Dec 18 2013

Tech Tip: Hot scrape to clean ski bases


This pair of skis hadn't seen wax in over a year. They were whitish with oxidation and yielded up this harvest of grime.

This pair of skis hadn’t seen wax in over a year. They were whitish with oxidation and yielded up this harvest of grime.

Aside from avoiding skiing in thin, early-season snow one of the best ways to care for your skis is by waxing them. Most skiers wax their skis so they glide faster. While many backcountry skiers don’t bother waxing, rationalizing that they’re not concerned with winning any downhill medals, there are additional reasons to wax their skis. Besides glide, a waxed base makes removing climbing skins much easier, especially in the case of today’s skis with bloated waistlines and excess surface area.

Yet another reason to wax skis is to recondition your bases by using the wax to clean out all the gunk that has inevitably penetrated into them when they were dry and you took them touring anyway, especially in the spring with all the pine pollen, grime, dust, and sticky skin glue.

Step one in the process of cleaning your bases might involve using a solvent cleaner, like a citrus based cleaner. If there is skin glue residue or sap sticking to your bases this is a good first step to get the surface clean. According to the race tuners at the Start Haus, if you rely on solvent cleaners for a deep clean you can dry out a skis’ bases. Their recommendation for cleaning up ski bases is to hot scrape them.

Hot scraping is simply scraping your bases immediately after ironing wax into them. Don’t wait for it to cool down. As soon as it transitions from being a hot, glossy looking liquid to a soft, still-warm solid phase with a matte finish, scrape it. By scraping the wax when it’s hot you can peel off impurities that are pulled to the surface before they seep back down. The results are more obvious than you might expect, with obvious discoloration where dirt has been suspended in the surface wax. If you have never done this before you may find you could do it a few times before the wax scrapes off clean.

Once you have cleaner bases, you should find wax adheres better and lasts longer because the pores of the p-tex are available for wax, not clogged with dirt.

© 2013

  • Herb Manning

    “Base cleaners” are base killers!
    Hot scraping is a far more effective method for cleaning your bases than any liquid base cleaner. And it won’t over-dry or leave any residue either.
    So don’t scrape your finish wax until it’s cool to the touch!