Wax on, wax off: Colorado company offering plant-based ski wax this winter
MountainFlow Wax tested over 200 formulas over the years before launching eco-friendly wax
MountainFlow Wax, based in Carbondale, is on a mission to help skiers and snowboarders “wax on, wax off” with the environment in mind.
“I think our story is that whatever you put on your skis ends up in the snowpack and then in your local rivers,” said Peter Arlein, founder and CEO of MountainFlow Wax. “I think most people don’t know that ski wax is made from petroleum, so our job is to get the word out there and offer a different option.”
Today, MountainFlow Wax is launching a Kickstarter campaign to offer a plant-based ski wax, which will be available in some local stores this winter and available for pre-order now.
Since 2016, Arlein has been working on a recipe for a reliable, sustainable ski wax.
“Just like you can have a soy candle versus a regular petroleum-based candle, you can do the same thing with ski wax,” he said. “It’s really finding the right waxes to use and then the right ratio of each type of wax to make it something that skis really well.”
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For MountainFlow’s plant-based wax, Arlein uses about five to six different waxes to make the product.
“That’s kind of what sets us apart,” Arlein said of other companies trying to enter the plant-based ski wax market. “Other people have tried this in the past, but it just didn’t ski that well and I think it was mostly soy products, which is fairly inexpensive and easy to find, but it’s really bringing in those different waxes that make it super fast.”
Last year, Arlein did performance tests, including one comparing a set of skis with petroleum wax pitted against their plant-based wax, “and the performance was the same,” he said.
Arlein said two years ago he came up with a little over 200 different formulas to test before they dialed it into a wax that maintained performance. All formulas were tested by friends as well as shops across the region.
“It worked great,” said Chris Andersen, owner of Kind Bikes and Skis in Edwards, who tested the product last winter at Beaver Creek.
Last year, Kind Bikes and Skis carried the wax with positive feedback.
“We intend to carry it again this year,” Andersen said.
The wax is applied like other waxes and also comes in a rub-on form.
“Everyone was asking for an eco-friendly ski wax,” Arlein said about starting his research years ago. “I was super surprised to learn that there was no plant-based option in the U.S. or Canada.”
The topic of eco-friendly ski wax has primarily flown under the radar, but MountainFlow Wax is hoping to change that.
“Sensitivity to the environment is fortunately at the front of people’s minds,” Andersen said. “When you think about the different types of waxes and some of the chemicals found in waxes and how they go onto the snow and then percolate down to the ground and into our groundwater systems — it’s a real concern both for wild habitat and human water supplies.
“If it’s possible to make something that’s natural that won’t harm our groundwater and habitat for our animals,” he continued, “it just makes sense.”