You wax downhill skis to make them slippery and to increase speed. Paraffin (candle wax) is a good, low-cost wax for downhill skiing. Faster waxes are also available in different consistencies and for different weather conditions. But waxing cross-country skis has another purpos – you want to achieve a balance between glide (or speed) and traction (or grip).
Cross-country ski waxes are available in two forms: the true waxes come in solid cakes: soft, glue like klister comes in tubes. Each form comes in several varieties that you match to weather and snow conditions: some are for higher temperatures, some for lower; some for new snow, some for old. You can usually apply a higher temperature wax over a lower one, but not vice versa. You can put a klister over a hard wax, but not vice versa. If necessary, use a scraper to remove old wax before applying a new coat.
To apply hard wax, hold your ski upright or lay it base up on a horizontal surface. Unwrap or peel the covering from the chosen wax, then simply crayon it over the base (but not in the center groove), using long, smooth strokes, When you have laid down a thin layer, rub over the wax firmly with a waxing cork, moving it from tip to tail.
How much of the base to cover depends upon the wax and the skis. On alpine skis, cover the base, from tip to tail, On cross-country skis, cover about one-third of the base-from 1 to 2 feet in front of the toe plate to just behind the heel plate-with kick wax. If you want extra speed, cover the rest of the ski with glide wax.
Klister requires more care; it is gooey and sticks to everything. Each tube usually comes with an applicator, a plastic stick with a flat end. To use, squeeze a bit of klister onto the ski base, then smooth it to a very thin layer with the applicator. Remove klister with turpentine or klister remover.