Is Rub-On Ski/Snowboard Wax Any Good?

Updated October 5, 2023


There are basically 2 types of wax which you can include in your snowboard wax kit – Hot wax and rub-on wax.

Hot wax feels and acts a lot more like normal candle wax; you heat it up and it melts onto the base, then your iron over the base and the wax soaks in. 

Rub-on wax is more like an oil than a wax. To apply it you just rub it on and let it dry, before giving it a quick polish.

Does rub-on slide as fast as hot wax?

Generally speaking hot wax is still faster than rub on wax. All competition skiers and snowboarders will use hot wax, so I guess that is the end of the discussion! 

However, because hot waxing is more effort than rub-on, a lot of people (like me!) don’t wax their skis/snowboard often enough and end up riding a slow-running snowboard! Rub-on wax can be applied in 5mins as long as your base is dry and not too cold.

How long does rub-on wax last?

Hot wax will always last longer than rub on wax. When you apply hot wax with an iron the pores of the base expand and the wax soaks deeper into the base. Most skis/snowboards above entry level have sintered bases which have more pores and hold their wax longer. for a solid week of riding. 

Rub-on wax pretty much just stays on the surface of the board and will probably only last you a day or two. However because it’s easier to apply you can easily top up and without having to get out your iron and making a mess!

There is also kind of an advantage of the wax lasting not so long. Because you should match the type of wax to the snow temperature it is actually way more convenient to swap from cold weather rub-on wax to warm weather than it is with hot wax, which requires cleaning out the whole base.

Best Rub on waxes

How to apply rub on wax

  1. Make sure your base is clean and dry
  2. Scrape off any signs of old hot wax, or use a base cleaner to remove any residue
  3. Rub the wax right on there!
  4. Leave to dry for 5-10mins
  5. Give it a quick polish so that its nice and smooth  

Is rub-on wax better for the environment?

This kind of depends on what hot-wax you are using and how you are scraping it off. Back in the day all hot waxes were made of petroleum, which as it was rubbed off by the snow was left in the snow-pack until it melted back into the water system. Although there are some environmentally friendly, petroleum-free waxes out there, a lot of the cheaper ones are still super bad news! 

Whatever hot wax you are using you should always scrape off a maximum amount of wax after applying, and dispose of it correctly – don’t scrape on the hill!

There are a lot more eco friendly rub-on waxes out there. And because you apply less of it to your base than a hot wax, less of it gets rubbed off into the snow.

Advantages of Hot Wax

  • Slides faster
  • Lasts longer

Advantages of Rub-on Wax

  • Quick and easy to apply
  • No extra tools needed
  • No mess
  • Quicker to do
  • Better for the environment

Wrapping up

So which one is better? Well after years of using hot wax, I’m actually a Rub-on convert!  Although rub on wax may not slide as quick, its definitely quicker to apply. And it turns out I’m too lazy to hot wax my board ofter enough.

Also hot waxing is a super messy job and all the little wax scrapings get everywhere! So unless you have a really good space to hot wax I would definitely recommend rub-on. 

Finally the new eco-friendly rub-on waxes are better for the environment. It’s pretty rare that taking the easy, lazy route works out better for the environment, so why make your life harder?!

Even if you use hot wax I would still recommend adding a rub-on wax to your snowboard wax kit for those days when your in a rush and your board needs a little extra boost!

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Written by Graeme Gibson

I've spent the last 25 year riding my snowboard all over the world. I now live in Switzerland with my family where I coach snowboarding and still get a few powder days whenever I can. Lean more about me here ->

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