Whilst there are no fixed rules for how often you should wax your board, a freshly waxed board will generally start to lose wax and begin to slide less well after about 3-5 days of riding.
There are a few factors which can affect how long wax will last:
- How hard the snow is – fresh, pluffy powder is less abrasive on your board then old, icy snow. In my experience this can mean that wax will rub off on hard conditions 4x faster than on soft snow
- If you are using hot wax which lasts longer than rub-on wax
- How heavy the rider is – heavy riders will create more pressure under the base of the board which will rub the wax off quicker then a lighter rider will
- How you ride your board – beginners who do a lot of side slipping and skidded turns will scrape away the wax faster than a more experienced rider who does smooth rounded turns
- What the base of the board is made of – Generally speaking there are 2 types of snowboard base: Extruded bases are found on cheaper boards and whilst these are easier the repare if you hit a rock and put a hole in the bas, they do tend to dry out quicker. Sintered bases are found on more expensive boards and have a more porous surface. These tiny holes help to wax to absorb deeper into the base and prevents to base from trying out as quick.
How to tell if your snowboard needs wax
All the factors above make a difference in how long the wax will last on the board, so it might be easier to look out for these signs to look when it’s time to get out your snowboard wax kit:
- If you notice your straight-line speed is slower than your friends
- If the base of your board looks dry along the edges
- If the snow temperature as dramatically changed and you notice you are going slow
- If you haven’t waxed your board for more than 6 months
The most obvious sign that your board needs a wax is that you are going slow. Even if your goal isn’t to be the fastest rider on the mountain, there are a few other benefits to a smooth sliding board.
Firstly it will help you get across flat spots without having to unclip and push. A fast board will also make the board ride more smoothly and predictably, so turns feel smoother and less sticky when the snow starts to warm up.
If you feel like you are struggling for speed, take a look at the base of your board. You’ll know you need wax if your board is looking dry. This is normally more noticeable along the edge, where the wax gets rubbed off quicker as you turn and put pressure along the edges of the base.
Sintered vs Extrude base – which holds wax better?
Cheaper boards tend to come with extruded bases, whereas more expensive boards tend to come with sintered bases. A sintered base is more porous and so soaks up more wax. This means you’ll need to wax a sintered base a little less often than an extruded base.
Because a sintered base has a little structure inbuilt, it helps reduce suction between the board and the snow. So even a dry extruded base will run a little faster than a dry extruded base.
Wrong type of wax?
If you know you’ve got plenty of wax on your board, but you still are going slow, then it might be that you’ve got the wrong wax on. This is normally a problem when the temperature is really cold, and you’ve got an all-round or warm wax on. In this situation, a dry base will actually slide better than a board waxed with the wrong wax.
If you are riding in the middle of winter and you know the temperature is likely to be around and below, then you’ll need to wax with a cold-weather wax. If you are dropping your board into a store, ask them what temp wax they are going to put on the board? If they can’t match the wax to the temperature, especially for really cold weather, then you are best off buying some wax and doing it yourself. Alternatively, just leave your base dry and then add some all-weather wax when things start to warm up a bit.
Other things to think about…
Is wax bad for the environment?
Wax is not great for the environment. It can be full of hydrocarbons and other chemicals with long names, which we really don’t want to add to the mountain environment. Even if you want to wax your board every week, you can reduce the amount of damage by trying to apply as little wax as possible and correctly disposing of it when you scrape the base.
Don’t scrape your wax off on the hill! The worst thing you can do is scrape your board straight onto the snow when you’re on the hill. This can put as much as 10 times the amount of wax into the environment as disposing of it correctly would. Wax can get everywhere so my tip is to throw a tarp down to catch all the scrapings, then sweep up and throw them in the trash.
Although it is cheaper, in the long run, to buy some wax, a waxing iron and a scraper and do the job yourself, dropping your board in a snowboard/ski store for a wax can mean less wastage. Ask at the store how they are going to wax your board. The best option is if they have an infMost large ski rental stores will have an infrared waxing machine that uses a minimum of wax that is absorbed deep into the base for a longer-lasting job.