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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.

FAQs

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

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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SkiFanatic93
SkiFanatic93
1 year ago

I’ve always been a believer in hand waxing my skis. There’s something about doing it yourself that makes the whole skiing experience more personal. Plus, you can really feel the difference when you’re out there on the slopes.

TechyTom
TechyTom
1 year ago

Machine waxing is a game changer for those of us who’d rather spend more time on the slopes than prepping our gear. It’s efficient and the consistent quality means more time enjoying the snow.

Maggie Q
Maggie Q
1 year ago

As someone who only hits the slopes a few times a year, I’m wondering if machine waxing is worth the investment? Or should I stick to hand waxing at home?

old_school
old_school
1 year ago

Never trusted those machine wax jobs. Hand waxing is the only way to truly tune your skis to your liking.

NewAgeRider
NewAgeRider
Reply to  old_school
1 month ago

Is hand waxing difficult to learn for someone new to skiing?

Jenny_the_Jibber
Jenny_the_Jibber
1 year ago

Hand waxing lets me tweak the wax depending on the park conditions. It’s all about that perfect slide and grind, you know?

Cliff H.
Cliff H.
1 year ago

In backcountry skiing, every bit of advantage counts. Hand waxing my skis gives me the control I need over my gear’s performance in varied and challenging terrains.

slopes_are_calling
slopes_are_calling
11 months ago

Machine waxing has saved me so much time. I’d rather have more runs down the mountain than spend that time waxing my skis by hand.

R.Peters
R.Peters
10 months ago

Considering the pros and cons, hand waxing seems to offer greater precision and customization. Though it takes time, for those who value the utmost performance, it’s the only way to go.

MtnLovr
MtnLovr
9 months ago

Hand waxing for me is almost a meditative process, part of my preparation ritual before going into the mountains. It’s not just about wax, but connecting with my gear.

Benny
Benny
9 months ago

If you’re new to ski maintenance, starting with hand waxing is a great way to understand your skis better. It’s simple once you get the hang of it.

CuriousGeorge
CuriousGeorge
Reply to  Benny
5 months ago

Any tips on making hand waxing less messy for a first-timer?

Benny
Benny
Reply to  Benny
1 month ago

Use a steady iron and keep a clean workspace. It’s all about patience and practice.

Theodore S.
Theodore S.
8 months ago

Reflecting on my racing days, precision in waxing was everything. Now, as a casual skier, machine wax offers the convenience that I prefer without much compromise on performance.

UpNorthNick
UpNorthNick
7 months ago

Hand waxing has been a winter ritual for me. It’s how I learned from my folks and it’s a skill I’m passing down to my kids. There’s pride in doing it yourself.

SierraSquared
SierraSquared
7 months ago

Does anyone know if there’s an eco-friendly wax that works well for hand waxing? I want to minimize my environmental impact while still enjoying the slopes.

marcusj77
marcusj77
6 months ago

When you’re waxing skis for the whole family, hand waxing is the way to go. Saves a ton compared to machine waxing at a shop.

GearGuru88
GearGuru88
5 months ago

For those debating between hand or machine wax, consider your skiing frequency and conditions. Machine wax might be more convenient, but hand waxing offers customization that machines can’t match.

Lizzy_Loops
Lizzy_Loops
5 months ago

Hand waxing gives you that personal touch and control over your ski’s performance, essential for competitive skiing where every little detail counts.

snowplow_master
snowplow_master
4 months ago

Tried machine wax last season and it was alright, but hand waxing with a beer in hand is just part of the winter vibe for me.

Lisa H-M Fan
Lisa H-M Fan
3 months ago

Thanks for this detailed comparison, Lisa! I’ve been on the fence about which waxing method is better for me, and this really helps.

Jake_at_Dawn
Jake_at_Dawn
3 months ago

Nothing beats the freshness of hand-waxed skis on an early morning run. It’s all part of the ritual.

SlickRick
SlickRick
2 months ago

Anyone looking into hand waxing, start with a good iron and don’t rush the melt. It’s more art than science.

HankTheTank
HankTheTank
1 month ago

Used to machine wax for convenience, but hand waxing? That precision and discipline, it’s like boot camp for your skis. Wouldn’t go back now.

FrostyBeard
FrostyBeard
1 month ago

Hand waxing adds that personal touch to your prep. It’s not just about the wax; it’s about knowing your gear inside and out.

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