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Wax treatment for a chain?

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Wax treatment for a chain?

Old 02-12-07, 06:27 PM
  #1  
Alox
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Wax treatment for a chain?

After applying the umpteenth bottle of drip-lube to my foul-weather commuter, I began to remember hearing something about French roadies removing their chains and boiling them in wax for a deep-penetrating, long-lasting, low-grime attracting lubrication system. Can anyone confirm this? What do you do? Just heat the wax in a pan and toss in the chain, or is there something more?

Also, what wax should one use? I'd think that heavy pipe thread (plumber's) wax might be tenacious and waterproof when dry, but then again some high-tech, graphite impregnated ski base wax might be a better choice?
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Old 02-12-07, 06:40 PM
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Parafin wax is what's recommended by Both Frank Berto and Grant Peterson. It comes in blocks. You buy it wherever home canning supplies are sold.
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Old 02-12-07, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Alox
After applying the umpteenth bottle of drip-lube to my foul-weather commuter, I began to remember hearing something about French roadies removing their chains and boiling them in wax for a deep-penetrating, long-lasting, low-grime attracting lubrication system. Can anyone confirm this? What do you do? Just heat the wax in a pan and toss in the chain, or is there something more?
I used to do that, using an electric crock pot. I used "Hock Chain Wax" which is no longer available.

Another recipe I've heard is paraffin wax with a bit of STP added (about 10:1 wax to STP.)

However, based on my experience with this, it is something I might recommend to a "fair weather" cyclist, but would definitely NOT recommend for a "foul-weather commuter." The wax really doesn't work well in wet conditions, and offers no protection against rust.

For me, nothing works quite as well as Phil Wood Tenacious Oil, and that's what I use.

See: http://sheldonbrown.com/chains

Sheldon "It's Green!" Brown
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Old 02-12-07, 07:15 PM
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I'm a waxer, have been for some two years now. Combination of wax a chain-bar oil. If I had to guess, probably close to 66% wax, 33% oil (I just put the blocks in the crock and fill the voids with oil.

The oil probably staves off the wet weather deterioration a bit longer.

I have one bike I use primarily for wet weather riding. Its chain gets hosed with WD-40 fairly regularly. Don't really care about chain life, it gets the hand me downs from all the others.
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Old 02-12-07, 08:53 PM
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I understand that melting paraffin presents some degree of fire hazard. An MSDS shows the melting point to be 128 degrees and the flash point to be 385 degrees. Ever heard of anybody starting a fire in the process of lubing a chain?
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Old 02-12-07, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by JanMM
I understand that melting paraffin presents some degree of fire hazard. An MSDS shows the melting point to be 128 degrees and the flash point to be 385 degrees. Ever heard of anybody starting a fire in the process of lubing a chain?
There is that hazard which is why, as Sheldon noted, you should use a low heat crock pot or a double boiler to avoid direct heat. It is flammable but it does not have the same flammable fume danger you have with gasoline. Use low indirect heat.

The only benefit I knew of was that the wax was for a cleaner chain. Harder for it to pick up grit, less staining of your leg or clothes. The more oil you use the less benefit of the wax but the longer the lube would last. The more wax, the less grime in suspension but the wax flakes off relatively quickly.

Others may have more info on the technique. Sheldon probably has a write up on his site.
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Old 02-12-07, 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Sheldon Brown
Another recipe I've heard is paraffin wax with a bit of STP added (about 10:1 wax to STP.)

However, based on my experience with this, it is something I might recommend to a "fair weather" cyclist, but would definitely NOT recommend for a "foul-weather commuter." The wax really doesn't work well in wet conditions, and offers no protection against rust.

For me, nothing works quite as well as Phil Wood Tenacious Oil, and that's what I use.

See: http://sheldonbrown.com/chains

Sheldon "It's Green!" Brown
My recipe was paraffin wax with a bit of Slick50 at about the same ratio as you mentioned for STP.

I've gone around and around and around with guys on this forum concerning wax and it's poor capablity to perform in wet conditions as well as the rusting problem; finally someone else more acknowlegeable then me who knows this fact has spoken up!!
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Old 02-12-07, 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by masiman
There is that hazard which is why, as Sheldon noted, you should use a low heat crock pot or a double boiler to avoid direct heat. It is flammable but it does not have the same flammable fume danger you have with gasoline. Use low indirect heat.

The only benefit I knew of was that the wax was for a cleaner chain. Harder for it to pick up grit, less staining of your leg or clothes. The more oil you use the less benefit of the wax but the longer the lube would last. The more wax, the less grime in suspension but the wax flakes off relatively quickly.

Others may have more info on the technique. Sheldon probably has a write up on his site.
The secret to preventing a fire was to first clean the chain real well...but in reality the fire risk was real low especially if you treated it with wax the last time.

I didn't have a crock pot when I did the wax thing; but indirect heat was done by first heating a pot of water to boil on the stove; place bits of wax into a can then place the can into the boiling pot of water; after the wax has melted drop the chain into the can with the melted wax then turn the heat down-the wax will stay melted; let it soak until you see no more bubbles coming off the chain links, these bubbles are simply air being displaced by the wax; this whole process takes about 30 to 45 minutes. After the bubbling has stopped removed the chain with pair of pliers or screwdriver and wipe the chain down with a rag being careful not to touch the chain because it will still be very hot; then let it hang to dry.

This stuff actually works ok but I was able to improve upon just straight wax by mixing in Slick50 at about 10% ratio to the wax but it may have been more I don't remember. Slick50 won't catch fire either...duh or cars would have been catching fire years ago.

The only real advantage to waxing like this is that you chain stays so clean it looks new even after you've rode it for 300 miles! But the downside is the water thing and the rust thing. I also felt that there seemed to be more driveline drag with wax then other regular oil like Finish Line Teflon Dry.
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Old 02-13-07, 10:22 PM
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White Lightening or Pedros wax products are lame attempts to bottle wax and make it easy to apply without going through the hassle I described. Unfortunately bottle wax does not last anywhere near as long as paraffin wax will; your looking at about 65 miles with bottle wax vs about 300 miles with paraffin. However keep in mind that wax is useless in water and your chain will still rust, plus I don't think it's as slick as products like Finish Line Teflon Dry to name just one, but it will stay very clean.
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Old 02-14-07, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by froze
White Lightening or Pedros wax products are lame attempts to bottle wax and make it easy to apply without going through the hassle I described. Unfortunately bottle wax does not last anywhere near as long as paraffin wax will; your looking at about 65 miles with bottle wax vs about 300 miles with paraffin. However keep in mind that wax is useless in water and your chain will still rust, plus I don't think it's as slick as products like Finish Line Teflon Dry to name just one, but it will stay very clean.
ProLink FTW. Charlie Cunningham of WTB fame was once asked how often he replaced his chains. He said he used to change them about every 2500 to 3000 miles on the road, but nowadays, he was "having a hard time wearing 'em out since he switched to ProLink. That's good enough for me, and experience bears this out.
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Old 02-14-07, 11:29 AM
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I've had good luck with Dumonde Tech in decent weather and Phil's Tenacious oil in rain/snow conditions.
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Old 02-14-07, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by BikeWise1
ProLink FTW. Charlie Cunningham of WTB fame was once asked how often he replaced his chains. He said he used to change them about every 2500 to 3000 miles on the road, but nowadays, he was "having a hard time wearing 'em out since he switched to ProLink. That's good enough for me, and experience bears this out.
I've heard from various reliable sources that ProLink is probably the best. I will be trying that stuff as soon as I run out of my Finish Line.

Speaking of chain wear; when I tried the liquid wax from all the manufactures over a period of 3 years, I've found my chain life was decreased by at least 66%; that fact alone made me get away from liquid wax fast. And your miles you stated for between 2,500 and 3,000 miles was close to what I got from 5 different chains; when I got away from liquid wax my chain life went to 9,000 to 12,000 miles...BUT please note, I use the wider old school chains, they last longer then the newer thinner ones do naturally.
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Old 02-15-07, 08:22 AM
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I've been using for a while on my bicycle. Parrafin wax mixed with some other lubricants (a blend of them). Anyway, I melt the parrafin blocks and lubes together in a small coffee can (using a pan filled with water--don't put it directly on the burner--the stuff is flamable!) to make the initial mixture (this is a one time step). Before the initial wax lube, be sure to clean the chain thoroughly making sure to get out all of the old lube. After it hardens, I put the chain on top of the wax/lube mixture, do the meltdown process again and wait. Once the chain is submerged in the melted wax, I let it cook for 5 minutes. Upon pulling it out, let it dry for about 1-2 minutes and holding the chain in both hands make a U shape. Then move one hand down and the other up--do about 20 times. Doing that will help get the stuff in the really private parts of the chain before it dries completely. Install and ride. One treatment lasts me a good 400 miles, is dry and doesn't attract any dirt--and my chains last a really long time before they've stretched to needing replacement. On future treatments, you will only need to clear off any loose dirt, the heating of the chain in the mixture drives out the internal stuff. One can of wax will last you quite a while. All in all, a normal treatment takes about 30 minutes or so.
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Old 02-15-07, 09:29 AM
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I've tried wax and ProLink, and I am not totally satisfied with either.
I concur that wax doesn't work well in wet conditions, It may be great for dry desert conditions like Moab.
A dry chain doesn't pick up any grit.

Pro Link works in the wet but picks up grit as much as anything elese. Well maybe less than Phil Tenacious.
I think the key is to just put a very small amount on.
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Old 03-14-07, 11:35 PM
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An extra measure to prolong the cleanliness of a freshly cleaned/lubed chain is a trick from my offroad motorcycling days. I put talcum powder in my palm and run it along the entire chain to "pre-filth" the sticky exterior surface of the chain.

Keeps my chainrings and cogs less gritty even in sandy conditions.
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Old 05-13-07, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by masiman
There is that hazard which is why, as Sheldon noted, you should use a low heat crock pot or a double boiler to avoid direct heat. It is flammable but it does not have the same flammable fume danger you have with gasoline. Use low indirect heat.
A guy in this thread said you need to heat the paraffin to at least 300 degrees to ensure adequate penetration:
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...=284252&page=2

If that's true then I guess it wouldn't be surprising that people are having trouble when using a crockpot. Also, motorcycle riders seem to insist that the chain needs to also be heated too...I'm not sure how many people trying paraffin around here are doing that.

If anyone wants to try this then please remember that paraffin's flash point isn't much higher than 300 degrees. The guy in that thread I mentioned recommended using a candy thermometer.

Last edited by makeinu; 05-13-07 at 05:57 PM.
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Old 05-13-07, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by skookum
It may be great for dry desert conditions like Moab.
A dry chain doesn't pick up any grit.
Actually it's not good for those conditions either. I use to live in the Mojave Desert area of California and used various brands of liquid wax and none would last more then 65 miles before the chain would start to sound off; so I had to carry a bottle with me so I could reapply DURING rides! On top of that my chains average life fell by about two thirds from my previous lube TriFlow; but the chains did stay, or at least looked cleaner...BIG DEAL! So after 4 chains wore out after about 4,000 miles I switched to FinishLine Teflon Dry and chains life went back to about 14,000 and more miles.
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Old 01-31-18, 10:12 AM
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Paraffin/motor oil is the ticket.

Originally Posted by JanMM View Post
I understand that melting paraffin presents some degree of fire hazard. An MSDS shows the melting point to be 128 degrees and the flash point to be 385 degrees. Ever heard of anybody starting a fire in the process of lubing a chain?
I have been using a motor oil/paraffin solution for chain lubrication for 20+ years. My take on this "hazard" is that you just have to pay attention to what you're doing. I heat my solution on a propane stove and I don't use a double-pan method. I just keep an eye on the solution and I turn the heat down immediately to a maintenance flame after the solution has reached a liquid state. If the melting point of the paraffin is 128 degrees, that's almost a 260 degree safety margin so I think a fire is very unlikely except in cases of gross negligence.

As for the late Sheldon Brown's comments, though I respect his opinion, I would disagree with his comment. I would never use Phil Wood Tenacious Oil on a chain. I have a bottle of it and it's much too thick to lubricate the inner workings of a chain. I'd have no problem riding in the rain with a motor oil/paraffin solution. I'd just not wipe the chain down as I do for dry weather. I seriously doubt that rust would be a problem. And anyone who rides frequently in the rain should be using fenders that would reduce the chain's exposure to rain except in the heaviest downpours.
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Old 01-31-18, 10:15 AM
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Im about to try out a Paraffin wax/motor oil mix. What ratio do you use or recommend?

Btw. This thread is 11 years old ;-)
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Old 01-31-18, 10:24 AM
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A guy in this thread said you need to heat the paraffin to at least 300 degrees to ensure adequate penetration
I think this is misinformation. As soon as the motor oil/paraffin solution reaches liquid state, I dip the chain. Within seconds there are bubbles coming up indicating that the lube is displacing the air in the inner parts of the chain. To bring the solution up 300 degrees seems to be completely unnecessary.

I would also add that there's a substantial difference between the drip-on wax lubes which I concur don't last very long and a motor oil/paraffin solution. I get a conservative 300 miles out of lube assuming dry weather. I don't have enough experience in rainy conditions to provide an estimate.
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Old 01-31-18, 10:28 AM
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Better late than never.

Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
Im about to try out a Paraffin wax/motor oil mix. What ratio do you use or recommend?

Btw. This thread is 11 years old ;-)
The thread may be eleven years old but this issue is still a current one. That you have posted and are interested more than justifies its continuance.

I am using one pound of Gulf Canning Paraffin to nine ounces of motor oil (Mobil 1 0W20). The two work together to provide excellent lubrication for shifting and corrosion protection.
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Old 01-31-18, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Houckster View Post
I think this is misinformation. As soon as the motor oil/paraffin solution reaches liquid state, I dip the chain. Within seconds there are bubbles coming up indicating that the lube is displacing the air in the inner parts of the chain. To bring the solution up 300 degrees seems to be completely unnecessary.

I would also add that there's a substantial difference between the drip-on wax lubes which I concur don't last very long and a motor oil/paraffin solution. I get a conservative 300 miles out of lube assuming dry weather. I don't have enough experience in rainy conditions to provide an estimate.
It is misinformation. You can just melt the wax in a small casserole and swish the chain around a little. I doesn't need to be all that hot and you only a small amount of wax is needed. I just tried taking a piece of chain apart treated this way and it was saturated all the way through. Ppl tend to over complicate things even if its not needed or doesn't help.
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Old 01-31-18, 12:15 PM
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just started using WD40 Wet Bike Lube. seems to hold up to a very wet ride followed by a good washing. it's pretty thick so you have to squeeze the bottle pretty hard to get it to come out but it works it's way in everywhere

Last edited by rumrunn6; 02-02-18 at 09:38 AM.
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Old 01-31-18, 01:53 PM
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Chain lube technology has changed a lot since this thread was started a decade ago, back in 2007, during the W Bush administration...
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Old 01-31-18, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
Chain lube technology has changed a lot since this thread was started a decade ago
damn! punked again!
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