How to Wax Skis: An Intro

Wondering about the difference between classic and skate skis?

Did you know there are two different types of ski wax (kick and glide)?

Unsure where to get all the gear you need for waxing?

Find the answers here.

Classic or Skate?

In this video, learn about the physical differences between skate and classic skis that allow you to excel at each technique. Learn about the two different types of wax, and where to apply each.

What’s all this Stuff?

In this video, learn about the equipment you need for waxing, including the table, tools, and waxes themselves.

How to Wax a Ski

In this video, learn how to glide and kick wax a classic ski, and how to glide wax a skate ski.

Where do I get all this stuff?

Tools (like an iron, scraper, corks, etc.)

Kick Wax (Hardwax)

Non Fluoro Glide Wax

Wax Remover (as mentioned in How to Wax a Ski)


Why do I need to take the wax off the ski before skiing on it? This is a common source of confusion. When we iron wax onto a ski, we’re actually ironing it into the ski. The wax temporarily changes the base slightly, making the ski better suited to different snow. Scraping the superficial layer off does not affect this, but leaving the superficial layer on would significantly increase drag on the snow; the skis would be very slow, sticking to the snow. When being stored for longer than a few days, skis should have a layer of wax on them to keep bases from drying out. This layer should be removed before skiing. (See: How to Wax a Ski.)

Does the direction I wax in matter? Yep. (See: How to Wax a Ski.) Scraping and brushing should always move in the tip to tail direction. Ironing could, in theory, be done in either direction, but it’s good to be in the habit of keeping everything flowing tip to tail. Irons should not be run back and forth over the ski. Kick wax can be crayoned onto the ski in any direction as well as back and forth, but should be removed with a putty knife in the tip to tail direction. Wax benches can be adjusted so the ski can face either direction, to match your dominant hand.

How often do I need to glide wax? Race skis or good training skis should be glide waxed after every 2-3 skis, or once a week, to keep from drying out. For training days, throw on your mid range glide wax and don’t sweat it if temps aren’t exactly in the range on your next training day. For race days, if you need a different temp wax, scrape and brush the wax that’s on the ski, apply the other wax, let it cool, scrape and brush it, and you’re good to go.

How often do I need to kick wax? Every time you go out. Kick wax is much more temperature sensitive, so if conditions have changed at all since the last time you classic skied you should scrape off the old kick wax with your putty knife and apply new wax. If conditions are exactly the same, leave your previous kick wax on and touch it up with a new light layer of the same wax to fill in where any may have rubbed off.

What waxes should I buy? Pick a brand, and get 2-3 glide waxes (cold & medium, possibly a warm wax.) Get a kick wax for every temperature range: green for cold, a couple blues for mid range, a red and a violet for warm snow. Also get yourself a binder (see: How to Wax a Ski.)

Can I use waxless skis instead? Yes. Touring (or backcountry) skis are similar to classic skis (they aren’t used for skate skiing), but instead of using kick wax, they have ridges in the kick zone, called fish scales, which provide resistance just as kick wax does. Touring/BC skis are typically wider than race skis, may have metal edges, and do not glide nearly as fast as race skis. Fish scale skis can still be glide waxed. There are also race skis available with “skins,” which is a fabric-like material permanently stuck to the ski in the kick zone. New models kick reasonably well in many conditions.

I’m new to skiing. Should I start with skate or classic? If you are totally totally brand new to all skiing, start with classic, on a pair of waxless touring skis. These are wider and more stable, and can be used off groomed trails as well as in a groomed track. If you are already an alpine skier or have a history of dabbling with skiing and are just now getting “serious,” you may want to try skate skiing. Touring skis will likely feel too slow and potentially boring if you are already comfy with sliding on snow, but classic skiing on waxable skis requires a fine-tuned technique that’s difficult to pinpoint without instruction. Skating, on the other hand, will be an exciting aerobic challenge.

Got a question? Ask me

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