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Base Waxing and Base Loading

Quick Guide

Base Loading is the term used to describe a waxing technique that infuses wax deep into the base of the ski. It is often used by World Cup skiers to improve the performance of the ski. This process makes the ski faster and holds the top wax for longer in the ski. To base load, use a hydrocarbon wax and iron it into the ski.

Step 1 - Prepare the ski base thoroughly before hand using a brass brush or structure pad to clean the base. This opens up the 'pores' in the base structure and allows any dirt or impediments to be removed. Repeat tip to tail three times and then use a soft paint brush to wipe away any dust. Then finish off the cleaning process using a base cleaner. The base is now ready to accept the wax.

Step 2 - Using a hot iron, melt DataWax Butane Hydrocarbon onto the base of the ski in three thin lines along the length of the ski. This will ensure that when you begin to iron in the wax, the iron itself will not make contact with the base of the ski.

Step 3 - Once the wax has been ironed in, allow the ski to rest - preferably base up in a warm room. The wax will absorb into the base, resulting in the pores of the base being 'loaded' with wax. Lightly scrape and repeat at least three more times.

Step 4 - Finally the ski can be scraped and prepared for use on the slopes. You should then apply your top wax, whether for training or racing. Your skis will feel fast and smooth.

 

In Depth - Teach Me More!

Using a brass brush cleans the base & opens up the structure. The ‘structure’ is name given to the feint longitudinal grooves in the base of the ski that allow the moisture/water in the snow to squeeze out much in the same way as a car's tire grooves work on the road. Without structure the base would just stick to the snow by suction. Three passes of firm pressure overlapping stokes, again walking down the base is all that’s required. Dry scrape the base a couple of times to remove debris & use a large soft paint brush to wipe away the dust etc, followed by a wipe with a piece of fiberleen cloth. If you ever want to add additional structure to the ski base without having a stone grind then a specific base structure tool can be used although I prefer to just give the bases a real good tip to tail brushing with a very stiff stainless steel ‘base structure’ brush. Now release the centre vice as this restricts the ski from ‘expanding’ in to reverse camber when heater by the iron which restricts the p-tex base from opening fully & restricts wax absorption.

Perform a ‘hot scrape’ using a soft wax to clean the base of the ski. A ‘hot scrape’ is when the molten wax is immediately scraped off after being ironed in to the ski to pull out the dirt held within the base. You’ll notice the black dirt smears in the scraped wax. If the base is very dirty then this can be repeated until the wax scrapes clean. Don’t use a wax remover or other chemicals to clean the base as it dries it out. The only time to use a wax remover on the base would be to clean a damaged area prior to a repair. However, wax remover is great for cleaning scrapers & the bench top etc.
 
Use a brass brush to clean the base & open up the structure. Three passes of firm pressure overlapping stokes, again walking down the base is all that’s required. Use a large soft paint brush to wipe away the dust etc, followed by a wipe with a piece of clean dry cloth.


Hot wax again with your chosen wax for the conditions & but now leave to fully cool* to enable the wax to be fully absorbed in to the base. Approx 12/15g of wax is required to properly wax the average pair of skis. Touching the wax block on the hot iron (known as hot touching) & then crayoning the wax on to the base before dripping it on saves waxes & can help prevent the base from burning if the iron is accidentally too hot. Hot touching wax for very low temperature snow is highly recommended as it’s so hard that you need a high iron setting to melt the wax in to the base. To gain the ultimate in wax absorbency the skis can be put in a ‘hot box’ for a few hours. See my 'Services' section for more information about hot boxing. *Note: It's really important point to allow the wax to cool properly before scraping. When we're hot waxing the ski, heat transferred from the iron to the ski's base expands its pores allowing it to be impregnated by molten wax. Equally important as waxing the ski properly is the ‘cooling down’ phase. Having that very porous ski base that you’ve just expanded with the heat of your wax iron fully cool down slowly at room temperature (about 22C/70F) provides the perfect environment for proper wax impregnation. What you’re trying to achieve is a very slow, deliberate closing or contracting of the ski’s base to retain all the wax. Don’t be tempted to stick your skis outside into temperatures that are way lower than your ideal working environment directly after waxing. Dramatic temperature changes like this cause the pores to close too fast which will push wax out rather than allowing it to cool slowly and adhere inside the skis base material. Your wax manufacturer should supply information as too how long to leave the skis to cool before scraping. For example, Dominator Wax recommend a period of at least 90 minutes for their Zoom universal wax before scraping.

Now the ski is cool clamp it in the centre vice for security & safety. Scrape with a sharp plexiglass scraper. Keep your plexi scraper sharp & use the notched, angled & rounded corners to scrape the wax off the edges & the sidewall. I prefer a 6mm scraper to the thinner ones that are available as they stay straight rather that bending in the middle which can then lead to you scraping the bases concave. This step for new skis only. New skis arrive at the store with plenty of graphite dust in the pores and coarse  microscopic hairs are left on the base from the original grind. The factory wax is also for protection rather than performance. If the factory structure pattern is too shallow (it saves the factory having to do a lot of expensive post grind base smoothing) it can be enhanced with a few passes of a steel structure brush & then fibertex pads in varying grades to remove the fuzz from the 'peaks'’, knocking them down somewhat & smoothing out the structure. Warm, low melting point waxes perform an excellent clean & have great penetration in a new base. Even better are the specific waxes just for this purpose like Dominator Zoom Renew. So on new skis repeat the wax/cool/scrape & brush steps as many times as possible as the base needs 'loading up' with wax to give protection & speed. To gain the ultimate in wax absorbency the skis can be put in a ‘hot box’ for a few hours. See my 'Services' section for more information about hot boxing. Between each wax cycle give the skis loads of brass brushing & fiberpad passes (say 10 passes of each) after each wax. For one or two of the waxes use a very cold temperature wax as it cools faster so it traps the hairs that have floated up in the melt. It is very cohesive when cool so the hairs get trapped & snapped off by the sharp of the scraper. A thick, rigid & sharp scraper is vital for this step. Occasional future applications of cold waxes also help eliminate coarseness from a base. Top World Cup tuners may do 50 waxes & scrape cycles on their race skis before they hit the snow so don’t think you’re being anal by doing it at least a few times! Brass brush again for initial polishing & to clear the wax out of the structure. Again, three firm passes. Horsehair brush for secondary polishing & final structure cleaning. Three passes. Nylon brush for final polishing. Three passes. Wipe down the base with a clean dry cloth.

Saturation

The racing ski bases are generally made of ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE)loaded with graphite.

The bases in UHMWPE are realized through sintering. It is a process that consists in melting under pressure high molecular weight polyethylene powder mixed with additives in a cylindrical mould. Once cooled down, the cylindrical shape obtained is cut to the desired  thickness by means of a peeling device, thus generating the sintered base.

During the polyethylene cooling process, some empty micro-spaces will originate at the points of contact among crystalline microspherulites. The base saturation is possible by spreading the liquid paraffi n in these empty micro-spaces.

The heat is crucial, because it keeps the paraffi n liquid and generates micro-movements of polyethylene, that facilitate the fi nal saturation of empty micro-spaces. Thanks to electronic iron MAPLUS ELECTRONIC IRON WAX, saturation occurs normally with about 30 waxing treatments, waiting from time to time that the base cools down, in order to prevent the ski internal structure from heating excessively.

For high-level, saturation is carried out in 2 or 3 times through the thermo bag, MAPLUS THERMO WAXING BAG, that allows distributing the temperature evenly, and consequently the paraffi n across the base. Just leave the ski covered with a thick layer of paraffi n in the bag at a temperature of 55 ° / 60 ° C, for a period that can range from 24 to 36 hours  ccording to the type of ski construction. The temperature should not be higher than the one indicated, as excessive heat can damage the internal structure of the skis. MAPLUS SOFT RACING BASIC shall be used because, during the saturation process, it remains liquid at the temperature indicated. The process is repeated 2 or 3 times until the ski is taken off from the bag at the end of treatment, still covered by the layer of paraffin. At this point, saturation is complete. It is important to wait for the ski to cool down inside the thermo bag closed, to prevent damage to the structure of polyethylene and skis. Instead of the thermo bag, the thermo cover MAPLUS THERMO COVER can be used in the same way, but in shorter time. The ski bases are compressed against the thermo cover and saturation is completed in 6 / 9 hours. The temperature of the thermo cover can not be adjusted and it constantly fluctuates between 55 ° / 60 ° C. The use of the thermo bag or the thermo cover compared to electronic iron makes skis immediately more sliding and resistant to abrasion and dirt. The saturation process must be repeated every time the skis are grinded by a stone grinding
machine. 

Protection

After the base saturation, proceed to the base waxing maintaining and protection during transport. It is the waxing that is carried out each time between a race and the next, or between a training and the next; it differs from waxing saturation because it is done with high melting paraffi ns and therefore harder, such as MAPLUS MED BASE or MAPLUS HARD BASE. The characteristic of these paraffins is their very wide application, in other words, they are high quality products that offer good sliding in all conditions and high abrasion resistance.

Over this resistant and performing paraffin protection sub-layer, it is possible to carry out the racewaxing, making sure that the base surface (surface empty micro-spaces) is perfectly brushed and polished, and ready to be saturated by race wax.