About Waxing Your Board
Posted by KyleWeevers
Prepare for a long ass post people, I'll give you all the knowledge I have gotten over the past 7 years that I've been a tech in regards to wax:
I will start by saying no matter what base type you have a wax job will always be beneficial, having a smooth clean surface to glide on will help you keep speed on the flats, and will also help in maneuvering through pow. Extruded bases do not have to be waxed quite as often as sintered bases and this is because extruded bases are more porous. The bad thing about that is they can get deeper scratches and gouges than a sintered base.
Sintered bases should be waxed often. How often would be determined by the snow you ride. If its man made gun blown snow, wax it every time. Man made snow crystals are very sharp, and larger than snow from the heavens, and because of this it will rip the wax right off your base by the end of the day. If its light fluffy powder you can go as long as 4 - 5 riding days without a new wax coat.
Types and Temperature of waxes:
There are many different types of waxes out there, but the most common is flouro based waxes. They are fairly long lasting, and can take a rough rider. The other type as Snowolf mentioned is graphite. Graphite comes in one colour; black. It will be noticeable on a white base and people will think you need a wax job. .That is until you flash by 'em laughing your ass off. Graphite wax is harder and creates better glide with the snow than flouro wax does. Thus it is a faster wax. It doesn't have the same staying power, but it will make you ride faster.
The whole purpose of wax:
The whole purpose of wax is not to reduce friction, but to increase. It is a huge misconception that wax will help decrease friction. To fully explain this we must examine a few other things that are related to the base of our beloved snowboards.
Base pattern: Have you ever looked at a dried out base and noticed that there is a sort of pattern to it? It looks like a bunch of dotted lines staggered one after another running lengthwise down the board. This pattern is the start of what creates the all important glide of a snowboard, by making these patterns you are creating channels for which water runs down and moves your snowboard. Many shops offer a stone grind as part of their full tune packages and what the stone does is embeds the pattern into your base.
Now when you wax your board you fill in the grooves of the base patten to create a level surface and scrape away all the excess. This helps the flow of water that is created from the friction of gliding your board on the snow. The base pattern then directs the water down the channels and gets you rockin' faster.
This is why when you get scratches and gouges that run widthwise on your board they will slow you down more than a scratch or gouge that runs lengthwise. Also when you get scratches and deeper gouges you allow water to pool inside them and create more drag for yourself as you ride.
So in the end we use wax to increase the friction between the board and the snow to the point where water is created, and then the snowboard glides on the water, the quicker you go from snow to water, the quicker you get down the mountain. And we use the water channels created through base patterns and waxing to help direct the water through the running length of the board so that it escapes quickly.
Temperatures of wax:
Its as easy as match the colour to the temp. But for a longer explanation I'll explain the differences between warm and cold waxes. Cold waxes are much harder and as such need more heat and friction to soften them. Generally when it is colder outside snow crystals are more jagged and hard which means more friction on the board which means a colder wax will last longer. Inversely a warm wax is soft and does not need much heat to warm up and create the required glide. If you were to use warm wax on a cold day it would be pointless because the jagged ice crystals would burn off the wax in short order, and if you were to use a cold wax on a warm day, you would have to ride for 1/2 the day and not stop after that to finally get the wax to where you get a glide out of it.
That being said, whether its a cold or warm day I generally will put cold wax around the edges of my board because they will heat up faster than any other part of the board, the edges see more friction than any other part of the board so I use a cold wax for a good over all coat to make sure I get the entire use of my board rather than just the middle of it.