Chain Waxing 101


A few people have asked me about chain waxing recently, and as someone who's a relatively recent convert, I want to try and make a step-by-step simple guide for you all to follow. Before I do that though, I should probably answer the WHY you want to wax your chain. 

  1. It's fast. Waxing your chain is proven to be among the lowest friction coating, and saves you watts. 
  2. It's long-lasting. The wax stays on your chain longer than drip lubes, and keeps running more efficiently. This also helps protect your components against premature wear.
  3. It's clean. Never fear the cat-5 tattoo ever again. Wax doesn't attract grit and grime like drip lubes. This also means less cleaning and maintenance (this part is important. More on that later). 

If you don't believe me, take a peek here (Zero Friction Cycling). They go into much more detail (like.. too much detail) about chain waxing, but I hope to save you all the time by summarizing the steps below.

Okay, so here are the things you'll need to get started. 

  • A crock-pot (~under $20). Search Facebook marketplace and you're likely to find dozens of them listed for sale. It doesn't need to be fancy, just don't get one that's too big. 
  • Mineral Spirits. (~$15) Find it at Canadian tire. Here's the link
  • Degreaser. (~$15). Don't buy any of that cycling-specific stuff. Here's a link to some okay stuff, again from Canadian tire. 
  • Methyl Hydrate ($15). Once again, can be purchased at Canadian tire at this link. Basically just alcohol. 
  • Mason Jars. I bought a 4-pack at Dollarama for $4. 
  • Silca Hot Melt Wax ($40). Get it through our friends at ARG Sports

Alright, now you've all your essentials. This stuff should get you through the entire season or more. Here's now what you do: 

STEP 1A: Prepare your jars. My recommendation is to start with a brand new chain, because properly cleaning a used chain is a pita. Label your four mason jars. The first two jars will be half-filled with mineral spirits. The 3rd jar will be half-filled with degreaser. The 4th jar will be half-filled with alcohol. 

STEP 1B: Clean your chain. Place the new chain into jar 1, shake vigorously, and ideally leave for 30 minutes+ to soak. Longer the better. Remove chain, and drop into jar 2. Shake vigorously and leave for more time. Remove chain, and drop into jar 3 (degreaser). Shake vigorously. Leave for 10 minutes. Remove chain. Drop chain into jar 4 (alcohol). Shake vigorously. Remove right away and set to dry. You can also wipe chain with clean microfibre cloth. Make sure chain is completely dry. 

STEP 2: Pour half the bag of Silca Hot Melt Wax into your crockpot. Flick to LOW. Wrap chain onto an old spoke or coat hanger as seen in photo, and place into the crockpot. As the wax melts, the chain will drop into the wax. Swish the chain around a bit. Remove chain and let hang. Excess wax will drip back into the pot. 

STEP 3: Once the wax has hardened, your chain will be solid and you'll need to break the links apart to get them moving. I usually just wrap the chain around a plastic dowel or a railing. Then, re-install the chain back onto the bike (using a quick-link), and go for a quick spin. The wax will still continue to flake off, so your shifting won't be perfect to start, but within 10 minutes the chain will be running smoothly and with very little friction ;) 

For continued maintenance of your waxed chain: 

  • If you're at home when you finish a ride and feel like re-waxing, pop your chain off, plop it into your crock pot, turn it onto LOW, then go take a shower or stretch or whatever, and an hour later your chain will be re-waxed and ready to go again.  
  • If you're not at home (let's say you're away at a stage race or travelling), you may want to bring a little bottle of drip-wax like this one for a top-up, but it's not really necessary unless you ride through lots of rain, or hundreds of km's. 

That's it. It may seem daunting at first but truly, once you get it set-up, you'll wonder why you didn't do it before. If you have questions, reach out. 

One thing to note: If you ride in rain, just be sure to dry the chain as quickly as you can after the ride. I always just bring a few microfibre cloths with me when I travel. 

More info: LINK LINK