I was thinking about a patching tiny puncture I got from a metal sliver in the road. I usually don't even attempt to patch tubes, I always carry a spare, put that on and recycle the tube and forget about it.

I was wondering if it would be feasible to fix a small hole in the tube by applying heat from a lighter until some of the material melted and fused back together. Or even dripping some molten plastic or rubber over the whole if it were larger.

Has anyone ever done this successfully? I'm curious about butyl and latex tubes.


No, that won't work because first and foremost tube rubber isn't going to liquefy and re-solidify and be fine; it's going to burn and be weak.

Traditional vulcanizing patches do more or less what you're talking about. The vulcanizing fluid acts on the rubber to permanently fuse the patch and make the tube as good as new. It's easy and gives predictable results.


I think that by melting and fusing back the material you get something very rigid, that does not expand when the tube is inflated (therefore over-stretching the old material and cracking itself) or if by miracle you can fuse it with the tube inflated (to me seems very hard to do, wasn't the tube punctured?) then the as soon as the tube deflate the new material may crack.

I think you can collect a reasonably large amount of punctured tubes in a short time: just ask any people having more than 1 bike if they have any tubes to give away... then do a statistical meaningful experiment.

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    (Butyl) rubber is not thermoplastic. No melting our fusing with heat. Fusing with a de-vulcaniser does not make the material rigid or brittle. – gschenk Sep 5 at 18:07
  • @gschenk you are talking like vulcanizing is an exact science, neglecting hundreds of empirical tests made by mr. Goodyear that practically by chance led him to discover the process for which he is famous :) ! By the way: Goodyear obviously died broke. – EarlGrey Sep 18 at 9:11
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    EarlGrey, as a physicist I often made jokes on what an exact science is. Part of the fun was that chemists very strongly objected that. I am not an organic chemist, so I may have oversimplified things inexcusably. If I did so I am eager to learn. Would you be so kind to explain the thermoplastic properties of elastomers? – gschenk Sep 18 at 14:47
  • @gschenk Don't take me wrong: I am thankful for your explanation. It is just funny (to me) that the vulcanization process has been discovered by Goodyear (I do not say invented: I do not think he had a clear idea about what he was trying to do). When I think about Goodyear, I always think of someone like Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald (Klaus Kinski in the movie Fritzcarraldo). Chemistry is half science, half empirical, like medicine, but they are as useful as antiquate. – EarlGrey Sep 19 at 13:29

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