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How do you keep your chain out of the muck when re-waxing it?

I've been using this colander:

Colander

There's an unperforated section around where it bends at the bottom.

At first I had it in the bottom of my crock pot and noticed there was about 3cm depth of stuff that looked like black miso soup that my chain was sitting in.

I raised the colander up by ~4cm and it's not swimming in gunk, but there's a definite residue of the stuff in the bottom of the colander where the chain sits.

The chain came out covered with wax that was a little grey when wiped off.

 

I'm considering using this strainer next:

Strainer

Would a strainer allow hot wax to circulate around the chain but not let dirt settle in the bottom?

I previously tried plant pots but the plastic became so soft during soaking that I couldn't easily remove the chain without stirring up the sediment.

 

Is there a better way I could keep the chain and the muck separate from each other while it's soaking?

Thanks in advance!

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    Iv'e never waxed a chain so cant offer any answers or advise, however there is a great thread here bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/51188/… which may offer a better direction. if i had to wax a chain my logic would say thoroughly de-grease and clean chain first before waxing. – Dan K Jul 15 '19 at 10:40
  • I'm not sure the gray wax is that big a deal. Mine's a bit stained as well, and I use an ultrasonic to clean before I cook the chains in wax. I've never noticed any grit, and any that does make it to the chain will likely flake off with the excess surface wax. With a lot of grit, I guess I'd decant. – WPNoviceCoder Jul 16 '19 at 21:57
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Once you have fully de-greased and waxed the chain, most suggest that you can simply re-dip the chain in melted paraffin to re-wax, but as you have found out this can leave small particles in the bottom of the slow cooker.

Personally, I just keep a small circular mesh steel plate at the bottom of the slow cooker to keep the chain out of the debris when re-waxing. Then every so often I like to remove the debris from the wax.

Removing debris from the wax

While the wax is liquid in the slow cooker I will pour off wax into a container (usually old yogurt container that has been cleaned). Because it takes time for wax to cool and harden, typically the debris first settle to the bottom prior to the wax hardening.

Once the wax has hardened I will heat up the outside of the container (e.g., boiling water) to loosen the adhesion of the solid wax to the container so I can get the wax out as one solid chunk. The debris will then be at one end of solid wax piece, making it easy to cut off the wax with the debris.

With the debris removed, I will remelt the remainder of the wax and reuse.

Cleaning chains before re-waxing

Once a chain has been de-greased and waxed, it is much easier to clean than a regular chain that has been lubed with oil. As such, cleaning the chain before re-waxing can ensure you wax stays cleaner for longer before having to deal with debris build up.

There are two main approaches that I know about:

  1. Soak the dirty chain in boiling water, the heat will liquefy the paraffin. Agitate the chain to loosen debris, then wipe the chain with a clean rag. This typically gets the chain very clean before re-waxing.
  2. Ultrasonic cleaner. Molten speed wax has a good tutorial on this approach. I haven't tried this so I can't comment.

Both approaches are water based (i.e., aqueous) cleaning solutions as such please ensure your chain has had time to dry before attempting to re-wax. When dealing with boiling water, ensure you use heavy duty gloves to prevent burns.

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  • After an ultrasonic cleaning and hot water rinse, baking your chain on a cookie sheet (covered in foil if you like) is a quick way to dry it thoroughly. Remaining wax will also melt out. The lowest temperature your oven can manage will usually dry it in 15 minutes or so. – WPNoviceCoder Jul 16 '19 at 22:00
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I use two slow cookers / crock pots to reduce the accumulated gunk in the wax (can get cheap ones for less than £10 in the UK). Quick wipe with damp cloth to remove external dirt, then a good soak and swirl in "pot 1", which seems to "clean" the chain, then let the liquid wax run off the chain, before into "pot 2" for the final wax application. You can visibly see the difference in retained dirt between the two batches of wax, once the wax has cooled and hardened in the pots.

Pot 1 (top), Pot 2 (bottom)

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  • I think that either Molten Speed Wax or Zero Friction Cycling may have suggested this approach as an option, but I can't find a source. Nonetheless, logically it should work. The theory is that when you immerse a chain in wax, the wax and the contaminants stuck to it will melt off into the slow cooker, so you reset the chain to the average level of contamination in the wax pot. Logically, the second pot should have lower contamination than the first. – Weiwen Ng Nov 23 '20 at 15:31

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