honestly, I prefer this one. I touch the brick of wax to the iron to melt it a little WITHOUT holding it on for long enough to start dripping. Then, I drag the melted face of the wax across the ski, depositing a streak of wax. Repeat this to cover the length of the ski with wax. I like this method better because it conserves wax, while the drip method typically creates more excess.

The base of a ski covered in wax droplets

The right amount of dripped wax on a ski. Photo by Cam Baker

Regardless of which method you use, once you’ve applied wax onto the ski, make long slow strokes or small circles with your iron to spread the wax across the base. Move slowly so the ski can get hot enough for wax to penetrate deep into the base. The heat opens up the pores of the base making it easier for wax to sink in.

It’s important however to always keep the iron moving. Leaving it over one spot for too long can burn the base material! One way to tell if you’re heating the ski enough is to touch the top sheet. After a few passes with the iron, it will feel warm. This is an indication that the base is hot and accepting the wax. You want the ski to be warm but not hot. When the ski is too hot it’s possible to loosen glue and laminate.

A hand touches a ski to check the temperature

Touch your hand to the top sheet near the tip or tail to feel for warmth! Photo by Cam Baker

Do at least 10 slow passes. If you feel the ski isn’t warm yet keep going. Once you’re satisfied the wax has soaked in, set the ski aside to cool. It’s best to let the ski completely cool. Wax will continue to set for a while once you’re no longer ironing. I like to leave the ski overnight if possible. The longer the better!

Scraping and Brushing

After the ski has cooled, you need to scrape and brush the base to remove all excess wax. If wax is left covering the base, snow crystals will dig into it and slow you down.

Scraping the ski is very straightforward. It’s best to scrape from tip to tail since you ski forwards more than switch most likely. Hold the scraper at an angle so one edge contacts the base. If you have a plastic scraper, push down hard - you won’t hurt the ski! If you’re using metal, bend the scraper so that only the middle of it contacts the ski and push down firmly but not too hard. If you are seeing material the color of your bases coming up with the wax you’re pushing too hard!

Scraping excess wax off

Scraping excess wax off. Photo by Cam Baker

Scrape as much wax off as you can; the idea is to remove as much as possible. If you have brushes, use them after scraping. Start with the stiffest brush, after a few passes switch to the next stiffest and repeat until you’ve used your softest brush.

Brushing the ski. Photo by Cam Baker

A Few Pointers

While learning ski tuning on a bench in your garage can be more fulfilling than taking your gear to a ski shop, it can seem intimidating at first. When asked for tips for skiers learning how to wax skis at home, the other Winter Sports Experts at Curated came up with a few hints for those learning how to maintain skis and snowboards.

  1. If you need to apply cold wax at room temperature from a company such as Swix, make sure that it is liquid wax for alpine skis. Some cross-country or nordic wax is designed to increase friction with the snow. The worst feeling in the world is showing up to the slopes with an entire base that has been wiped with chemicals meant to slow you down! Luckily, Alpine skiers don’t need to worry about the complexities of grip zone wax and glide wax.
  2. How often to wax skis depends on a few different factors, none of which are absolute. Racers need to wax frequently since they respond to changing snow conditions with a completely different wax. But for most skiers who just want rust-free gear and ski edges without burrs, frequent ski waxing is also a great opportunity to inspect your skis for gouges and other damage. Even if you don’t take a diamond stone to each minor blemish, learning how to wax skis at home gives you a chance to spot problems like corrosion and core shots and fix them before things get worse.
  3. One of the most frustrating aspects of learning how to wax skis at home can be dealing with the ski brakes when removing excess cold wax with a scraper. By ensuring you have a secure way to retract the ski brakes before you begin waxing, you’ll save yourself time and frustration later, as well as prevent problems such as burning the plastic on your ski brakes with the iron, or even worse: pinching your hand between the brakes and your ski edge.
  4. Modern ski waxes and snowboard waxes can appear like alphabet soup: from PFAS to surfactants, understanding the ingredients in wax formulations can challenge even professionals. A century ago, skiers chose between paraffin candle wax or pine tar and oil, while today we choose between temperature-specific waxes. Over that century, modern ski waxes like fluorinated waxes (aka “fluoro” waxes) have allowed skiers to go longer between wax applications and enjoy better performance along the way. However, some of the same chemicals that gave these high-end waxes the properties chemists desired also posed health risks to both the professionals performing many wax applications a year, as well as the watershed that this wax ran into. As places like Europe considered bans on these chemicals, high-end waxes without these “forever chemicals” became more popular. Today, everyone from established ski wax manufacturers to the international ski federation understands the need to move away from those ingredients. While a chemical may work well as a lubricant at a certain temp, if ski wax and snowboard wax ruin our ski resorts and our passion for snow, then it’s clear we need to move away from HF wax.
  5. While taking your skis into the ski shop for a base grind and edge sharpening can be very convenient, it does wear down your bases and edges over time. Because certain ski shops need fast and repeatable procedures for maintenance and repair, having a ski shop resurface your entire base and perform edge work will remove more material than you would in your garage. Learning how to wax skis at home will give you a chance to use a diamond file to fix minor scratches without needing to file away more than necessary.

Final Thoughts

Waxing skis is fun and will improve the performance and life of the ski. After your last day of skiing for the year, throw a coat of warm weather or all-temperature wax on but don’t scrape! A summer coat of wax on your skis will keep them from drying out while in storage. You can also just ski every day and you’ll never need to put storage wax on.

To fix a burnt ski base, take your skis to the shop and have them stone ground. This will remove the surface layer and restructure your base making them good as new!

Two other great DIY practices are edge tuning and base repair. An edge tuning kit will help you keep your skis locked in on groomers and hard snow. A stick of P-Tex is super helpful if you hit a rock and need to cover up a core shot. This is done to prevent water from seeping into the core of the ski.

Hopefully these tips set you on your way to becoming an avid home ski tech! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me or one of my fellow Ski Experts here on Curated for free advice and recommendations. See ya out there!

Meet the author
Ski Expert Cam Baker
Cam Baker
Ski Expert
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Written By
Cam Baker
Cam Baker
Ski Expert
Hi, I'm Cam! I've been skiing my entire life and have always been fascinated with learning about what makes different skis preform in different ways. ​ I took this job to spread my love and knowledge of the industry, and I have spent weeks to months working with individual customers to meet their ne...
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