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A while back I got myself a 5kg block of paraffin (this being the smallest the candlemaking supplies store had to offer) to wax my chains. Then it hit me that the cassettes I have been using are definitely of the non-stainless variety, and tend to end up with rust spots on the occasions I have parked my bike outside, and using oil to protect the cassette would defeat part of the purpose of waxing the chain.

So, I started wondering, could a cassette be waxed along with the chains to protect it from rust?

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    Point for future readers- this is a cassette which has no moving parts by itself. If you have a freewheel this would be a very bad idea because it would upset the pawls, and probably the bearings too. – Criggie Dec 14 '19 at 21:19
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The point of waxing is not to rustproof but to lubricate the chain's internals where they articulate. The rest of the wax flakes off quickly. So this wouldn't have the desired effect.

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So, despite what the question implies, I went ahead and waxed my old cassette with the chains, with mixed results.

I gave the cassette a soak in mineral spirits, followed by denatured spirits and then soap water and a rinse in plain water to clean it, the same as I did with the chains. I made sure to write down where the plastic spacers were, but I have since misplaced the piece of paper.

As for the actual waxing, I put the individual sprockets in the wax for about the 45 seconds the guide I was using recommended for chains, then fished them out and left them to cool.

The first problem was that the thin layer of wax on either side of the sprocket added up enough that I ended up having to rub some of the sprockets together to thin the wax layer enough to even put the cassette back on the bike. I had trouble indexing my gears afterwards, probably because the wax still threw the sprockets' positioning off. I suspect that this is also why my cassette came off mid-ride some time later.

All in all, I might check to see if any of the wax remains on the cassette, and if it does try waxing a new cassette still on the packaging tube to see if that mitigates the problem with the wax getting between the sprockets.

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  • Did you do anything to the lockring and the outermost (ie smallest) cog? I'd be leery of messing up the lockring/cassette interface, which holds things together. Adding wax there would reduce the tightning torque. – Criggie Dec 14 '19 at 21:21
  • To de-wax an item that has been previously over-waxxed, hang it from a metal wire/hook. Position it over your heating pan to catch liquid wax, then hit the item with a hairdryer or hot air gun. The wax will melt and run down. Avoid high windspeed to minimise sideways splatter. – Criggie Dec 14 '19 at 21:22
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    @Criggie I waxed the smallest cog with the rest of them, but I didn't wax the lockring. – HAEM Dec 14 '19 at 22:39
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    I'd wonder about the torque required to seat and unseat the lockring. Roughly 40Nm is recommended for lockrings, and the layer of wax would make it become "looser" after some rides. I strongly suggest you check the cassette lockring tightness in a week or so. – Criggie Dec 15 '19 at 2:04
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    @Criggie that would explain why the damn thing came loose a few weeks after the waxing. – HAEM Dec 15 '19 at 10:45

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