How Swix researched fluoro-free ski waxes
Today's fluoro-free ski wax from Swix is the result of thousands of hours of testing, errors, research and lab work.
"It is important for Swix to become fluoro-free because it has gradually been well documented that fluorine has harmful effects on health and the environment," says Swix’s development manager Christian Gløgård in the Skisporet podcast."
Early research into the consequences of fluorine
Swix cut all production and sales of fluoro-containing ski waxes in 2020, but the work towards fluoro-free skiing began long before this, and long before a fluoro ban was introduced in the World Cup.
"In 2009–10, the first reports showed that PFOA was found in wax. PFOA is currently a prohibited substance associated with fluorine. This was taken very seriously at an early stage," Gløgård continues.
Tour of the factory: The development manager at Swix, Christian Gløgård, shows fluoro-free ski waxes inside Swix’s factory in Lillehammer. Watch a video of this here.
Cut out dangerous fluorine
At that time, Swix collaborated with the FHI (Norwegian Institute of Public Health) and Stami (Norwegian Institute of Occupational Health) to find out what the extent of the problem with fluorine in ski waxes actually was.
Further reading: VP – a fluoro-free grip wax from Swix
Swix then started the work of cutting out what is known as long-chain fluorine technology (C8) from the ski wax. Long-chain fluorine technology was banned in the EU in 2020.
Swix moved to C6, which is short-chain fluorine technology, until all fluorine was cut in 2020. The C6 chain fluoride technology is still permitted in the EU.
Work on fluoro-free ski wax began
Swix and SINTEF began researching new substances that could replace the fluorine in ski waxes back in 2013. The substances had to have the same properties as fluorine, being able to provide a good glide on the skis, but also be degradable.
Further reading: Easy glide without waxing iron
“In our top range of wax for gliders, which is called Swix TS, we have replaced the fluorine with two types of substances.” These are substances that are hydrophobic but also biodegradable. This means that when these substances come into contact with soil and water, they are broken down into sand and water. “These are two substances that have different properties, but which work together,” says Christian Gløgård.
Several types of fluoro-free ski wax
Today, you’ll find fluoro-free ski wax for all types of use: From liquid glide wax that is sprayed directly onto the skis to powder for competitions and products used for alpine skis. The products are the result of hours of testing, trial and error, research and lab work.
Further reading: Ski wax and equipment for ski mountaineering
"The ski waxes sold today are technologically much more advanced products than the fluorine products they replace," says Gløgård. Listen to him here.
Proud of the work
In the same episode of the podcast, you will also get to know Espen Falck Engelstad, director of Brav, the company which owns Swix. He stresses that launching Swix as completely fluoro-free is something that means a lot to him.
“It’s developments like these that makes you very proud of working at Swix and the company,” says Falck Engelstad."