Is It Normal For Skis to Rust (And How to Maintain Them)
Skis with no rust on them

There have been cases when people order new skis, straight from the shop, and find a small amount of rust present on the edges. Sometimes it is because of faulty delivery (especially if they are wrapped in plastic). Temperature and storage changes during the delivery journey from the manufacturer to your doorstep. During that time humidity builds up droplets within the plastic and causes mild corrosion.

Skis are prone to rust – fact. Some of them rust more often than others, but the potential damage depends only on how fast you remove the rust and take care of your winter equipmentTo reduce the risk of skis rusting it is important to maintain them, carefully remove the corrosion and secure dry storage out of the season.

It is important to keep in mind that maintenance is half of the work, and it needs to be done regularly, and with the required attention and dedication to doing the work properly.

Table of Contents

Why Do Skis Rust?

All types of skis have a certain percentage of steel or another type of metal in them. Depending on the type and the quality of production, skis can be more or less prone to rust.

How fast the steel will rust will depend on the grade and method of production. Besides, exposure to air, water, or even contact with other metals can cause a galvanic reaction.

The term ‘rust’ for skis implies that there is an oxide color layer on the metals with iron content. On the other hand, aluminum corrodes very quickly, but you will not be able to see the usual ‘rusty color’. It is because its oxide layer is white.

Newer ski models corrode more often because of lowered production standards and the quality of the material. Most ‘modern’ skis have a high Chinesium content, which is why it is necessary to wipe down the skis the moment you stop skiing. Also, when the end of the season is nearing, and consequently the snow starts melting, the water percentage is much higher.

Depending on the grade of the steel (say as its “quality”), the prices of skis vary. Most people who go skiing for fun will go for the cheaper option and become shocked once they realize that their new skies have changed color.

Maintenance Is Key For Keeping Skiis Rust-Free

Virtually all manufacturers will tell you that skis, as resilient as they are (especially when they are used for extreme performances), require regular maintenance. People (especially newbies) tend to forget that skis are used over abrasive snow, collide with rocks and stumps, and often become exposed to extreme temperature changes, and other elements.

There are three things you need to consider if you are a proud owner of new, or old, but gold skis:

  • Maintain them during ski season
  • Properly store them during summer
  • Get them professionally serviced from time to time

Ski Season Maintenance

Even though it may not seem as important, during transport, your skis should be properly set. Always use a Velcro tie (yes, even when you are walking to the lift) and never let the steel edges scissor. It will dull them reducing their efficiency in the snow.

The second or rather, the first rule is to always keep the skis waxed. Getting the skis hot waxed should be a practice every 3-4 days of skiing, and maintained with a paste was daily.

Low-budget skiers may not have extra cash for this necessary ‘luxury’ but should manage somehow. Any waxing brand, similar to engine oil, should be used on the skis. But this doesn’t mean you should combine waxing brands that are meant for other types of equipment. Snowboard wax isn’t the same as skateboard wax just like ski wax isn’t the same as surf wax.

Any wax is better than no wax. Make a polishing routine and a pocket stone for your winter season best friends (which we will explain why in a minute).

Summer Storage

To tackle any potential confusion, the term ‘summer’ here refers to that part of the year when your skis are stored somewhere for a longer period of time. So, during the time you are not skiing and need to put them away,  there are some preparations to be done.

Start by drying and cleaning them in depth. Check every millimeter for indentation or other potential damage, get them repaired, and polish the edges. It is a good time to consider getting the base stone-ground by a professional. Remember to request a cold-snow structure ready for next winter and cold temperatures.

Then iron in a layer of soft wax with low melting temperature. There is no need for a specialized wax when pure paraffin will do. It will get absorbed deeply into the base and seal the porous structure of the sky. You should not let the polyethylene dry out because oxygen will get in the pores and oxidize the base losing its gliding efficiency.

Leave a thick coat on the base and edges, and store the skis in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated space. Finally, remember to scrape the soft wax off of the skis before using them, and iron in a coat of all-purpose glide wax that is suitable for the winter snow.

Give the Skis a Spa Treatment

As bizarre as it may sound, skis are used to their fullest extent during the entire season. That is why they require a full service, especially if you go skiing more than once a year. Having a professional clean and tidy up all the indentations and rust build-up will secure your budget from having to buy or rent any new skis in the future.

Check with the manufacturer, salesperson, or local service whether or not they provide a full-scale maintenance service. It would be best to stay in touch with the manufacturer as they use factory tuning and standards for all of their merchandise. It is a good investment to enhance the longevity of the ski.

Make Polishing Your ‘Snow Routine’

Polishing edges daily will prevent corrosion or any dirt build-up. Get a fine diamonded stone, but use an accurate file guide to keep the stone aligned with the base and side level.

Check with your manufacturer for specific instructions on how to do this. Carry a pocket stone wherever you go and deal with minor burrs immediately. Leaving them untreated, you are creating a great base for rust.

Woman with pink skis with no rust on them

How to Avoid Edge Rust on Skis?

There are quite a few things to consider, so we’ve compiled a list of tips on what to do to make sure that your chances of your edges catching rust are minimal.

  1. Dry skies before storing or shipping, and don’t zip wet skis in any bag or container.
  2. Avoid storing skis on a car roof rack if they are unprotected. Any chance that you simply don’t have space or proper bags, immediately use two rags (the first one to collect the water, and a second one to dry off the moisture completely).
  3. Don’t leave skis in the open sun as ultraviolet light damages plastic, breaking down polyethylene molecules, making the skis weaker and brittle.

More experienced skiers might want to maintain their own equipment, which is great, but there is a specific order of activities that they should follow. Cleaning and drying the base every time is the most secure way to avoid rust, or at least take it to the minimum if the material is lower graded.

Secondly, always clean up the steel edges with a diamond stone, and then polish them with a bevel tool. After that iron the skis with a coat of hard base wax (never burn or smoke it). After this, leave the skis to cool at room temperature. The next day you can brush the wax with a polycarbonate scraper (from tip to tail), brush it out with a brass brush, and polish everything up with a fiber pad.

So, Is It Normal For Skis to Rust?

Skis will rust if they are left without regular maintenance, basically all year round. There is a high chance of the mildest corrosion, but that does happen often and is nothing that you should worry about.

Keep in mind that by preventing oxidation and doing regular maintenance, you are taking precautions for your own safety. Skiing with a bar or even non-existent gear tune will make the difference between a good ski day and an edge-catching, ankle-twisting, snow-grabbing mess on the slopes.

It is better to focus on keeping them clean and dry, especially when they are out of the snow. The biggest difference you should make is to make sure that your skis are dry and clean before a deep coat waxes during summer, before storage.

Clean the base, polish, and dry out thoroughly before waxing. Let them dry in a well-ventilated, room temperature, and moisture-free environment. Be extra generous when applying the steel edges, as well as the sidewalks to prevent oxidation.

If you would rather try to learn how to do everything on your own, be smart, and offer a larger tip to the man doing the service at the ski shop and ask them for a few demonstrations with explanations on how to do each step, you need a little luck and charm and you will be on your way in no time.

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