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Melting wax

Old 05-13-22, 12:07 PM
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Melting wax

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 ( ).
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Old 05-13-22, 12:17 PM
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I am using a rice cooker that I bought used. On "Cook" it melts it to a watery consistency. So I turn it on Cook to start it off, lower it to warm wait about 15 or so minutes and place the chain in the wax. I have a meat thermometer in the wax to monitor the temperature and try to remove it at about 200 degrees F. Or 93 degrees C. It is hot, you need gloves.

I go by the Oz Cycling method.


I don't add the Telon, just wax and lamp oil.

Last edited by Velo Mule; 05-13-22 at 01:21 PM. Reason: spelling, clarity, better info on technique
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Old 05-13-22, 12:30 PM
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I got a mini crockpot as a throw-in with a normal one at Costco. It takes about an hour or so to melt a block of wax.




The cliff bar is for sizing reference.
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Old 05-13-22, 12:42 PM
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Is there some reason you can't or shouldn't do it on the stove?
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Old 05-13-22, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by smd4
Is there some reason you can't or shouldn't do it on the stove?
Insufficient fire insurance.
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Old 05-13-22, 01:13 PM
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I use one of those mini crockpots. It does take a couple of hours. Plan ahead!
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Old 05-13-22, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark
I got a mini crockpot as a throw-in with a normal one at Costco. It takes about an hour or so to melt a block of wax.




The cliff bar is for sizing reference.
+1 for the Crock Pot Little Dipper, often spotted for cheap at local Goodwill. Everything you wanted to know here: https://cyclingtips.com/2020/08/how-...n-endless-faq/
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Old 05-13-22, 02:05 PM
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Yup, mini-crock pot. I think I got it from (cringe..) Walmart. Takes about an hour set on hi to fully melt.
If you're going the wax route, it's important to strip ALL of the grease from the chain (new or used) before treating.
I make my own mix of about 75/25 paraffin/bees wax. I think the bees wax helps a bit with adherence.
I keep a bottle of the Silca 'wax' lube and put a bit of that on if the chain starts to get squeaky and I don't have the time to change/rewax the chain.
When I rewax, I give the chain a quick wipe down with denatured alcohol, let it dry a bit and in it goes. If I'm treating a new chain/s (usually I buy two at a time) I use fresh wax, otherwise I just change the wax in the crock-pot at in the spring. Rewax/swap for a clean waxed chain when I start to hear squeakiness, which can be anywhere from around a month to less than a week (if I end up in the rain). Key for me is to have several chains/master links on standby. Then wax 2 or 3 at once.
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Old 05-13-22, 02:06 PM
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1. Wipe chain.
2. Immerse in melted wax. Edit: Swirl it around a few times using a big old flat blade screwdriver.
3. Pull out of melted wax 10 min later.
4. Put (back) on bike.

Last edited by Polaris OBark; 05-13-22 at 07:51 PM.
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Old 05-13-22, 02:43 PM
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Wow, I had no idea. It's a whole new branch of debate in the chain lube realm.

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Old 05-13-22, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by noobinsf
Wow, I had no idea. It's a while new branch of debate in the chain lube realm.
It is actually pretty old. I remember trying it and liking it back in the early '80's. What kept me from continuing is that it was not so easy to do back then. Wax has gained more a following lately because of refinements. Electric cookers, thinning with lamp oil and the ability to separate the chain without a rivet tool make the process easier. There are also liquid waxes available that make the process as easy as using oil.
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Old 05-13-22, 04:33 PM
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My melter was the lowest-cost crockpot type thing I could find the day I went shopping. Turns out it was a chocolate fondue pot from Walmart.

Looks exactly like a small crockpot. Works great!

Reminds me I will have to get set up soon now that the road riding has begun in earnest
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Old 05-13-22, 05:28 PM
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I have used a tuna fish can on an old laboratory hotplate. The can is a little small, but you roll the chain up real small too, and once the wax is hot, the chain slips below the surface. Hot plate means no open flame - seems pretty safe as long as you watch it, plus you can do it outdoors if you are paranoid. Worked great, and you can ride the sandy Cape Cod backroads without picking any grit up on your drivetrain. But man, it doesn't last long! I am rewaxing every 300 miles or sometimes even less. Which means you could not use it for Paris Brest Paris!! Stop to wax your chain in the middle?!

Related, I recently let my chain waxing lapse, and rode it about 60 miles squeaking like I was getting chased by a pack of angry gerbils. Damn chain wore right out! In 60 miles! It went from near zero to the full scale on my chain checker. Is that normal? Luckily I caught it and changed the chain before I'd also worn out the cassette.

ehcoplex good to know about beeswax and the silca lube. I am often wanting more adhesion. What do you think about putting in some of that fluorcarbon/teflon ski wax? I'd been using candles. No chain wear detected until I let it run out of wax and rode it those 60 miles...
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Old 05-13-22, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Velo Mule
I have a meat thermometer in the wax to monitor the temperature and try to remove it at about 200 degrees F.
Any reason why you want to remove it at 200degree?
I leave it in there at max temp (above 230 degree) for about half an hour. I want all the water or whatever else solvent to fully vaporize.
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Old 05-13-22, 06:34 PM
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Frank Berto, former West Coast editor of Bicycling magazine, wrote in 1988 that he heats the wax (paraffin) on his stove to 300 degrees. He says wax has a similar flash point as cooking oil, so take the same fire precautions you would when making French fries.

He says he waxes every 300 miles, which tracks what someone said above.

Last edited by smd4; 05-13-22 at 06:44 PM.
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Old 05-13-22, 06:43 PM
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Starting to sound like I should invest in a cheap saucepan and simply heat on the stove.
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Old 05-13-22, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by tiger1964
Starting to sound like I should invest in a cheap saucepan and simply heat on the stove.
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.
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Old 05-13-22, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by scarlson
ehcoplex good to know about beeswax and the silca lube. I am often wanting more adhesion. What do you think about putting in some of that fluorcarbon/teflon ski wax? I'd been using candles. No chain wear detected until I let it run out of wax and rode it those 60 miles...
I know there are some chain wax products that contain teflon (or the like), and some folks add it to their formula, but teflon is pretty nasty from an environmental perspective, so I don't use it. I can't remember where I read about adding beeswax to make it stickier, but as a sometime beekeeper it appealed to me- and seems to work. For sure, waxing isn't for everyone, but I find there's something kinda 'zen' about it. It's sort of like doing the laundry. And 'investing' in a rotating stock of chains makes it all more efficient.
I got a small bucket of 'pure' paraffin wax (it's in a kind of powdered form) and a bag of beeswax pellets from Amazon I think. I expect it'll last me a number of years.

But yeah, get caught in heavy rain and it'll start squeaking pretty quick. When that happens I either put some of the Silca stuff on the chain right after or swap the chain out. If I were going to do long distances in iffy weather I'd bring a bottle of the Silca lube with me.
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Old 05-13-22, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark
1. Wipe chain.
2. Immerse in melted wax.
3. Pull out of melted wax 10 min later.
4. Put (back) on bike.
I think there's a reasonable argument to be made for stirring the chain around while it's in the hot wax and leaving it in for a bit longer to be sure the wax gets into all the pins and rollers. I manually run the chain back and forth around a 1" pipe (actually part of my home-made bike repair stand...) to break up the initial stiffness before putting it back on the bike. Even then it's a little stiff for the first couple miles.
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Old 05-13-22, 07:46 PM
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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.
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Old 05-13-22, 07:50 PM
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I gave up on waxing my chains along with the "White Lightning" chain lube products back in the early 90's. I simply chewed up too many chains, rings and cassettes on my MTB. It just got too expensive trying to make it work! Just one man's opinion.
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Old 05-13-22, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by ehcoplex
I think there's a reasonable argument to be made for stirring the chain around while it's in the hot wax and leaving it in for a bit longer to be sure the wax gets into all the pins and rollers.
I do it, too. I forgot to list it.


I manually run the chain back and forth around a 1" pipe (actually part of my home-made bike repair stand...) to break up the initial stiffness before putting it back on the bike. Even then it's a little stiff for the first couple miles.
That's a great idea. Last time I waxed a chain, I put it in a bit of mineral spirits first, and then only very superficially wiped it off with a paper towel. Then waxed. The stiffness was gone, but the chain is still clean and quiet after about 150 miles.
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Old 05-13-22, 08:15 PM
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I used a double boiler where the bottom pan has water that heats up the top pan that has the wax. This is a safety feature if using a stove to melt the wax. I also like to leave the chain in the hot wax long enough so the metal in the chain is as hot as the wax. This way the excess melted wax has time to run off the chain and not solidify on a too cold chai.
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Old 05-13-22, 09:15 PM
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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.
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Old 05-13-22, 09:26 PM
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Teflon powder is also a good thing to avoid inhaling.

My little crockpot came as a daughter module with a normal crockpot from Costco. I bet a lot of people just donated those things to Good-will etc. They are too small for anything other than a bike chain.
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