In a pinch…make your own chain degreaser & lube combo

chain lube

I ran out of fancy commercial dry lube for my bicycle chain on my road bike and decided to make my own from what I had on hand around the house. A quick search on Google revealed that many people use paraffin wax (which attracts too much dirt) or ordinary motor oil diluted with mineral spirits in a 1:3 or 1:5 ratio.

I had some two stroke 50:1 motor oil in the garden shed along with a couple of large containers of camp fuel (naphtha). I know from previous experience that naphtha (similar to mineral spirits), although highly volatile (flammable), makes an excellent degreaser and evaporates very quickly. The motor oil is a dark blue colour and when diluted to a 1:3 or 1:2 ratio with naphtha, it becomes a very light thin oil and degreaser.

My wife happened to have a few small 4 fluid ounce (118 mL) clear pump-spray bottles that I mixed in the aforementioned ratios with a plastic 1 tablespoon (15mL) measuring spoon. The final mixes turned out a deep-sea blue colour, similar in consistency to window washer, only with oil as an additive. I sprayed on the mixture on my chain and it quickly dissolved any gummed up oil and dirt. In about a minute or so, I wiped off any excess oil. What surprised me was that the naphtha had already evaporated leaving a very fine film of oil on a clean chain.

Wow, a degreaser and light lubricant all-in-one similar to commercial chain lubricant products like White Lightening. Perhaps, I will not have to degrease the chain, chainrings, and cassette very often anymore with commercial heavy duty citrus cleaner.

I will test the different ratios of lube over the next few weeks to determine which would serve well as a dry lube (dusty dry conditions) and a wet lube (rainy and wet conditions). The actual cost of making my own bike chain degreaser and lube is negligible and a mere fraction of something similar commerically for at least ten dollars for a 4 oz. (118mL) bottle of dry lube. Time to make my own degreaser and lube? Less than five minutes!

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


2 thoughts on “In a pinch…make your own chain degreaser & lube combo

  1. Just for the sake of accuracy , paraffin wax attracts no dirt . It is the cleanest and and once mixed with PTFE powder is the best chain lube around. And thats also lab test proven . 😉

    1. Interesting opinion, but based on my experience of waxing chains with paraffin and even various glider waxes from XC skiing, including hydrocarbons and fluorocarbons, dirt buildup is significant even after a 100km ride. PTFE is the parent chemical of “Teflon” and is indeed a slippery substance. I have used various products with teflon as a chain lubricant including TriFlo. Nevertheless, I have never found any commercial product superior over another regardless of the questionable methodology behind all the commercial scientific claims. Another downside of paraffin, in my experience, is that it takes strong chemical cleaners to properly clean the chain before an initial wax application. Removing the chain frequently to soak in a wax pot and drip dry is also a bit of a hassle, especially with several bikes in the stable. The whole point of my post was a do-it-yourself chain degreaser and lube experiment. I’ll try to post the results after a few weeks of training and racing. I may even ask some of my friends who are long-distance randonneurs to try the blend also. Of course, at best, the results will be anecdotal. Cheers!

Comments are closed.