For many, waxing and tuning skis surpasses basic maintenance; it is more of a religion. I do not proclaim myself a wax geek as some of our readers are. SkiTalk has dozens of skis in its test fleet, and maintaining them takes a tremendous amount of time and effort; for someone who enjoys a glass of brown liquid when waxing skis, my liver just cannot take that kind of abuse. We have found efficient ways for waxing our skis so we can show them in their best light. We have been using the crayoning and fiberlene method; it is quicker than dripping and scraping, and we haven’t noticed any discernible differences in speed and longevity. Unil now: enter the new world of ecofriendly non-fluoro liquid paraffins.
When we agreed that Toko would come aboard as a sponsor, I was thinking along my traditional lines for what products they would supply. I compiled the usual list: scrapers; 120g blocks of yellow, red, and blue high-performance waxes; and various other tuning supplies. Immediately after my initial order, I received a email asking why I didn’t include any liquid paraffins. In my ignorance, I thought they couldn’t perform to the level of a drip/crayon method. Man, was I wrong.
Ian Hunter, Toko’s national product manager, removed the vast majority of the hard wax blocks from our order switched to the liquid paraffin with a mixture of colors (yellow, red, and blue) and both performance levels, (base and high performance). Over the years, we have tried numerous wax options offered by various startups, latest-and-greatest snake oils, and even new formulas from major brands. I honestly could not tell any differences in A-B testing (different waxes on each ski), so though I was a bit skeptical, I was interested in seeing if these new waxes lived up to Toko’s claims.
Again, I didn’t expect the results I got. When I got to Mt Rose, it was in the mid-20s. I dropped the skis on the old snow and tried not to look down to see which ski was on which foot. I clicked in and started gliding to the lift, and immediately I felt one ski slide better. I looked down to see which ski was which, and sure enough the one treated with the liquid paraffin was gliding faster and smoother than the other. Interesting. As the day warmed up, the old snow got coarser and coarser, conditions that can rip wax off of the base and turn it white, especially near the edges. Both skis skied pretty much the same as the day went on. My final concern was how the liquid paraffin would hold up to a day of coarse snow. Well, after about 4 hr of skiing, both bases looked the same; neither looked drier than the other. The Base Performance Liquid Paraffin held its own. I will chalk this initial test up as a win for the liquid paraffin.
Waxing the night before then buffing the next morning might take longer overall than my old method, but it is a lot less actual time -- and a helluva lot less work and mess. Yes, as @Andy Mink says, you do want to do this in a well-ventilated area, so make sure you have proper ventilation and do not do it in, say, a condo at a Gathering (again).
The 100ml canister of Base Performance Liquid Paraffin retails for about $30 and will do 13 pairs of skis. The 125ml High Performance Liquid Paraffin costs significantly more at $140, but it is directed at the racers' market where cost is not as important as a higher finish. I will be letting @ScotsSkier test and report back on the race spray.