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Immersive waxing / it should be more popular

Old 06-07-23, 04:13 PM
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msu2001la looks good! You can expect it to stay that way, it doesn't really build up from that initial coating of thin wax on the cogs.

The rough running upon first install of course happens because the rollers, spaces in-between, and outer plates can be excessively covered, making the chain very stiff, and it will usually be pushed out very quickly when riding under load and shifting a bit. I don't run it in at home since I always feel like my new chains are fine after the first hundred metres of riding it and shifting it through to loosen everything up. Peak performance starts after a few km ridden. Would be far more noticeable spinning it up on the stand without load. Pulling the chain out with the wax at max heat so most of it drips off and leaves the outside minimally coated is usually sufficient for me on MSW, I don't wipe it, but I suppose the SoSmellyAir method can work.

I keep repeating this hot pull method because some wax guides suggest pulling the chain from semi cooled wax to get an extra caking on the chain, which does no good in my experience.

Another thing you can do is to quickly run the chain through a microfibre cloth after the first ride, or between two toothbrushes taped together with heads facing each other whilst backpedalling, so you can remove most of the loose wax flakes that would have pushed out after the first ride. Not something I do anymore either.

I swap chains about once a week when washing the bike (best to wash it with the chain off for many reasons) rather than keeping track of distance, that's usually under 300km/200miles for me at the moment, sometimes only half that, but it doesn't matter as I have the next chain already lined up and don't mind swapping early.

My pre-wax chain prep:
- Clean conditions: Nothing, just take it off and throw it in.
- Dusty/dirty conditions: Wipe once with microfibre on or off the bike, throw in.
- Rain/mud/nasty: Quick boiling water bath, throw in.

If you want to get extra longevity out of your wax pot, there are a couple things you could do every 6 to 12 months or so:
- Drag a strong magnet on a string through the molten wax to attract chain shavings, these usually come out on new chains, not so much on broken in chains
- Let hot wax sit and cool to almost hard, then discard the bottom layer of the wax (scoop the top off to re-use while in the pot, or pop semi cooled wax puck out and scrape the bottom layer off). You may lose a bit of the friction modifiers on commercial waxes since they usually settle to the bottom along with contamination, so just top up with a little bit of new wax if needed.

Last edited by yaw; 06-07-23 at 04:17 PM.
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Old 06-07-23, 04:44 PM
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yaw After my waxed chain has cooled, I pull its full length around a round wooden broom handle before re-installation on the bike. Otherwise I don't think I would even be able to re-install it. Shifting is perfect right away. MSW is expensive, so no wiping to maximize the number of drops dripping back into the Crock Pot. On the other hand, I am presently using only Gulf Wax, so wiping off a bit is no big loss.
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Old 06-07-23, 04:57 PM
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msu2001la 's question:
I'm pretty sure I am an outlier. Or, maybe I'm unusually sensitive to drivetrain noise. Maybe it could be my "Normalized Power" is consistently 220-280 watts for just about any ride. Maybe I'm slipping in my cadence towards a 75-80 rpm "grind" as my raw torque is stronger than ever thanks to my single speed...Maybe any & all of these things. (Could be none, too.)

So take this as a single data point:
I usually first take note of chain noise at around 70 miles. By about 100 it definitely is time for a dip in the crockpot. The "rattle of pearls" is my own personal red line that must be heeded. Squeak is absolutely intolerable and constitutes negligence.

Last edited by base2; 06-07-23 at 05:03 PM.
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Old 06-07-23, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir
yaw After my waxed chain has cooled, I pull its full length around a round wooden broom handle before re-installation on the bike. Otherwise I don't think I would even be able to re-install it. Shifting is perfect right away. MSW is expensive, so no wiping to maximize the number of drops dripping back into the Crock Pot. On the other hand, I am presently using only Gulf Wax, so wiping off a bit is no big loss.
I break the links by hand still, somehow enjoy that process. Shifting is perfect right away too, in that it doesn't skip or miss or anything, but the side-to-side movement and clean chainring/cog engagement of the chain is still a bit impaired until it has run in a bit, so skipping in that sense. Not an issue for recreational riding but avid racers usually take their newly waxed race chains around the block once to loosen it all up to get the extra picosecond out.

I don't think these commercial waxes are that expensive given how long it all lasts, and less expensive than bike shop chain lubes. I originally purchased 4 MSW pucks (new formula), 2 of which (520g I think) went into the pot at the start to get a decent level of wax to submerge a couple chains at once without faff, and in one year I so far have added 1 additional puck to account for wax loss. I can't perceive any performance degradation of the wax base at all, but perhaps that's something that just creeps up too slowly, or just doesn't happen noticeably enough, particularly if a new puck gets added after a while. So I think these 4 pucks would easily last 2 years before I'll throw it all out for a fresh batch, and even that would be more based on curiosity to try another brand or new formula than necessity.

I just saw that MSW says less than 5g get deposited on the chain per waxing, so it would theoretically take 40,000-60,000km (25k-40k miles) of riding to use my 4 pucks up even when waxing every 200-300km (120-190 miles), disregarding that levels would at some stage be too low for immersion of course, but a good guide regarding added wax requirements. One extra puck every 50 waxes or so.

base2 levels of chain noise appear to be heavily dependent on the individual drive train, chainstay length, chain angle, and so forth. My chains are dead quiet for the first bit of a newly waxed ride, then the noise doesn't change at all until I (prematurely) re-wax anyway.

Edit: some clarifications/corrections

Last edited by yaw; 06-07-23 at 05:53 PM.
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Old 06-12-23, 09:31 AM
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Well I drank the koolaid and joined the hot wax club. I did get a bit OCD in cleaning my bike so it looks great! First full ride last night and it was beautiful, silky and quiet. I understand the concept of making changes one at a time so you can accurately evaluate the results but sadly I never seem to do that. I also put on new tires and tubes. I kept the old tires on until I was completely done with the indoor trainer. I was going back and forth for a while depending on weather. I went with the GP5000 and latex tubes so I think that improved the ride as well. Either way, so far so good.
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Old 06-12-23, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by base2
msu2001la 's question:
I'm pretty sure I am an outlier. Or, maybe I'm unusually sensitive to drivetrain noise. Maybe it could be my "Normalized Power" is consistently 220-280 watts for just about any ride. Maybe I'm slipping in my cadence towards a 75-80 rpm "grind" as my raw torque is stronger than ever thanks to my single speed...Maybe any & all of these things. (Could be none, too.)

So take this as a single data point:
I usually first take note of chain noise at around 70 miles. By about 100 it definitely is time for a dip in the crockpot. The "rattle of pearls" is my own personal red line that must be heeded. Squeak is absolutely intolerable and constitutes negligence.
I've sometimes felt the need to swap for a freshly waxed chain in under 100 miles for the same reasons.

I'm curious what you new chain pre-wax prep regimen is like? Also I am wondering what brand of chain you are running. I have some chains that seem to get noisy faster and some that do develop more of a low level noise where it appears to still have adequate wax on it so I run it for longer. Also I am curious about the new Silca product they are marketing as a chain oil stripper. It is expensive but if it works as claimed it might be worth it. I like that it can be rinsed with water and they say it leaves a film on the cleaned chain that makes it ready to accept wax better.
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Old 06-12-23, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by masi61
I've sometimes felt the need to swap for a freshly waxed chain in under 100 miles for the same reasons.

I'm curious what you new chain pre-wax prep regimen is like? Also I am wondering what brand of chain you are running. I have some chains that seem to get noisy faster and some that do develop more of a low level noise where it appears to still have adequate wax on it so I run it for longer.
I follow the 3 stage odorized mineral spirit immersion & subsequent denatured alcohol rinse procedure detailed in the test methods section of the Zero Friction Cycling experiment procedure write up.

I understand that it is a bit over the top for reasons of creating a robust repeatable experiment with valid results. But, nothing succeeds like excess so I do it anyway. It's so rarely it must be done there is no reason not to do it right the first time.

I'm on all Wipperman SX chains with Connex links now except for an Ultegra 11 speed chain that stubbornly will not wear past 0.4%
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Old 06-12-23, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by RJC1811
Well I drank the koolaid and joined the hot wax club. I did get a bit OCD in cleaning my bike so it looks great! First full ride last night and it was beautiful, silky and quiet.
Nice! Keen to hear further thoughts as you go through a few re-waxes and get used to the process. Once you get the exact same perfectly reset chain after the next dip with no cleaning hassle, there is surely no way back


base2 masi61 do you have short chainstays or ride with extreme chain angles? The insides of the chain would definitely still be lubricated after that distance, but on bikes with more extreme angles, the noise dampening wax layers elsewhere may be mostly gone at that stage. I heard some have success topping up with a drip wax like Silca's (not Squirt) that is water emulsified and has the same kind of wax formula as the immersion waxes, as it quietens the chain back down. I am not doing that myself so I don't know how long that lasts.

One way to test whether it's the angle is of course by riding the chain perfectly straight to check sound levels. All my drivetrain noise usually comes from the inevitable angles on my geometry. I would only worry about a chain that is getting consistently loud, even in a straight line, indicating increased wear. I prefer the sound of a run in dry wax chain over a chain that is silenced by sludge that grinds away at the metal at the same time.

I am alternating dura ace and YBN, so I'll try to listen out for differences in noise here also. I haven't been concerned with this, but no chain stood out above the other despite feeling very different in hand.
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Old 06-12-23, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by yaw
Nice! Keen to hear further thoughts as you go through a few re-waxes and get used to the process. Once you get the exact same perfectly reset chain after the next dip with no cleaning hassle, there is surely no way back


base2 masi61 do you have short chainstays or ride with extreme chain angles? The insides of the chain would definitely still be lubricated after that distance, but on bikes with more extreme angles, the noise dampening wax layers elsewhere may be mostly gone at that stage. I heard some have success topping up with a drip wax like Silca's (not Squirt) that is water emulsified and has the same kind of wax formula as the immersion waxes, as it quietens the chain back down. I am not doing that myself so I don't know how long that lasts.

One way to test whether it's the angle is of course by riding the chain perfectly straight to check sound levels. All my drivetrain noise usually comes from the inevitable angles on my geometry. I would only worry about a chain that is getting consistently loud, even in a straight line, indicating increased wear. I prefer the sound of a run in dry wax chain over a chain that is silenced by sludge that grinds away at the metal at the same time.

I am alternating dura ace and YBN, so I'll try to listen out for differences in noise here also. I haven't been concerned with this, but no chain stood out above the other despite feeling very different in hand.
The drip wax being added after a few rides helps, only if you apply it & give it a few hours to dry.
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Old 06-12-23, 11:32 PM
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Here’s the method I use:

Immersive Chain Waxing for Gravel in Under Five Minutes
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Old 06-13-23, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Symox
Here’s the method I use:

Immersive Chain Waxing for Gravel in Under Five Minutes
https://youtu.be/XazcuF0hasA
This is pretty much exactly what I do. I even use the same crockpot lol
I just dont understand where does the hot water come in "after the first waxing"? Does any one know about this?
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Old 06-13-23, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by crazyravr
This is pretty much exactly what I do. I even use the same crockpot lol
I just dont understand where does the hot water come in "after the first waxing"? Does any one know about this?
It is used for general cleaning to remove any bits of whatever may have adhered its self to the chain before the wax dip. Mud and whatnot from a grimy gravel ride will come off in the crockpot but there's no real good reason to contaminate the crockpot with it unnecessarily.

A toothbrush will do much the same thing.
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Old 06-14-23, 02:26 AM
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Pouring boiling water over the cassette does not seem like a good idea given what else that could hit.
Best to do that boiling water rinse off the bike if riding conditions call for it.
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Old 06-14-23, 06:27 AM
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Originally Posted by crazyravr
This is pretty much exactly what I do. I even use the same crockpot lol
I just dont understand where does the hot water come in "after the first waxing"? Does any one know about this?
Hot water is used to rinse and clean the chain between after the first waxing and between re-wax. Waxed chains don't require a degreaser or other chemical product to clean them.

Not sure I'd pour boiling water directly on the cassette when installed to the wheel though. I usually just remove it to clean it properly.

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Old 06-14-23, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by base2
It is used for general cleaning to remove any bits of whatever may have adhered its self to the chain before the wax dip. Mud and whatnot from a grimy gravel ride will come off in the crockpot but there's no real good reason to contaminate the crockpot with it unnecessarily.

A toothbrush will do much the same thing.
I'd say one reason to skip the boiling water step (and thus contaminate the pot) is b/c I'm too lazy to clean the chain between waxing. The pot accumulates some settled junk at the bottom, sure. But, my chain is still waxed and "clean" relative to wet lube, in that I can handle the drivetrain with my bare hands without them getting grimy.

My methods are a lot lighter than what many of you guys are doing.
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Old 06-14-23, 08:05 AM
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Don't see why there would be water contamination if you let the chain dry completely before dipping it in the pot. When you mop the floor, you don't immediately put back the dining table chair and other things on the floor

Putting a basket inside the crockpot or something else to prevent the chain from touching the bottom of the pot where the crap is, is a very good idea.
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Old 06-14-23, 11:07 AM
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If the cassette has been used & isn't aluminum, the cogs may bleed rust.
I'd just take it off the hub then do the hot cleaning following up withup compressor to blow dry it really well.
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Old 06-14-23, 11:35 AM
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Ahhhh ok. I just take it off when it needs to go for a dip and submerge into hot soapy water, scrub and rinse out. Dry with paper towel and dip.
No way would I pour boiling water on the bike. You might be cleaning your chain but killing other more expensive things.
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Old 06-14-23, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by eduskator
Putting a basket inside the crockpot or something else to prevent the chain from touching the bottom of the pot where the crap is, is a very good idea.
Putting a little metal grate or basket or whatever spacer on the bottom works well for people using plain wax, but for those who go with commercial blends, a bit of agitation of the wax is always needed to get the friction modifiers into suspension, which will inevitably whirl up some of that contamination.

I am glad the consensus is that pouring boiling water over your cassette like in that video is a terrible idea. With the luxury of taking chains off so easily with a quick link, any chain prep can happen off the bike, and any bike cleaning can happen without chain installed.
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Old 06-15-23, 06:16 AM
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Originally Posted by yaw
Putting a little metal grate or basket or whatever spacer on the bottom works well for people using plain wax, but for those who go with commercial blends, a bit of agitation of the wax is always needed to get the friction modifiers into suspension, which will inevitably whirl up some of that contamination.

I am glad the consensus is that pouring boiling water over your cassette like in that video is a terrible idea. With the luxury of taking chains off so easily with a quick link, any chain prep can happen off the bike, and any bike cleaning can happen without chain installed.
I agree. Quick links are the way to go and they don't fail. Plus, a waxed chain shouldn't get the cassette dirty since it does not attract dirt or grime like regular lube does.

When I need to clean my cassette that's installed, I rub the side of a microfiber clothe from up to down between each cog and I take a mini flat head screw driver to remove any solid piece of grime that would be stuck between the smaller cogs. It does the job very well. No need to pour any fluid, hot or cold, on it.
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Old 06-15-23, 06:43 AM
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Dumping a wet chain into hot wax isn't a great solution. It either takes a fair bit of time for it to boil off or it will crackle and sputter, depending on temperature. Just wipe the chain and dump it in the wax, ignoring contaminating the wax or "wash" the chain in one saucepan with cheap paraffin wax and rewax it in an other with your favourite commercial blend. This assumes foregoing crockpots or other methods that take forever to reach temperature. Just use two saucepans on a stove. Its no more dangerous than frying an egg and is MUCH, MUCH faster.

Or only wax brand new chains, without precleaning and dripwax later. Works great and saves 95% of the faff. Imo convoluted precleaning schemes in all sorts of solvents and potions is HIGHLY overrated and not needed at all. Just dump it in, swish it for a minute and the hot wax will dilute the factory lube to nonsignificant levels. (they are all hydrocarbons that readily mix and dissolve into each other)
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Old 06-15-23, 08:01 AM
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Not in agreement with this. General consensus is that they need to be completely sterilized before being dipped to avoid unnecessary contamination. Factory lubricant is crap.

Wax or not, I dip mine in fuel overnight, then in rubbing alcohol, then rinse it under hot water and I let it dry for 24h. I guess we all have our own process.
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Old 06-15-23, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by eduskator
Not in agreement with this. General consensus is that they need to be completely sterilized before being dipped to avoid unnecessary contamination. Factory lubricant is crap.


Wax or not, I dip mine in fuel overnight, then in rubbing alcohol, then rinse it under hot water and I let it dry for 24h. I guess we all have our own process.

Thats fine :-) Imo, "general consensus" on the internet is usually nothing more than than everybody repeating some random "truth" of dubious origin, without thinking or testing.


- For instance rubbing alcohol is denatured ethanol or isopropyl alcohol and will, according to testing with locally available brands, leave a film of unspecified substance. Likely the denaturing agent. Ie, not "sterilized". Just try evaporate a pool on a sheet of rigorously cleaned glass and see for yourself.


oh!, and soon, everybody will claim only "Silca special bike chain cleaner" is "good enough" because Josh (they all think he is their personal fiend or something) told them their new, magic, super secret, super expensive, bike specific, chain cleaner will leave a film(!) of secret composition that makes wax adhere BETTER ...


sure! ... haha!
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Old 06-15-23, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan
chain cleaner will leave a film(!) of secret composition that makes wax adhere BETTER .
That's indeed a strange thing.

Otherwise I do agree with the complete chain strip prior to waxing approach. One should look out for 100% isopropyl without any additives, so it really evaporates without residue. I have no data on how well throwing a factory coated chain into wax really works, maybe that is worth trying with cheap bland wax, but I see no good reason to throw a greasy chain into my MSW pot.

I'll mention again that it should be possible for most to source pre-waxed chains to avoid the faff if that is a hurdle, you have to pay for it of course. I did both in the past with equal long-term results.

The two-pot method is a great way to keep the second wax pot very clean without any worry about pre-cleaning the chain, and then at some stage ditch the old wax, make the previously clean wax the dirty pot, and throw new wax into the other. It's like running multiple chains - you are going to go through them anyway, so may as well double them up now and run in parallel.

I would do that double pot thing if I wasn't living in a great climate and riding in year round clean conditions.
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Old 06-16-23, 04:59 AM
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"I see no good reason to throw a greasy chain into my MSW pot."

I bet you a dollar the amount of grease/oil on a new chain is in the order one or two grams*. Absolutely insignificant diluting it in a pound of wax.

I bet you another dollar that you or anyone else auto-rejecting the idea of simply waxing a new chain without prep didn't try or have any real idea why you are rejecting the idea in the first place. In my testing there is no detectable difference if I swish and "wash" the new chain in the molten wax. Not surprisingly I might add. As stated before they are all hydrocarbons that readily mix and dissolve into each other.
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