The Benefits of Silca Hot Melt Waxing Your Chain

The Benefits of Silca Hot Melt Waxing Your Chain

Should you bother with waxing your bicycle chain? We think it is totally worth it. Particularly if you're being charged for a new chain, cassette or even chainrings every bike service.

The pros of waxing your chain are as follows:

  • saving money because your chain, cassette, and chainrings will last longer due to less wear (up to 15,000kms before hitting .5% wear),
  • being able to run higher level chains and cassettes and chainrings since the cost is defrayed over a longer period of time,
  • saving watts since wax reduces chain friction the best out of any lube; and
  • having a clean drive chain that's the envy of your riding mates.

The cons:

  • re-waxing or swapping chain for second prepped one every 300-500kms,
  • initial outlay for wax, chain stripping supplies, quick link pliers, chain tool, quick links, and crock pot (if you go that way). 


Silca Hot Melt Wax Chain


In our opinion it's really not that much trouble to do it. Especially if you ask your local bike shop (aka, us) to do the initial strip of the factory lube and sizing of the two chains.

Preliminary Considerations:

Chains do not come one size fits all out of the pack. They have to be "cut" or sized to your drivechain when they are installed for the first time.

So if you are stripping the factory lube and waxing a chain fresh out of the pack at home, you will need to either size your chain against your old chain that you know to be the correct length or follow the manufacturers instructions on how to size the chain for your drivechain. You will need a chain breaker tool for this.

Stripping Factory Lube:

The factory lube must be first be stripped from the chain for the wax to bond correctly to the chain metal. We've outlined two methods below.

Using Silca Chain Stripper

Immerse the chain in the Stripper and agitate 30 seconds.  Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes and agitate again for 30 seconds.  Remove the chain from the Stripper and rinse with water and then drop the chain directly into the hot wax, the water will boil off within a few minutes.

SILCA Chain Stripper is a highly concentrated, biodegradable degreaser combined with a wax adhesion promoter (primer) which allows for fast, single step preparation of factory chains for waxing while also improving wax adhesion and increasing longevity.

Using Turps and Metho

This guide is based on the advice of globally recognised guru of chain lubrication testing: Zero Friction Cycling. If you want to do a deep dive on the topic check out their site.

Firstly, get two wide mouthed empty Gatorade bottles and fill the first with 250ml of Turpentine and the second with 250ml of Methylated Spirits.

For Shimano, KMC, YBN chains soak the first chain in the Turpentine for 15 mins, then refresh the Turpentine twice more and shake the chain in the bottle for 2 minutes each time. That makes 3 baths in total.

For Campy chains do 4 baths in total and for SRAM 5 baths.

Next, it's time to clean the chain of the Turps residue using Methylated Spirits.

Transfer chain to the 250ml Methylated Spirits bottle and shake for 2 mins. Repeat this with fresh Methylated Spirits 2 more time (3 baths in total). 

Remove chain, dry completely either by hanging in the air on a spoke or with a piece of wire and hitting it with a heat gun or compressed air. Don't leave it for any longer than 12 hours though as it will rust.

Stripping a used chain:

Can you / should you clean a used chain? Short answer: don't bother - this is your opportunity to start afresh. To clean the chain so that the Turps and then Metho baths run clear might take you 3 litres plus of both solvents.

Hot Melt Waxing:

Empty your hot melt wax pellets into your slow cooker / crockpot. We got ourselves an Instapot for about $150 from Amazon.

You can use the bag that Silca wax pellets come in and drop the whole thing in a boiling pot of water but if you are going to be re-waxing every 300 - 500kms do yourself a favour and just get the crock pot.

Sacrifice a coat hanger or an old spoke to thread through the folded chain to hold it as you dip it in the wax.

When the pellets are melted, dip the chain into the crockpot and shake it around a bit for 1 minute stopping when air bubbles cease bubbling up from inside the chain.

Remove and let excess liquid wax drip off and then hang and wait for chain and wax to cool completely. This should only take about 20mins.

Fitting to the bike

If you sized your chain to your drivechain before starting the process of stripping and waxing now you just need to install it using a fresh quick link. YBN quick links (used the correct 'speed' for your chain) are our recommendation here.

If you didn't size it before hand, well, do it now and THEN install your chain.

Quick links

You shouldn't reuse Shimano or SRAM quick links more than once. YBN quick links are our go to as they are cheaper than the aforementioned, they can be re-used up to 5 times, and they are made in a way that is just as strong as normal chain links.

Life with a waxed chain

To re-wax, simply pour boiling water over the used chain a couple of times and wipe clean with a micro-fibre towel. Then immerse again in the hot wax.

The benefits of a waxed chain are maximised if you swap to the second waxed chain every 300kms, and always wipe the chain down with a microfibre towel if it gets wet. We are talking 15,000kms PLUS before each chain will measure 0.5% wear with a chain checker (this being the relelvant time to replace an 11 speed chain).

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