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I'm going to do a tubeless setup soon for the first time. Yes, I'm very slow to adopt new technologies. :-) But, as I researched sealants, I had a crazy idea. This paragraph from bikeradar sparked it:

Most sealants use the coagulating properties of natural latex to clog punctures. Latex is a dispersion of polymers (long chain molecules) in either water, or a water-based solution of ammonia. Inside a hole in the tyre, the air pressure drops and there is a rush of air. This causes the water/ammonia-solution to evaporate, leaving the latex molecules to coagulate (knit together), plugging the hole.

So, if we take this as correct, could the life of sealant be extended by adding a small amount of a water/ammonia solution to the tire, say, every week or so? I have no idea how much or what ratio. I have done some Googling on this, but haven't found much. I'll keep at it, but I'm curious if anyone here has heard of such a thing.

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  • Perhaps try on the chemistry stack.
    – MaplePanda
    Jul 28 '21 at 6:34
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It's really not worth it. How long it lasts will depend on how much sealant you use to begin with, how warm your ambient conditions are, and how many punctures get sealed. However its normal for sealant to last 3-6 months anyway.

Breaking the seal from the rim to add water would be a massive hassle, and probably result in extra sealant coming out of solution to re-plug any small gaps around the rim/bead interface every time you re-inflate the tyre.

Finally, as far as i'm aware ammonia was only present in very early sealants and now most brands have removed it.

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  • Thanks for the reply. My thought was to add the solution through the valve stem in the same way that I would add sealant. I have some plastic syringes with Luer lock blunt needles that readily fit inside the valve stem. But I take your point about the ammonia-- if my information is out of date, this is obviously useless.
    – Andrew
    Jul 27 '21 at 14:14
  • I hadn't even considered topping up through the valve stem - that might make a water top up somewhat more viable. Still sounds more hassle than its worth to me, but would make for an interesting experiment
    – Andy P
    Jul 27 '21 at 14:19
  • Unfortunately, it appears that Orange (my intended sealant) does not, in fact, use any appreciable amount of ammonia. There must be something in there to alter the pH, though, since that's what keeps the latex in liquid form afaik.
    – Andrew
    Jul 27 '21 at 14:45

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