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I tried recently to lubricate the chain of my bike with drip wax (Squirt), and am quite pleased with the result. Given molten wax seems to be even better, I am wondering: is it required to remove all traces of the previous wax before applying a new one?

And more generally, is it required to clean the chain before changing type (for example from drip from/to molten or between different kinds of waxes of the same style)?

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My understanding is as follows. However, note that my practical experience is limited to Silca's drip and molten waxes.

It's best to clean the chain, but you should be able to just clean it in boiling water. I think, but I'm not 100% sure, that Squirt and Smoove have higher paraffin oil content than some of the later drip waxes1, and it would be better to get this off. However, again, boiling water should suffice. Additionally, there's dirt embedded on the surface of the chain, and you would want to remove this to reduce the contamination of your molten wax over time.

I believe you can go from molten wax to a drip wax without cleaning the chain.

You might want to take note of the low-friction additives in the waxes. Molten Speed Wax and Silca use tungsten disulfide in their molten waxes (MSW switched from molybdenum disulfide + PTFE sometime in the last two years). Silca and Tru Tension's Bananaslip Tungsten All Weather lube are known to use tungsten disulfide. There shouldn't be issues mixing melt and drip wax lubes in this class. Or, potentially, waxing your chain in high-quality (e.g. food grade) paraffin and adding whatever drip lube you want.

Ceramicspeed is also a wax lube, but I don't know what its low friction additives are, and I suspect that they're different from the WS2 group. I personally wouldn't mix Ceramicspeed with other wax lubes, but this is probably overthinking it. Effetto Mariposa has a drip wax based on sunflowers, and I believe there aren't any low-friction additives; this should probably be fine with paraffin-based waxes (on the theory that they're all waxes), but it is a different type.

The low-friction additives are likely to account for a fraction of a watt of friction savings (and these are usually tested at 250W input, which is quite high for most people). So, to some extent, the discussion above may be academic.


Footnote: Josh Poertner (of Silca, so note his commercial interest) recently posted on Slowtwitch. He verified what I said about older drip waxes and oil content, and he remarked that people using Squirt to top up a melt wax would see that Squirt had issues penetrating the chain all the way to the rollers. He also has some commentary on Effetto Mariposa's wax.

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