There are two primary purposes of applying wax to cross-country skis. Waxing can either help give the ski a stronger grip or it can facilitate a smoother gliding motion across the snow. There are, therefore, essentially two different types of ski wax: base waxes and running waxes. Within these two larger groups are subgroups whose use is dependent upon specific conditions of the snow over which you will be skiing.
Base waxes are applied to the base of the ski so that the running wax that is used later will properly adhere. Base wax is most bought in a tin and then actually applied by heating it with an iron. Base wax may also be sprayed on with an aerosol can. If you are using a wooden ski you will need to apply a later of tar before applying base wax in order to make sure it is properly sealed against water.
Running waxes are those that facilitate gripping or gliding. Running wax can be hard or soft, but regardless of which you use they must be applied to the center of the ski only. The part of the ski that running wax is applied to is the part where the skip needs to literally grip to the snow when you press down upon it. Hard running waxes typically are bought in can and you must rub the wax onto the base of the ski before smoothing it out so that it becomes a thin film. This rubbing is best accomplished with a piece of cork. Soft running waxes are known as klisters and they are much stickier, provide a tighter grip and can be found in tubes. If you have trouble applying klister wax you should try warming it up first.
Glide waxes are utilized expressly to provide a smoother ride over the snow. This type of ski wax should only be applied to the tips and tails of the skis in order to achieve this result. There are general purpose glide waxes, but experienced skiers usually follow the color coding system to achieve the best results. The code is very specific, but basically red is used for snow that is melting or slushy. Violet colored coded wax is used for mushy snow or snow that is filled with crumbling clumps of older snowfall. The glide wax that falls under the blue code is used for moderately cold dry snow or snow with a hard crust. The green coded glide wax is used for cold dry snow and new powdery flakes.
Article Written By Timothy Sexton
Timothy Sexton is an award-winning author who started writing in 1994. He has written on topics ranging from politics and golf to nutrition and travel, and his work appears online for Zappos.com, Disaboom and MOJO, among others. He has also done work for "Sherlock Holmes and Philosophy." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of West Florida.