Chain Waxing

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  • The only way to maintain optimal chain lubrication, surely:­html

  • I've been waxing my chains for years on my road/CX/mountain bikes. Big fan.. and it's weirdly therapeutic.

    My technique is:

    • Soak new chain in neat TFR to remove the standard lube.
    • Use slow cooker to melt the wax (four parts paraffin, one part beeswax, one good squeeze of PTFE lube).
    • Dunk chain in the molten wax, swish it around a bit, and leave it for a couple of minutes.
    • Remove chain and let it hang above the slow cooker so the drips return to the wax. Make sure you re-insert the quicklinks asap before the wax dries and fills the holes.
    • Once the wax is dry, 'flex'(?) the chain to remove the hardened outer wax.

    Once the chain needs re-doing, soak it in boiling water to remove the grime sitting on the wax, along with the old wax, before dunking in the fresh molten wax.

    Buy the wax in bulk on eBay - I use beeswax because it seems to be slightly less brittle than pure paraffin, so seems to last longer.

    If you can't find a slow cooker, I've used an empty 400g tuna can on a kitchen stove with equal success (if not way more risk).

  • Theres a solid following of advocates of Putoline over on singletrackworld­e-Chain-Wax/dp/B003K8NG1O

    Think some of them use a fryer rather than a slow cooker or you can just stick the whole tin on the hob/ camp stove

  • Yeah, the plan would be to clean the fuck out of a chain or two and then wax them, properly with MSW or something. GCN used a bulk bag of paraffin wax off amazon or something so I guess that works. There's also the original Friction Facts recipe out there but that involves more chemicals so I'd probably test the simplest version first.

    Also, MSW instructions reckon you can just dump training chains in the wax. Presumably they are talking about chains that have already been degreased and waxed once rather than new chains covered in packing grease.

  • That's in the right price range. Ta.

  • Yeah, but none of the drip stuff is as good as a wax bath. I figured I'd just go all out. Mind you, I have an unused bottle of UFO Drip sitting here I could at least try out on the turbo bike.

  • use their parts cleaner

    Not sure if they have one. I'll ask.
    I've seen other people just doing multiple degreaser shakes - will that be enough? I'd quite like the ultrasonic cleaner anyway as I have a million chains/cassettes I'm constantly cleaning.

    just put a bit of mesh at the bottom of your crock pot to keep the grit away from the clean wax.


    I love it because it stays clean, reduces wear on components

    This is why I want to do it.

  • Yeah the ultrasonic cleaner is pretty handy. But there's really no need to put your chains through it once waxed - just give it a quick wipe down between applications and the hot wax will do the rest.

    I find with wax it's much easier to clean cassettes. I just run them under a bit of warm water and scrub lightly with a brush, takes all of 2 minutes for a sparkling clean cassette.

    Going by your motivation behind waxing I think you'll be very satisfied with the results. It's actually also a huge time saving - if you do multiple chains at once you only need to bring out the slow cooker with wax once a month.

  • All seems covered. I tend to do multiple sonic baths until it’s super clean. It’s not exactly a fuss, just have to get off my arse and press a button every five minutes. Using a cleaner with heater helps melt the old wax out.

    Once ready to dip in wax I heat the chain in the oven for 10 mins, if you’ve not got all the old wax off it can get a bit smokey. The multiple baths help with this.

    I use the formula that’s all over the internets, paraffin wax with PTFE powder and molybdenum disulfide. Wax is heated in a pot via a wax heater normally used by beauty therapists for your monthly back sack and crack.

    Five mins, then give the chain a shake then five more. Switch the heater off and leave the chain in situ for 5-10 mins depending on ambient conditions. Otherwise all that wax will just pour out of every crevice. That bit sounds daft, but I have noticed that it does make a difference with the longevity.

    Bit of dry lube on the quick links and jobs a good’un.

    Did the chain on my Brompton this weekend for the first time since about May, probably 900 miles use.

  • tl;dr use wax, bro

  • My LBS has an ultrasonic cleaner - I've just asked how big it is and how many chains I could do at once. If I could do all my chains in a big batch it'd save a lot of fucking around.
    Space is at a premium in our dog box little London place so I'm loathe to buy more bike shit but I'm sick of working on grotty chains.

  • Pass. Will it get hot enough?

    This is similar to what I use. Does take about 90 mins to melt the wax tho.­eater-500cc

    I got an ultrasound cleaner from Maplins before they went kaput. Can't see anything on their online site. Think I paid about £60.

    No more grotty chains with wax! They're not perfect tho after a wet commute, a rub down and some dry lube can sort it. The chain too.

  • Pass. Will it get hot enough?

    The slow cooker? Dunno but it's 120W and the one GCN used was a Russell Hobs rated at 90W

    wet commute

    I'm moving to Spain. ;)

  • Aldi have ultrasonic cleaners a few times a year if you dont mind waiting

  • Back in the day people dipped their chain in petrol before waxing, no? It would require safe disposal afterwards but apparently it's incredibly effective.

  • Yeah, I spent years using dangerous chemicals to clean chains and stuff. I'm sure it didn't damage my forming brain at all... CABBAGES!

  • Wow, just got a couple of old chains back from Dave at Woolseys after being run through their ultrasonic cleaner. They look brand new! It's so nice to be able to handle a chain without getting covered in grease or road grime.

    Even if I don't stick with chain waxing I want an ultrasonic cleaner.

  • @broken_777 uses one for his hub services I think, might be worth asking which one he has.

  • The one Woolseys used was something similar to this:

  • I've been thinking about this but not sure if it's worth the outlay, ultrasonic cleaner, wax heater, and a bunch of extra chains so I can do big batches is quite a sum compared to old rags and the occasional bottle of lube. Non grimy greasy chains are a very convincing argument though.

  • I already have loads of chains in various states so that's not an issue. Ultrasonic cleaners are pretty cheap for me and if they're not for you, you could do what I've just done and take chains to an LBS with one? Wax heater is also very cheap (£10). You will need degreaser too and optionally some zip locks to save said degreaser.

    The cleaning is unattended which is what I like - no standing outside in the cold with an old t-shirt, no dropping crap on the carpet if it's raining outside, no elbow grease required and it produces a MUCH better result.

  • The ultrasonic cleaner is only necessary when you get a new chain? Might get this, not too fussed about cleaning cassettes with it and it should fit 2 chains.­729.html

    Where do you get the wax heater from, the cheap ones are too small no?­687.html

    I would probably still have the stuff in the shed, don't think my better half would enjoy the mess this will invariably become in our kitchen / on our dining table.

  • Based on what I've read from a variety of sources, this is how I treat my chains to wax them from new:

    1. Run in the chain on a turbo trainer - a few hours' use is enough.
    2. Remove chain, put in jar of white spirit, jiggle about, leave to soak.
    3. Clean chain with kitchen towel, running the chain through some folded up towel looking for dark stains where the packing grease is coming off.
    4. Repeat rinse in white spririt until no more grease comes off and the kitchen towel is clean.
    5. Rinse chain in a jar of meths, leave to dry.
    6. Stick chain in ultrasonic cleaner with warm degreaser for the final clean.
    7. Rinse with boiling water and leave to dry.
    8. Put chain in slow cooker full of molten paraffin wax with some molybdenum disulphide and PTFE powder - the proportions don't need to be exact but I think I used the SpeedWax formula.
    9. Hoik out chain, leave wax to dry, loosen all the links one at a time.

    It's a right old faff, but not too bad if you do it in batches. I only use it for the chains on my TT bikes though. For everything else I just use whatever is to hand, except winter bikes and MTBs which get Chain-L.

    In terms of kit I've got a generic 3 litre ultrasonic cleaner off eBay - very useful for cleaning stuff generally - and a 6 litre slow cooker my father gave me for Christmas - they're basically all the same and you don't need anything too fancy.

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Chain Waxing

Posted by Avatar for hippy @hippy