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Melting wax

Old 05-13-22, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by panzerwagon
I echo the preference for avoiding teflon due to environmental concerns. My local Goodwill yielded a small crockpot with a lid for next to nothing. It also serves as dust-free storage for my beeswax and canning wax mix when not in use.

Best decision ever, but I find that re-waxing is required after 150-200 miles max.
There is an effort in the ski world to move away from fluoro waxes as well. I started waxing with MSW, but we are already having issues locally with water contamination from PFOA/PFAS and while my chain wax probably pales in comparison to things like firefighting foam from the station further up the creek drainage, I fish nearly as much as I ride and it has prompted me to make a switch next time. I think the Silca wax looks like a winner on this front and for those that care about watts it seems to perform well on the Zero Friction Cycling tests (https://zerofrictioncycling.com.au/w...ng-Round-1.pdf). For me the watts don't matter hugely for my riding except that efficiency = reduced wear. Though others have homebrew mixtures that work well, for me the hit to my pocketbook upfront from 'expensive' wax has easily paid for itself several times over in reduced wear on drivetrain parts. I get around 350 miles/wax in dry conditions, but doing multiple (3-4) chains each time and using quick links makes the process relatively pain free. Haven't needed a new chain or cassette in ages.
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Old 05-14-22, 02:55 AM
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I've just started waxing chains.
I looked around for a cheap crock pot on Gumtree, then I remembered I had a wax warmer I bought for accordion waxing:

https://www.amazon.com/Guckmall-Kit%...ct_top?ie=UTF8

It's only about 0.5l but it's just big enough and the big advantage is you just set it for 95C and leave it for 30 mins.
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Old 05-14-22, 05:25 AM
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And of course there is the yet unmentioned aesthetic benefit. All the time spent finding, fixing, polishing, maintaining C&V cycles- I want mine to be nice and clean!

For the heck of it, this is my routine with a brand new chain (or one that was previously greased..)-
I put the chain into a large, large-mouth jar (I've got a plastic one that originally had some kind of protein powder in it).
Fill with enough mineral spirits to cover the chain.
Put on the lid and swish it around for a good 3 minutes or so.
Let it sit for a while. Sometimes overnight, and if/when I think of it I swish it around some more.
I'm careful not to swish it around for a while before I fish the chain out (especially if I'm stripping an old/dirty chain- I want the grit, etc to stay settled on the bottom).
Wipe the chain down, hang it on something.
Pour the mineral spirits into a disposal container (to be later taken to the local dump/transfer station/haz waste disposal).
Wipe out the jar well with paper towels.
Chain back in, cover with mineral spirits again.
Repeat the swishing, sitting.
Pull the chain, wipe, hang.
This time I pour the mineral spirits into another jar and save it to use next time for the first bath.
Wipe out the jar, put the chain back in and repeat the above steps using denatured alcohol- I suspect this may be overkill, but I do it anyway.
After the second denatured alcohol bath wipe the chain and hang it to dry out well.
Melt my wax mix in the mini-crock pot. Usually I just put the chain in on top of the wax when I turn the pot on.
I probably leave the chain in for at least an hour after the wax has melted, giving it an occasional stir.
Fish the chain out, wipe it down with paper towels and hang it to cool down.
Run the chain back and forth around a secured piece of metal pipe to loosen it up.
Make sure the chain is the right length, put it on the bike and ride! (or, put it in a baggie/box and have it at the ready for when I need a clean chain)

Seems like a lot of steps/work, but it really isn't too bad. I usually do a couple chains at a time. I usually buy a couple chains at a time, too, when I see them on sale, or if I'm ordering some bike thing and need to add another something to the order to get to the 'free shipping' amount or whatever.

gloves & glasses worn when dealing with chemicals!
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Old 05-14-22, 07:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Cynikal
Google "double boiler". If you go the sauce pan route, make sure you heat it in a pot of water otherwise it could catch fire.
Well, I have one here but I've found repurposing items from the kitchen without my wife's permission "causes health issues". I could get one cheaply enough and I do have a "hot plate" that I could use instead of the range, or even the tabletop gas grill. I guess I just need to break away from the crock pot idea.

Originally Posted by nlerner
I added powdered PTFE to my wax after reading about its lubrication properties. In terms of longevity, I’m getting around 400 miles for each application.
Hmm, now to look up "powdered PTFE" to locate a source. Maybe.

Originally Posted by ehcoplex
And of course there is the yet unmentioned aesthetic benefit. All the time spent finding, fixing, polishing, maintaining C&V cycles- I want mine to be nice and clean!

For the heck of it, this is my routine with a brand new chain (or one that was previously greased..)- I put the chain into a large, large-mouth jar (I've got a plastic one that originally had some kind of protein powder in it). Fill with enough mineral spirits to cover the chain. Put on the lid and swish it around for a good 3 minutes or so.
Let it sit for a while. Sometimes overnight, and if/when I think of it I swish it around some more. I'm careful not to swish it around for a while before I fish the chain out (especially if I'm stripping an old/dirty chain- I want the grit, etc to stay settled on the bottom). Wipe the chain down, hang it on something.
Pour the mineral spirits into a disposal container (to be later taken to the local dump/transfer station/haz waste disposal). Wipe out the jar well with paper towels. Chain back in, cover with mineral spirits again. Repeat the swishing, sitting. Pull the chain, wipe, hang. This time I pour the mineral spirits into another jar and save it to use next time for the first bath. Wipe out the jar, put the chain back in and repeat the above steps using denatured alcohol- I suspect this may be overkill, but I do it anyway. After the second denatured alcohol bath wipe the chain and hang it to dry out well. Melt my wax mix in the mini-crock pot. Usually I just put the chain in on top of the wax when I turn the pot on. I probably leave the chain in for at least an hour after the wax has melted, giving it an occasional stir. Fish the chain out, wipe it down with paper towels and hang it to cool down. Run the chain back and forth around a secured piece of metal pipe to loosen it up. Make sure the chain is the right length, put it on the bike and ride! (or, put it in a baggie/box and have it at the ready for when I need a clean chain) Seems like a lot of steps/work, but it really isn't too bad. I usually do a couple chains at a time. I usually buy a couple chains at a time, too, when I see them on sale, or if I'm ordering some bike thing and need to add another something to the order to get to the 'free shipping' amount or whatever. gloves & glasses worn when dealing with chemicals!
Lots of ideas there. I already have mineral spirits. A jar should be easy to locate, plus fabricating a "grit guard" to isolate the dirt at the bottom of the jar like I use on car-washing buckets. I see you do this with a new chain to get "factory" oil/grewase off... do you do all this cleaning when you re-wax"
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Last edited by tiger1964; 05-14-22 at 07:08 AM. Reason: sp
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Old 05-14-22, 07:14 AM
  #30  
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You don't have to make this a big deal. Dedicated mini crockpot you can keep outside or in the garage. Canning wax. You don't need to strip with anything more toxic or inconvenient than a paper towel. You don't need powdered teflon. You don't need any magic ingredients. Spend that money on some quick-links and the Park chain pliers.
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Old 05-14-22, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by tiger1964
I see you do this with a new chain to get "factory" oil/grewase off... do you do all this cleaning when you re-wax"
Nope, just new chains. Or maybe if a chain somehow gets really really dirty or contaminated. Otherwise I just put a chain that needs fresh wax into the crock pot after a quick wipe with a paper towel.
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Old 05-14-22, 12:02 PM
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I do exactly what ehcoplex does. And no, you don't need to do any of this messy stuff when rewaxing...just drop the chain in, warm up the pot, swish around, run chain over a pipe to loosen the links, easy peasy.
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Old 05-14-22, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by ehcoplex
And of course there is the yet unmentioned aesthetic benefit. All the time spent finding, fixing, polishing, maintaining C&V cycles- I want mine to be nice and clean!
A chain properly lubricated with oil won’t be dirty.
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Old 05-14-22, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by scarlson
I have used a tuna fish can on an old laboratory hotplate.
Several years ago we had a major fire where I work. The cause was an old laboratory hotplate. Be careful, and always unplug it when you are done.
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Old 05-16-22, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark
Several years ago we had a major fire where I work. The cause was an old laboratory hotplate. Be careful, and always unplug it when you are done.
Of course!
I use it to scald milk for yogurt, too, because it has a temp sensor and can stir magnetically. My first one died by shorting and arcing, and this is the same Corning brand and model, so I'm suitably cautious. I would never leave it unattended or plugged in when not in use.

I've got a relative who is fire chief in a small Vermont town. He is more concerned about my hotplate than my oxy/pro brazing setup, mostly because the brazing torch can't really be left unattended while on.
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Old 05-16-22, 06:53 PM
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Make the fire chief happy. Get a nice safe little crock pot.
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Old 05-16-22, 11:45 PM
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Originally Posted by tiger1964
I really like the concept of melted wax on a chain -- wow, the chain stays clean looking!

Really no idea on best frequency on rewaxing and, if the chain is not full of debris from using oil/grease, do I really need to aggressively clean the chain before any reapplication?

My real problem is the melting part. The brand is Speed Wax, and they recommend using a mini electric crock pot, so I bought one from Amazon called Elite Gourmet, 1.5qt. However, two hours on HIGH and the wax really was only marginally melted. Anyone else "doing the wax thing" and if so, using what to melt the wax? I'm almost ready to get a saucepan and heat on my wife's gas range ( ).
I use an electric wok for wax, melts it in minutes instead of hours and you can usually find one for a few bucks at a thrift store.
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Old 05-17-22, 06:22 AM
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Sounds like a dedicated sauce pan on the stove is the easiest/cheapest/most convenient. Are people really worried about fires?
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Old 05-17-22, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by smd4
Sounds like a dedicated sauce pan on the stove is the easiest/cheapest/most convenient. Are people really worried about fires?
There is a risk, especially with a gas range. Over a certain temperature, the wax becomes vapor, and combustible.
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Old 05-17-22, 07:30 AM
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Originally Posted by BFisher
There is a risk, especially with a gas range. Over a certain temperature, the wax becomes vapor, and combustible.
From what I've read, the risk isn't any greater than working with cooking oil.
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Old 05-17-22, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by smd4
From what I've read, the risk isn't any greater than working with cooking oil.
The flash point is roughly the same for cooking oils and common waxes, so I'd agree it's not a greater risk. I like the electric wok bc it was cheap, melts it just as quick as a stove top, and it can just live at the "correct" temp setting that will melt the wax but not ignite it. I can also plug it in anywhere instead of its function being tied to the range, so it lives in the shop instead of the kitchen.
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Old 05-17-22, 09:14 AM
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Makes sense.
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Old 05-17-22, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by bicyclemayhem
I use an electric wok for wax, melts it in minutes instead of hours and you can usually find one for a few bucks at a thrift store.
Is there Thrift Store Prime where I can order online and get it in two days? I think I went into a thrift store once, a decade ago. OTOH, for something like this, makes sense.

Originally Posted by smd4
Sounds like a dedicated sauce pan on the stove is the easiest/cheapest/most convenient. Are people really worried about fires?
Looking at a bunch of websites, lower limit for a double boiler is $30 delivered. That's probably where I am headed. I can take our hot plate out to our porch, where it would be very well ventilated. Hmm, water boils at 212F and I need to get the wax to 200F, I wonder if I am looking at a very narrow temp window?
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Old 05-17-22, 11:22 AM
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This is the crock pot I use. Only $17 and the perfect size. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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Old 05-17-22, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by smd4
From what I've read, the risk isn't any greater than working with cooking oil.
The flash point of plain paraffin wax is around 390°F.

The flash point of common vegetable oils is around 600°F.
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Old 05-17-22, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by davester
This is the crock pot I use. Only $17 and the perfect size. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
99% sure that's the one I have, same brand anyway. Over 2 hours to hit 200F, so I want to replace it.

Tempted to just get a saucepan and skip the double boiler route.
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Old 05-17-22, 05:30 PM
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The real question is, is it French wax or English wax? Domestic wax? No, it is not wax it all - it is a clue!
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Old 05-17-22, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by BFisher
The flash point of plain paraffin wax is around 390°F.
If you do the job correctly, and heat to the recommended temperature, you won’t get it that hot.
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Old 05-17-22, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by smd4
If you do the job correctly, and heat to the recommended temperature, you won’t get it that hot.
Point being, the risk is much greater with wax than with common vegetable oils, despite what you've read.

Wax on.
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Old 05-17-22, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by BFisher
Point being, the risk is much greater with wax than with common vegetable oils, despite what you've read.

Wax on.
I think there are much scarier things to be fearful of than melting wax in your house.

Wax off.
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