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US-Based Teflon PTFE Powder for Mixing with Paraffin - Runway Stands Alone as of Now

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US-Based Teflon PTFE Powder for Mixing with Paraffin - Runway Stands Alone as of Now

Old 10-12-20, 08:33 AM
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danallen
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US-Based Teflon PTFE Powder for Mixing with Paraffin - Runway Stands Alone as of Now

I am not affiliated or involved in any business related to cycling or anything that can be construed as relevant to this post. I am just a nerdy tech kind of person with some information, some beliefs. If it is right, then it is valuable. If it is wrong, or requires any level of context or correction, that is what this thread is for. I am not trying to prove anything. I am trying to find the truth best for my chain and power train on the bike I love.

I am sure people have all sorts of preferences, but if you are looking for the least friction possible that last for more than a handful of miles, you cannot do better than paraffin plus teflon (ptfe) powder. I am basing this on the years of research reported by Oz Cycling's YouTube videos, combined with what I can discern from https://zerofrictioncycling.com.au/. I have seen discussion of these sources here on BikeForums, but what I have not seen is discussion of Oz's Claim: is it true or false? Another thing I have not seen is a clear statement on where in the United States the right kind of teflon powder is available.


Oz says ten parts paraffin plus one part ptfe powder is the ultimate lube, and makes the case it is the best bar none. TRUE?


He says the teflon powder will clump together if the particles are too big, and says 1.6 microns works perfectly. Unfortunately, he does not say whether 1.7 microns is too big or whether all the particles have to be 1.6 microns or whether a mix of particle sizes averaging to 1.6 is what he is talking about. I suspect the case is he obtained some ptfe powder sold as 1.6 micron particle size, because that is a size that happens to be available. Sooooooooooooooooooooooo,


I have looked into this and discovered exactly zero US-based suppliers of "1.6 micron teflon powder". HOWEVER, I found that US-based Runaway Bike provides teflon powder that works perfectly. Here is the explanation from their website:


We had a recent customer claim that our product was between 2 and 3 microns in size. We are comfortable with that nice round estimate, but you should know that it's not quite so straightforward. A large percentage of our particles are actually less than 1.5 microns in size. The mean particle size is probably somewhere in-between.

I have everything in hand to start running paraffin plus teflon per Oz's recommendations. I will let you know what I learn from it.

The main reasons I am going for this:
  • Extends life of chain from 1k-2k miles to 9k miles.
  • Extends life of cogs and crankset to 27,000 miles
  • Transforms the grunge factory that is my chain with normal lube to sparking clean all the time.

Last edited by danallen; 10-12-20 at 08:47 AM.
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Old 10-12-20, 09:58 AM
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PTFE does not break down, and so will continue to accumulate in the environment forever- it's in your blood.

Consider whether spreading it around in your chain wax is a good idea.

At 570˚ + it gives off very toxic fumes, so don't burn or overheat that wax.
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Old 10-12-20, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by danallen View Post
  • Extends life of chain from 1k-2k miles to 9k miles.

Your chain only lasts 1000 miles?
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Old 10-12-20, 10:30 AM
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I'm no expert on chain wax or lube but I do work in an industry that uses a lot of high tech plastics including teflon; mostly PFA and PTFE. The one thing that bothers me about using teflon for any application involving moving parts is that the material is really soft and abrades very easily. In my industry we call it the plastic we love to hate because it's fantastic for it's purity, resistance to high temperatures, and being virtually non-reactive with all the nasty chemicals we use but it's also a pain to machine to tight tolerances, has a very high thermal expansion factor, and just generally has horrid mechanical properties. We would never use it in an application where it was required to constantly rub against something. Perhaps it's different when you're dealing with particles.

I think a better material would be UHMWPE (Ultra high molecular weight polyethylene). Like teflon, it's really slick but it's considerably harder and less likely to break down. If you look at a assembly line conveyer and see guides where the conveyer changes direction, those are likely made of UHMW. It's also way less expensive.
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Old 10-12-20, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by vespasianus View Post

Your chain only lasts 1000 miles?
My last chain was dead at 2,000 miles. LBS says he changes his chain about every month. Maybe that is to promote chains, I don't know. Shelby Brown did a nice job explaining the religion of chain maintenance, emphasizing a wide range of lifespans.

What would you say is a valid life expectancy for chains?
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Old 10-12-20, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post
PTFE does not break down, and so will continue to accumulate in the environment forever- it's in your blood.


Consider whether spreading it around in your chain wax is a good idea.


At 570˚ + it gives off very toxic fumes, so don't burn or overheat that wax.
I had not considered the environmental impact.


What is the amount of waste put into the environment by a bicycle compared to a home furnace, air conditioner, automobile for home computer? We have a lot of substances in our bodies from the environment. Teflon is inert unless it is heated to over 500 degrees.


What lubrication is better for the environment? How big is the impact?


I am going to evaluate this seriously. Thank you for bringing it up.
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Old 10-12-20, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by danallen View Post
My last chain was dead at 2,000 miles. LBS says he changes his chain about every month. Maybe that is to promote chains, I don't know. Shelby Brown did a nice job explaining the religion of chain maintenance, emphasizing a wide range of lifespans.

What would you say is a valid life expectancy for chains?
LBS might be yanking your chain.
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Old 10-12-20, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Ogsarg View Post
I'm no expert on chain wax or lube but I do work in an industry that uses a lot of high tech plastics including teflon; mostly PFA and PTFE. The one thing that bothers me about using teflon for any application involving moving parts is that the material is really soft and abrades very easily. In my industry we call it the plastic we love to hate because it's fantastic for it's purity, resistance to high temperatures, and being virtually non-reactive with all the nasty chemicals we use but it's also a pain to machine to tight tolerances, has a very high thermal expansion factor, and just generally has horrid mechanical properties. We would never use it in an application where it was required to constantly rub against something. Perhaps it's different when you're dealing with particles.

I think a better material would be UHMWPE (Ultra high molecular weight polyethylene). Like teflon, it's really slick but it's considerably harder and less likely to break down. If you look at a assembly line conveyer and see guides where the conveyer changes direction, those are likely made of UHMW. It's also way less expensive.
Wow, this is some seriously great information and comment. Thank you. Is there a most likely manner of applying UHMWPE? Would it have to be done in a factory? Can it be melted or dissovled in order to apply it? I am picturing UHMWPE bushing inside chain rollers.
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Old 10-12-20, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by znomit View Post
LBS might be yanking your chain.
How many miles do you get out of chains?


When I got 2,000 miles out of a chain, I was oiling that chain all the time. I guess it needed more frequent cleaning, but the cleaning seems like no match for the amount of black crud that gets into the chain immediately. I was using sythetic motor oil (10%) mixed with mineral spirits (90%). Before that, I used dry lube, but it still got nasty black on any use whatsoever. Was I doing something wrong?
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Old 10-12-20, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by danallen View Post
My last chain was dead at 2,000 miles. LBS says he changes his chain about every month. Maybe that is to promote chains, I don't know. Shelby Brown did a nice job explaining the religion of chain maintenance, emphasizing a wide range of lifespans.

What would you say is a valid life expectancy for chains?
I have run a single chain on a road bike for over 20,000 miles without much of an issue. Now, if the chain had an issue, I most likely would have needed a new cassette and rings but I have never had a road bike chain break in over 30 years.
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Old 10-12-20, 03:02 PM
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I was interested in this until I saw the post about the environmental factors. I'll pass.

More to the point -- you should easily get 5-10,000 miles out of your chain if you keep everything clean and lubed. If not, you are either not maintaining it properly, using low quality chains, have something else dramatically wrong with your drivetrain, or -- most likely -- are replacing perfectly good chains for no reason.
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Old 10-12-20, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by danallen View Post
I was using sythetic motor oil (10%) mixed with mineral spirits (90%). Before that, I used dry lube, but it still got nasty black on any use whatsoever. Was I doing something wrong?
I'd​​​​​ say so. I'd consider the viscosity of motor oil to be about right; IMO the mineral spirits wouldn't have been helping.

And motor oil contains detergents, which are emulsifiers. It's not meant for an external application exposed to the weather. I'd you're gonna pick some random lube that isn't specifically formulated for bike chains, how about gear oil or chainsaw oil.
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Old 10-12-20, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
I'd​​​​​ say so. I'd consider the viscosity of motor oil to be about right; IMO the mineral spirits wouldn't have been helping.
The mineral spirits is to lower the viscosity of the mixture for application, allowing the motor oil to penetrate better and to reduce the amount of oil left behind. The mineral spirits evaporates leaving a thinner coating of oil than if straight oil were used. I've been using this method for years and have found it to be clean and long lasting. Independent tests have shown this method to be among the best performers for friction at a fraction of the cost of similar performing lubes.
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Old 10-12-20, 04:02 PM
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Okay, fair enough. But motor oil is widely regarded as a poor choice.
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Old 10-12-20, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
Okay, fair enough. But motor oil is widely regarded as a poor choice.
Not by the people I respect.
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Old 10-12-20, 04:03 PM
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I started using squirt recently and it is biodegradable. works great and keeps my drive train nice and clean. As I live in the southeast rain can be an issue, so I just clean out the gook that might get picked up and then re-apply. Otherwise I reapply as needed, generally 150 to 200 miles has been my experience.
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Old 10-12-20, 04:10 PM
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NACT - Not another chain thread was an expression that i used to use around here.

I still love how even now so many weird assertions and near religious beliefs people can throw around about chains.

OP - PTFE is nasty stuff. Does a great job but.... Let me put it this way: at some point I am sure I will have to pay some sort of exorbitant fee to have all of the compounds in my business that contain PTFE removed as hazardous waste. It can build up in the body over time as well. That said - chain lube - knock yourself out.

Chains:
  • Mileage on a chain is so specific to a rider it's a near meaningless number outside of comparisons to a particular rider's other chains
  • Too many other factors can impact chain life outside of lubricant
  • Maintenance or cleaning and reapplication of lubricant to a chain can have a much larger impact on wear of the chain than any single lubricant will.
  • Too many people use an elongation measurement or wear of rollers measurement as their only indication of when a chain has worn out. I am finding more and more modern drivetrains are having poor performance when the chain being used develops a lot of lateral flex even when the overall roller wear or elongation is still well within acceptable limits.
  • Chains are cheap. Swap your chain. I have lost track of the number of times that a simple chain swap has been the permanent solution to a myriad of afflictions bothering a rider.
  • Chains are cheap part 2 - Tom Ritchey said it at one point and forgive me if I don't quote it perfectly as I can't find the original quote but when asked about his chain maintenance routine he said he simply puts lube on it and then replaces it when it needs to be replaced. "Life is too short to spend it cleaning chains".
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Old 10-12-20, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by danallen View Post
Wow, this is some seriously great information and comment. Thank you. Is there a most likely manner of applying UHMWPE? Would it have to be done in a factory? Can it be melted or dissovled in order to apply it? I am picturing UHMWPE bushing inside chain rollers.
I think to make a bushing, you'd have to machine it, which would likely make it impractical. I believe large pieces are near-shape molded and then machined to exact spec. I think you can get powder also.

In regards to the environment and your health goes, I would not worry one bit about ingesting it or it building up in your body. There is nothing in your body that can break it down. You can put it in full strength sulfuric acid for years and it wont be effected. Inhaling a powder may be an issue in terms of it being an irritant but it's not going to poison you.

Heating it is another issue though as it will give off poisonous fumes. We weld PFA at my company and it has to be done in an enclosed fume hood and the operators wear masks that feed them fresh air. Keep in mind though that the melting point of PTFE is over 600F so not easy to do that at home and why they suggest not leaving a teflon coated pan on the stove with the burner on and nothing in it.

If not heated excessively, it's probably a lot less damaging to the environment than most plastics.
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Old 10-12-20, 04:48 PM
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Teflon is extremely toxic to birds.
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Old 10-12-20, 04:57 PM
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Have you tried snake oil? From USA snakes, not those inferior Australian snakes, of course.
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Old 10-12-20, 05:07 PM
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I don’t clean chains. I did it for years and consider it a dirty job, capital waste of time and effort, and an unjustified use of toxic materials. Maybe my chains don’t last as long now, but it’s not an obvious effect and I haven’t seen any objective evidence that any cleaning regimen prolongs chain life.

I have three bikes with 430, 415, and 405 mm chain stays, respectively. If I only had the bike with the 430 mm length, I’d think chains lasted a long time.
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Old 10-12-20, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
Teflon is extremely toxic to birds.
Only an issue due to inhalation of fumes from teflon that is heated to a very high temp, which is really bad for any living thing.
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Old 10-12-20, 07:06 PM
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Mixing PTFE into Paraffin wax is NOT a new idea. When I first started racing in 1976 we use to take Slick 50, which back in those days used US-based original Dupont brand Teflon PTFE, and mix that into the melted paraffin wax. Dupont sold off the Slick 50 to some other company, when that happened Dupont pulled the licensing rights from them to prevent them from using Dupont Teflon so another Teflon was used that wasn't near as good as the Dupont brand. My understanding is the reason Dupont sold off Slick 50 was that they discovered that the Teflon particles were ruining turbos, but I could be wrong in the reason, but I think I recall that was the issue. Anyway, the original formulated Slick 50 did seem to work better when blended into melted wax then just plain wax by itself.
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Old 10-12-20, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post
PTFE does not break down, and so will continue to accumulate in the environment forever- it's in your blood.

Consider whether spreading it around in your chain wax is a good idea.

At 570˚ + it gives off very toxic fumes, so don't burn or overheat that wax.
I agree with the first point, but Molten speedwax and tons of dry lubes are teflon based. Do those all have the environmental problems you speak of?

second point... I think the paraffin flash point is around 400F. So youd have bigger issues at 570F.
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Old 10-12-20, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha View Post
I dont clean chains. I did it for years and consider it a dirty job, capital waste of time and effort, and an unjustified use of toxic materials. Maybe my chains dont last as long now, but its not an obvious effect and I havent seen any objective evidence that any cleaning regimen prolongs chain life.

I have three bikes with 430, 415, and 405 mm chain stays, respectively. If I only had the bike with the 430 mm length, Id think chains lasted a long time.
I just use a Park Cyclone chain cleaning gizmo and some Pedro's biodegradable degreaser. It takes a few minutes and is super easy. I'm hoping the bio degreaser is, in fact, not toxic. Somebody please tell me if I should stop using it. I doubt my regimen prolongs chain life, but a clean/lubed drivetrain works better.
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