Buying a pole: Finish
I’m writing this blog entry to continue the “Buying a Pole” series that started with Thickness . The next (and final) part of this series will be a comparison of the different manufacturers and how the poles are assembled and put together. The goal is not to give a recommendation on a specific type or brand of pole, but to provide truthful information to all of you who are considering buying a pole for yourselves. There’s a lot of incorrect information floating around out there.
First of all, I want to emphasize: a slippery pole is MOST OFTEN a result of a dry, cold poling environment or dry, cold skin.
For optimal poling, you need moist, slightly humid air AND skin (but not so moist or humid that you get sweaty and slide). Use pole-safe moisturizers to keep your skin supple! There is no excuse for ashy skin even in the dead of winter! If you take a long hot shower with the door open, it can hydrate the air in the room and warm up your body at the same time. Or spend a song in sweatpants and a hoodie rolling around on the floor to make sure your core temperature gets elevated. I like to do headstands in the middle of the room, and hold them each for as long as I can—a few of those, with leg variations, and I’m toasty, a little sweaty, and ready to go. Especially if you are poling at home, take the time to figure out a warmup that works for you, and that you will do each and every time you pole. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for frustration and possibly injury.
Different pole materials have different properties. If you select a “sticker” finish to make up a dry, cold environment, keep in mind that the same area that is cold and dry in the winter can be hot and muggy in the summer, and you may end up with a pole that is overly sticky in the summertime—which is really no fun. I’ve gotten lots of pole burns, abrasions, and ugly brusies/skin tears from a pole that was too sticky, and you would not BELIEVE how painful a thigh hold is on a pole that is so sticky that it rips your skin. Seasonal environmental issues can be overcome by maintaining the moisture and warmth in your body, or using some grip aid when necessary. If you are in a suboptimal environment, use a humidifier, heater, air conditioner, or dehumidifier to alter the air FIRST before you give up on the pole.
OOOOOkay. That being said, lets talk about different pole finishes. There are two types: solid metal, and plated.
- Plated: These poles are manufactured by using different processes to cause a thin layer of a specific finish to adhere to a raw steel tube. The thickness of the finish varies by manufacturer and process, but wear and tear on a plated pole, even over many years, will NOT cause the plating to rub off. However, if a piece is dropped or dinged, it IS possible that the plating can flake or chip off, leaving sharp edges—which is also why a plated pole should NEVER BE SANDED with sandpaper—which is a technique that some people use to make their poles rougher, and therefore more grippy. If the finish of your pole starts to get damaged, call the manufacturer and have parts replaced.
- Solid Metal: These poles are always made out of either stainless steel or brass, and the pieces are solid metal through and through. However, brass and stainless steel are actually combinations of metals and not a single pure element, so there is no such thing as a “pure” stainless steel or brass pole. Every manufacturer has a slightly different finishing process, and uses slightly different mixes of the component metals to make their poles, which results in poles with different properties even thought the metal may be the same.
And now let’s talk about each finish. I’ve listed them in what is widely accepted as the least sticky finish to the most sticky. Keep in mind that in a moist, humid environment you probably want a “less” sticky pole, whereas in a cold, dry environment you probably want a more sticky pole. Also, when you are first learning, and building up strength for static holds and grips, you will find ALL poles difficult to stick on and hold on to. It’s just the way it goes. As you get stronger and more experienced, you will be able to adjust more easily.
- Stainless steel: Because stainless steel is a blend of different metals, there are different “grades” of stainless steel and if you have nickel allergies, you still may react to a stainless steel pole (although it’s not very likely).
- Chrome: The plating process is heavily regulated (because of the heavy metals involved), but after the chrome plating is laid on the pole, it is a perfectly safe coating and is not in any way shape or form toxic. However, people with nickel allergies may find themselves getting contact dermatitis from the nickel that is in the chrome, so if this is an issue for you, steer clear.
- Titanium gold: This is a plated finish as well, but there is an electric current run though the pole pieces after they are finished, which creates a thin layer of gold coloring on top of the plating. If the gold coloring wears off, it does NOT affect the plating of the pole and it does NOT mean that the titanium layer has been stripped off. It only means that the extremely thin layer of titanium that was colored gold, has been worn away. Those with skin allergies may also have issues with titanium gold.
- Brass: Brass is an alloy composed of a few different metals. Different proportions of those metals can change the properties of the resulting brass, allowing brass to range from a very sticky, more malleable and softer metal to a relatively hard and stable metal that is not as “sticky” for poling.
- Powder coated: This is a sprayed paint finish that is baked on, like car paint. It’s very durable and comes in many bright colors. You can buy your pole powder-coated or have it powder-coated locally.
I hope that helped some of y’all out there! My honest opinion is that it’s always best, if possible, to try out a pole under a few different conditions before you commit to it, if possible. But, you can also buy small pieces of different poles to test them out at home. You won’t be able to mount them and spin on them as you would an actual pole, but it might help you get an idea. Any manufacturer that sells pole extensions will have them for sale separately on their website, and you can buy a 2 or 3 foot extension in brass, chrome, stainless steel, or titanium gold for less than $50.
Do you have anything to add to the conversation about different pole finishes and materials?
Tomorrow’s post: Tuesday Tips…