I'm stocking tubes that I found in discount. One of my friends said that tubes get old over time. Do Butyl tubes do this? If it is true, what are storage tips for stocking them? And they came packed with a powder-like solution, how does this work?

  • 4
    If you keep inner tubes cool, dry, and reasonably well protected from sun, ozone, and chemical vapors, they will last 20 years or longer. Jul 13, 2015 at 1:35
  • 2
    The powder is talc - when you make a tube, if you don't put something like talc in the tube, the tube will stick in the manufacturing process.
    – Batman
    Jul 13, 2015 at 15:20

3 Answers 3


Yes, they do degrade over time. Unfortunately, various brands and different storage conditions yield different results, so I'm not able to give an estimation of how long can you safely store a tube. How ever, I can recommend the conditions that appeared to give best results.

The tubes I could use after long time of storage without problems where those that I kept in my room, which being in a tropical country, had temperatures of 15°-25° Celsius. They where obviously far from paints, solvents or oils, where taken out of bags and kept on a small plastic basket. Those that came in a cardboard box, where kept in the box. Also, at buy time, they where dark gray and with a subtle shine.

Negative results where obtained with tubes that where kept outside the house, in a dusty environment and subjected to humidity but not direct sunlight. (And there were paints, oils and solvents nearby, though not in an enclosed storage)

Also, tubes that had dull surface and where very dark (i.e. black) at buy time where the ones that failed shortly after installed, almost regardless of whether they where used immediately or after a time stored. Due to this, I suspect that they where already chemically damaged (And today I'm reluctant to use/buy a tube that looks this way).

Another observation is that Tubes I stored inside of plastic bags where found stuck to themselves and with a sticky or gooey surface after a year or so.

Upon inflation (outside a tire) those tubes that where badly stored shown one or more of the following tale signs: - They stretch irregularly, with bulges, instead of uniform diameter. - Crackled surface. - Irregular surface (different color and/or texture in certain spots). - Apparent punctures, i.e. what visually appeared to be holes but did not leak when water tested.


On long enough time scales (many decades), sure. Rubber-y things oxidize (seems like drying out, but it's different).

On more practical time scales (several years), keep them cool and protected from UV light and ozone. They'll be fine.

  • 1
    It's not UV light but ozone. It's not technically drying out but oxidizing.
    – RoboKaren
    Jul 13, 2015 at 1:28
  • That should be "not only UV but also ozone"
    – RoboKaren
    Jul 13, 2015 at 3:59
  • @RoboKaren noted
    – Paul H
    Jul 13, 2015 at 6:11

One semi-related tip: wrap the tube you carry with you in a sock or leave it in the box. I've wrenched at lots of centuries and multi-day rides and very often we get people coming in for mechanical help because they flatted, put in their spare tube and discovered it too was flat. The problem was the tube was sitting in the seat bag along with a multitool and other items. Over time the multitool would rub a hole in spare tube. This is also why presta valves come with a little plastic cap - it's to keep the metal tip from wearing a hole in the tube.

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