Machine Wax Vs Hand Wax Skis (Compared!)

Machine Wax Vs Hand Wax Skis

Waxing the bases of your skis is super important to minimize the friction between the ski and the snow and allow for the smoothest glide and protect the ski from getting damaged by any gritty materials in the snow.

It is best to wax your skis properly at the beginning of the season before the first run, at the end of the season before the skis are put in storage, and in between too, depending on the impacts the skis have undergone during runs.

There are different types of ski waxes and these waxes vary in their ingredients, particular ski conditions they are suitable for, and how they are applied on a ski base.

In this article I’ll compare two ways of waxing skis, machine wax vs hand wax skis, so that you can make an informed decision as to which route to take when it is time to wax your skis.

Waxing Skis By Hand

Waxing Skis By Hand

There are two ways skis are waxed by hand. One is rub-off or cold waxing, and the other is hot waxing. However waxing skis by hand generally refers to hot waxing. 

The process of hot waxing is started by cleaning the base of the ski to remove any dirt or other foreign objects adhering to it. Sometimes a thorough base grind will be needed for proper cleaning. 

The next step is heating the wax using an iron and letting it drip all over to the base of the ski. Then the wax is applied evenly by running the iron over the base as in ironing clothes. 

The wax must then be allowed to cool down to room temperature. Once the wax is cooled down, it has to be scrapped with a squeegee so that a very thin and even layer of wax remains.

And as a final touch, the wax layer is brushed to remove any excess wax remaining, making it smoother. You can read the whole process and why new skis need to be waxed here.

Advantages Of Hand Waxing 

  • Hot waxing allows the wax to get into the pores of the ski base and settle. That makes the wax layer a bit more durable. 
  • It also makes it harder for gritty material in the snow to get embedded in the pores of the ski base, allowing better protection against scratches and similar damages. 
  • It is simple enough for any skier to learn to do it by themselves and doesn’t need sophisticated equipment.
Advantages Of Hand Waxing 

Disadvantages Of Hand Waxing 

  • Hand waxing is more time-consuming than machine waxing. 
  • One could also damage a ski base while hot waxing by leaving the iron on the base for too long.
  • If you get a professional to do it for you, it costs more than machine waxing. 

Machine Waxing

Machine waxing is comparable to a more intensive “rub on” wax.

There is a supple belt that loops around. Your ski is run across the belt while being rolled up against a roller after the belt has been waxed. Wax is applied to the surface of the base of the ski  by the friction of the belt.

Advantages Of Machine Waxing 

  • It takes less time to wax your skis on a machine than to do it by hand.
  • It is also cheaper than having a professional hot waxing your skis. 
  • There is no risk of accidentally burning your ski base. 

Disadvantages Of Machine Waxing

  • Machine waxing only creates a superficial layer of wax on a ski base. It is going to wear off fairly quickly.
  • You can not do it by yourself due to the kind of machinery involved. 

Bottom Line

Machine Waxing

When it comes to waxing your skis, you can either opt to get it done on a machine or do it by hand.

Machine waxing will be quicker, but less durable and you would not be able to do it by yourself. Hand waxing takes more time, but creates a longer-lasting wax layer, and is simple for you to do on your own. 

Carefully consider the pros and cons of both methods to choose what is right for you. Remember, you must wax your skis either way. Read how often you should do it here.


How Long Does Machine Wax Last On Skis?

Machine wax only lasts for about 1 -3 skiing days. It doesn’t last long because the wax is not melted or hot enough to fully penetrate the base of the ski. Plus, the application process is not thorough.

How Long Does Hot Wax Last On Skis?

Hot wax will last about 3 to 5 skiing days. Hot waxing moisturizes the base of the ski instead of being a simple layer of wax on the base. It basically permeates the ski’s base and impregnates it, hence it lasts longer than machine wax.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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