When do you replace your container of chain wax?

I’m a couple of years in on chain waxing. I’m still on my first bag of silca hot wax. I have no idea how many times I’ve dunked chains into that wax. I always give them a good wipe first and do what I can to remove external contaminants. FWIW almost all of my miles are road miles.

It feels like that bag of wax is going to last me forever. Am I doing something wrong?

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iirc zero friction cycling tested this, contamination is minimal

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I was taught to boil them in water.

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Somewhere I saw the suggestion to periodically de-gunk your wax by pouring it into a paper coffee cup, letting it set, then cutting off the bottom ~1cm. Theory being that gunk and particulates will settle out and be removed.

Agreed that volume-wise, wax will last pretty much forever. I probably hot-wax 15-20 chains per year across multiple bikes (I use drip between hot waxings) and can’t imagine actually using it up. I usually replace it annually but not sure I really need to.

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If you are doing that with MSW or Silca wax, the issue is that the friction modifiers also settle at the bottom. That’s the tungsten disulfide, which is expensive.

If you’re using plain food grade paraffin, then this definitely makes sense.

Adam Kerin’s guideline was change the pot when you feel like the treatment lifespan has shortened drastically. I have been doing the combo of pot and drip wax for 3 years, and I don’t feel like the lifespan has declined. I’m about 3/4 of the way through my bag of Silca wax.

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I suppose the grit/contaminants are also “friction modifiers” (in the negative direction); depending how contaminated the wax is I imagine losing both could extend the wax’s utility. Do we know whether those additives actually do anything? I’m a long term MSW user; guessing someone has tested this vs. food grade paraffin…

Prepare to have your mind blown - Lubricant Testing - Zero Friction Cycling

I do a two pot system.

Each pot rotates at 30 waxings.

30 in pot two - pot two becomes pot one, and a fresh bag goes in to the other pot.

60 waxings per bag, contamination is minimal on the waxed chain.

Good question. I don’t know that all the testing is public right now. Friction Facts did some of this, I think. However, they got bought out by Ceramicspeed. Don’t confuse FF with Zero Friction Cycling; ZFC is independent. I don’t recall where I heard this, but if we are talking about the Friction Facts or Ceramicspeed chain friction test, the differences are probably minimal. Like 1W or less at 250W input.

Don’t forget that the chain friction test is run with a new chain thoroughly stripped of factory grease. If you tested that vs a modern wax for wear, there should be a bigger difference.

Kerin has not actually ran that comparison yet. He has the old MSW formulation, which is MoS2 and PTFE. He has the new MSW formulation, which is WS2. Same as Silca. He has a few other modern formulations. He also tested candle wax, but he made it sound like this was fairly high quality candle wax. Nevertheless, if you went and got good food grade paraffin, I bet it would test better than his candle wax sample.

Thanks, good link.

It does seem like hot waxing in candle wax works pretty well, and whether proper hot waxes are better than candle due to their particulate additives or because of a different wax mix is hard to know. Whatever, I’ll keep using MSW.

I also haven’t found any actual info on how much contamination hot wax can contain without compromising drivetrain longevity. The ZF “learnings” doc is really emphatic that after a wet/gritty ride the best way to revive a chain is hot wax, because this flushes contaminants out of the chain pin/plate interface. But those contaminants have to go somewhere, so it seems like at some point you’d lose effectiveness with this method as your wax gets dirty. Maybe the total actual contamination amount in a reasonably clean chain is so tiny that as long as you have decent total hot wax volume it’s irrelevant. The solution to pollution is dilution, as the old saying goes.

If it’s real dirty, perhaps use some boiling water first to melt away the old wax and contaminants, then hot wax as normal.

I’ve used the same wax for 2-3 years on average before switching it out and haven’t noticed any decrease in life between waxing. I also clean my chain with an ultrasonic cleaner and bathe it in denatured alcohol per the MSW guide prior to waxing each time though. Been doing it that way for 6 years now and haven’t seemed to have any contaminant issues.

IMO, if you enjoy the process, stick with it. Otherwise there’s probably more important things to be done.

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I wouldn’t say I enjoy it, per se, but I’ve been doing it long enough that I’ve gotten pretty efficient as far as the process, and it doesn’t bother me any more than other maintenance activities

As an in between from putting the dirty waxed chains in boiling water, before I rewax I give them a good wipe down with a baby wipe and then take boiling water from a kettle and pour it over the chain, like a boiling water rinse, that seems to strip a lot of stuff off. Others have described processes that would eliminate the amount of contamination in the wax even further but my crock pot of wax is about 18 months old now and I only used half the bag of silca wax, so if I can get >2 years out of ~$45 CAD worth of wax I would have no problem tossing it and starting fresh. Will likely add the other half the bag to the crock pot this winter.

I wax over 60 chains per year ridden in all conditions. If really gritty, they might get a shot of water, but 90+% of the time I just wipe and rewax. I use msw and I dump it and make a fresh pot when the wax isn’t deep enough to easily cover 2 chains in the cooker. I’d estimate that it takes about 2 years to get to that point, so 120+ chains.