Best Ski and Snowboard Waxes

Updated November 2021
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We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for best ski and snowboard waxes

Skis and snowboards don't just slide across the snow on their own. For the best performance over various kinds of snow, you'll want to apply wax to the underside of your skis or your snowboard.

Wax allows you to glide more freely over the snow, which means you can go faster when skiing or snowboarding downhill. The wax also helps you sail over flat areas. You’ll move farther with the proper ski and snowboard wax, reducing the physical effort needed to propel yourself forward. As an added benefit, wax helps your snowboard or skis last longer. The materials used to make these pieces of winter recreational equipment dry out over time, leading to delamination. Wax keeps the material in prime working condition for as long as possible.

Some people take their skis or snowboards to a repair shop to have them waxed, but this is a simple task that you can do yourself with just a little practice and the right product.

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Always clean the bottom of the skis or snowboard before applying wax. Removing dust, old wax, and other particles allows the new wax to adhere better.

Key considerations

Multiple kinds of waxes are available for your skis or snowboard. It’s important to find just the right wax that matches your planned use, the type of snow, the weather, and the temperature.

Hot wax: A hot wax, applied with a wax iron, is a common type of wax for skis and snowboards, and it delivers the best performance of all the various types of wax. It’s available in many different configurations, allowing you to match the wax to the weather for maximum speed and performance. You also can find all-temperature hot wax that delivers adequate results in any weather.

Rub-on wax: Using rub-on wax allows you to quickly apply the wax and begin skiing or snowboarding again within minutes. It won’t last as long as hot wax, but it will give you a slight performance boost. Some people use rub-on wax to fix minor flaws between applications of hot wax.

Spray-on wax: The easiest type of wax to apply is spray-on wax, but it gives you even less of a performance boost than rub-on wax. Again, it’s probably best used for quick touchups between hot wax applications.

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Expert Tip
Although you can use a clothes iron to apply wax, a waxing iron will do the job far more effectively.
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Features

Waxes for skis and snowboards consist of different materials that are rated for varying conditions. For maximum performance, you should understand these materials.

Hydrocarbon

Many snowboard and ski waxes use hydrocarbon as the primary ingredient. Some waxes include additives to deliver better performance levels. Hydrocarbon-based waxes are not especially environmentally friendly. You can find some plant-based waxes for snowboards or skis, but these don’t always deliver the same level of speed as traditional hydrocarbon-based wax materials.

Graphite

Using a graphite additive in your wax gives your skis or snowboard the ability to glide a bit better than a hydrocarbon wax alone, especially on wetter snow. Graphite also helps to counteract electrostatic buildup on the base of the skis or snowboard that can cause you to slow down.

Molybdenum

The moly additive delivers more speed than graphite because it keeps foreign particles like dirt from sticking to the skis or snowboard. This can be especially problematic in wet snow. Molybdenum has some of the same benefits regarding electrostatic buildup that you get with graphite.

Fluorocarbon

The fluorocarbon additive delivers the best performance of all these additives. In dry snow, it allows you to glide efficiently. In wet snow, it repels moisture and water, allowing you to maintain your speed. It also prevents snowboards or skis from absorbing water, lengthening their lifespan.

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Expert Tip
If you’re seeking an environmentally friendly product, look for a soy-based or plant-based wax rather than a hydrocarbon-based wax with fluorocarbon additives.
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Accessories

Scraper: Swix Wax Scraper
If you’re waxing your own skis, you need a scraper. This one is a trusted option.

Waxing iron: Swix T77 Economy Waxing Iron
For use with snowboards and alpine or Nordic skis, this ergonomic waxing iron delivers a consistent, even temperature.

Waxing kit: Winterial Snowboard and Ski Tuning Kit
Save some money and get everything you need in one convenient kit such as this one.

Ski and snowboard wax prices

Ski and snowboard wax are not especially expensive, but you must apply it regularly if you ski or snowboard frequently, so the cost can add up relatively quickly. You can expect to use roughly 0.5 ounces of wax (about 14 to 15 grams) each time you apply it to a pair of skis or a snowboard. (This is a rough estimate. Some people will use more or less wax each time.) If you choose to have a repair shop apply the wax for you, it can cost $10 to $20 each time, including the cost of the wax.

To properly compare the price of wax, it’s best to calculate the cost of wax per ounce (about 28 to 29 grams) of the product.

Inexpensive: On average, you can expect to pay about $1 to $3 per ounce of wax. Waxes at the lower end of the range often contain primarily hydrocarbon materials, which help for gliding across the snow but may absorb water along the way, breaking down the wax and the materials in the snowboard or skis.

Expensive: Some waxes cost $3 to $10 per ounce. These pricier waxes tend to add fluorocarbons, molybdenum, or graphite to the hydrocarbons. These additives repel water and enable you to ski or snowboard faster. Products that use a higher concentration of fluorocarbons cost more than those with other additives or no additives. Biodegradable waxes are also at the higher end of the price range.

Extras: You also may need a scraper, which costs $5 to $12, and a waxing iron, which costs $25 to $60. You can sometimes purchase all of these items in a single kit, including the wax.

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Expert Tip
Once you become familiar with the waxing process, you can expect to spend up to five minutes waxing each ski or up to six minutes waxing a snowboard.
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Tips

Cross-country (Nordic) skis require a specific type of waxing process and type of wax. Here are some tips for figuring out how to properly use wax on cross-country skis.

  • Determine the proper wax. Cross-country ski waxes are available as either kick wax or glide wax. As the names imply, kick wax is used on the portion of the ski that you use to push against the snow, while glide wax is used on the part of the ski that glides along the snow.
  • Using wax on skate skis. With a skate ski, a type of cross-country ski, you use the edge of the ski to propel yourself against the snow. The entire base of the ski is used to glide, so you only use glide wax on this kind of ski.
  • Using wax on waxable classic skis. A classic cross-country ski is one in which you use the area of the ski under your foot to push against the snow. With the waxable version of a classic ski, you apply kick wax to the part of the ski under your foot, then apply glide wax to the rest of the ski.
  • Using wax on waxless classic skis. With the waxless cross-country ski, the area directly under the foot has a grip material that pushes against the snow. There’s no need to apply kick wax to this area. But you need to apply glide wax to the remainder of the ski.
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You need to use specific wax designed for skis and snowboards. Applying candle wax to your skis or snowboard could damage the equipment.

FAQ

Q. What are the benefits of waxing snowboards and skis?
A.
Waxing the bottom of snowboards and skis helps them glide more freely along the snow, giving you better speed. You may not notice the benefits of the wax when going downhill, but when you’re moving along flat terrain, the wax helps you maintain speed with less effort. Wax also preserves the material used in the construction of skis and snowboards, helping them last longer.


Q. Should I wax my skis or snowboards before I use them for the first time?
A.
The manufacturer of your snowboards or skis should have waxed them before you purchased them. However, this may not be wax of the highest quality, so some people prefer to apply their favorite wax themselves before using the snowboard or skis for the first time.
 

Q. How often should I apply wax?
A.
As a general rule, you should wax your skis or snowboard two or three times per week when you’re using the equipment regularly. Wet, slushy snow wears down the wax more quickly than dry, powdery snow, so you’ll need additional applications. You also should apply wax whenever you notice the skis or snowboard slowing down prematurely when gliding over flat terrain.


Q. How long does the wax have to sit before I can use the ski or snowboard?
A.
If you’re applying a heated wax, you want the wax to be cool to the touch before you use the skis or snowboard, which usually takes about 30 minutes. For other types of wax, you should be able to use the equipment within several minutes.

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