Hydrocarbon, Lo Fluoro or Hi Fluoro — Help me Mr. Wizard!
Before we get into the actual waxing of skis, we should touch on the different types of waxes available these days.
It used to be easy — there was only one kind of wax. Now there are lo fluoro and hi fluoro waxes as well as all kinds of additives. The added fluorination helps repel water and has less friction, letting you glide farther. But these waxes come at a price. A 60 gram tub of plain old hydrocarbon glide wax runs about $10. A 60 gram tub of lo fluoro wax about $25 and 40 grams of hi fluoro will hurt you to the tune of $70. If you think that’s expensive, a 30 gram jar of Swix Cera F fluoro powder is over $100! I feel a sudden need to have a sponsor.
And of course there are all the different wax manufacturers — Toko, Swix, Star, Dominator, Rode, Rex, Start, Briko, etc. My two cents is to pick one and always use their waxes. Jumping ship gets confusing.
But if you are really into waxes, there is a great book from the Ski Research Group where they actually do on-snow tests of all the waxes in different temperatures, humidities and all flavors of snow. This book has it all. You can get it from Tognar or Eagle River Nordic. There is even a scaled down, on-line version at Eagle River’s website.
By the way, never, NEVER, use hi-fluoro waxes with ANY kind of open flame or heat source, they are extremely dangerous. Fluoro waxes are fairly safe, inert and nonflammable, but the heat of a flame is high enough that the smoke that is released is highly toxic. A coach who smoked got fluoro wax on this fingers, then accidentally transferred the wax to a cigarette, inhaled the fumes and had to be rushed to a hospital. Waxing irons do not get hot enough to cause any problems with hi-fluoro waxes, but if you use hi-fluoro waxes, it would be smart to invest in a respirator mask.