Fast XC ski and sledge waxing

In the Good Old Days when we had the time, and skis were smooth and waxable rather than patterned and waxless, we read up John Caldwell, who told how to iron on melted candle wax to a clean ski base before applying the other wax coats required for grip and slip. The patterned skis had to make do with a short-lived spray of silicone. If you ironed on wax to a patterned ski base, not only did you fill up the pattern and lose grip, but the ironing process was much harder anyway.

I made up the following system for my own use. It lays down a hard film of wax, which like the ironed film, runs for several six hour ski days if you stay off granular snow. Application to a pair of patterned base skis (bases, sides and tops), or the running surface of the Sliding Barrel takes a few minutes. Apologies for the lack of precise units in the recipe, but I have never bothered to formulate with any accuracy.

You need some non-automotive petrol (gasoline) of the type sold for petrol-based camping stoves and household solvent applications. This is called Shellite in Australia, but I don't think anywhere else. This is not methylated spirits (industrial alcohol), which is called blue something in Canada, but I cannot for the life of me remember.

Pour two or three cups of Shellite into a large wide-mouth glass jar. Use a metal one if the unlikely prospect of the glass cracking alarms you. This stuff has been known to catch fire, but not while I have been making up my brew. Take half a domestic candle and shave it with a penknife, breadknife or similar into the Shellite. You can simply chuck the candle in if a long dissolve time does not worry you. Boil up somewhere far away a large saucepan of water, turn off the stove and carry the saucepan to the table that holds the Shellite jar. Immerse the jar so the external water and the internal Shellite are about the same level. Leave the cap off the jar! Stir the Shellite and wax mix gently.

As the Shellite warms (if it boils take it out of the water) the wax will also melt and the mix will turn to a clear solution. Take it out of the saucepan and you are done, only putting the cap back on the jar when the whole thing has cooled. As the mix cools it turns cloudy as the wax starts to come out of solution. In storage the mix alters from a clear solution during heatwaves to a wax-like solid when the cold sets in. To use run a basin of hot water from the hot tap and stand the jar in it for ten minutes until the solution is once more clear. Just brush on to the skis or the sledge drum. It will turn pasty almost immediately, and set to a hard wax film within half an hour. One full jar of this mix lasts me two years.

You can carry a small amount of this goo with you camping out in the snow and rub it over the skis using a paper towel or similar. The wax film quality is not as good, but much better than nothing. Muck is cleared off the ski base at the same time, and you can fire the paper towel to warm up afterwards.