This Carbondale Company Wants You to Know What's In Your Ski Wax
Hint: It’s not good for the environment
One Carbondale-based company is seeking to help the environment — one block of ski wax at a time. mountainFLOW was founded three years ago by Peter Arlein to create a planted-based ski wax and other eco-friendly ski products.
Arlein has been in the ski industry for 20 years; starting in high school as a ski instructor and flipping burgers, eventually moving over to the marketing and advertising side of things. And along the way — as he interacted with ski shop owners, skiers and other industry members — that there was a real need for an eco-friendly ski wax option.
“Nearly all ski wax in the world is made from petroleum, and whatever you put on your skis, ends up in the snow pack and directly into local rivers,” Arlein says. “The fact that we're drilling oil to make ski wax, and then putting that oil based product in the environment just for recreational skiers, it seemed like there had to be a better solution.”
According to Arlein, across the world millions of pounds of wax gets introduced into the snow pack each year.
So, Arlein and the mountainFLOW team spent two years researching and developing a formula that is made entirely from plants, is completely biodegradable and doesn’t skimp on performance. While there are a few other companies out there working to create more sustainable ski wax (including another Colorado brand Purl Wax) mountainFLOW claims to be the first plant-based formula in North America.
“You can have the most eco friendly products in the world, but if it doesn't ski well you don't really have anything,” Arlein says. “Last year, we ran a bunch of controlled performance tests … and the performance was essentially the same.”
Currently, the team has three products: an anti-stick spray that goes on the top of skis to prevent snow build-up in the backcountry; a skin wax for climbing skins to prevent them from icing up; and its plant-based, iron-on ski wax. In the future, the brand is planning to launch a rub-on wax that requires less equipment to apply than the standard iron-on wax.
Aside from the products themselves, of which all are eco-friendly — the waxes are all plant-based and the spray products are water-based — the company is making an effort to be sustainable throughout the supply chain.
“We source all of our raw materials domestically, and we produce everything domestically as well. So that cuts down on the mileage for bringing in products,” Arlein says. “And we try to find suppliers that have an emphasis on sustainable sourcing.”
The company recently launched its products in the past few weeks, but is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to both raise awareness and fund its first production run. Ultimately, the goal is to get it into retail shops, ski resorts and direct-to-consumers.
“Getting into resort ski shops is really big,” he says. “Those guys are tuning their rental fleet every single night. A big Colorado ski resort could have four- or five-thousand rental skis in their lineup, and they're getting waxed almost every single day, so that's a really big push for us right now, just because it's the quickest way for us to really make an impact on the environment.”