Ski wax

Ski wax is a material applied to the bottom of snow runners, including skis, snowboards, and toboggans, to improve their coefficient of friction performance under varying snow conditions. The two main types of wax used on skis are glide waxes and grip waxes. They address kinetic friction—to be minimized with a glide wax—and static friction—to be achieved with a grip wax. Both types of wax are designed to be matched with the varying properties of snow, including crystal type and size, and moisture content of the snow surface, which vary with temperature and the temperature history of the snow. Glide wax is selected to minimize sliding friction for both alpine and cross-country skiing. Grip wax (also called "kick wax") provides on-snow traction for cross-country skiers, as they stride forward using classic technique.

Ski wax
Vintage ski waxes, once used by U.S. Army ski troops. Left to right are: grip waxes in canisters (blue for "dry snow" and yellow for "wet and corn snow") and a paraffin glide wax.
Industrial sector(s)Winter sports equipment and supplies
Main technologies or sub-processesTribology
FeedstockParaffin wax, resins, fluorocarbons
Product(s)Glide wax, grip wax
Leading companiesBrav Group (Swix, Toko), Briko-Maplus, Dakine, Dominator, Hertel Wax, Holmenkol, Oneball, Purl, Rex, Rode, Skigo, Startex, Visti

Modern plastic materials (e.g. high-modulus polyethylene and Teflon), used on ski bases, have excellent gliding properties on snow, which in many circumstances diminish the added value of a glide wax. Likewise, uni-directional textures (e.g. fish scale or micro-scale hairs) underfoot on cross-country skis can offer a practical substitute for grip wax for those skiers, using the classic technique.