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Chain sitting in mineral spirits - how long is too long?

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Chain sitting in mineral spirits - how long is too long?

Old 12-28-20, 08:00 AM
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billyymc
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Chain sitting in mineral spirits - how long is too long?

So I popped the chain off my gravel bike two weeks ago and dropped it into a container of mineral spirits and a little motor oil mixed (about 10:1).

Then I got busy with work, the holidays, a 40" snowstorm, and forgot all about the chain.

I usually leave it in the mix for a day or so at the most.

Have I done any damage to the chain? Should I replace it? This might be a stupid question - but if there's even a chance I've compromised the chain I'd rather just replace it.
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Old 12-28-20, 08:08 AM
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I'm no metallurgist but I would not hesitate to lube it and use it.
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Old 12-28-20, 08:27 AM
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If you used "real" (petroleum based) mineral spirits, the chain can soak indefinitely with no harm. If you used "green" (i.e. water based) mineral spirits long soaking can damage the chain.
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Old 12-28-20, 09:42 AM
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If a compromised chain bothers you, then why would you not have just put a new chain on when you took the other off? I'm not sure what devastating thing you fear will happen from a compromised chain.

I'd think that if it measures within what ever acceptable range of wear you go by, then just lube it up, put it on and maybe just check it more often for wear to satisfy yourself it's okay.
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Old 12-28-20, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I'm not sure what devastating thing you fear will happen from a compromised chain.
You ever have a chain break on you while riding? Let me give you a hint - they don't usually break under moderate power. Break a chain at a critical time while standing and putting out a lot of power for a short burst up a hill and let me know how that goes.

I asked because I didn't know. Thanks for the attitude. It wouldn't be bikeforums without it.
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Old 12-28-20, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
If you used "real" (petroleum based) mineral spirits, the chain can soak indefinitely with no harm. If you used "green" (i.e. water based) mineral spirits long soaking can damage the chain.
Thanks. I should be ok then. I bought green mineral spirits once and found them pretty useless for anything.
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Old 12-28-20, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by billyymc View Post
You ever have a chain break on you while riding? Let me give you a hint - they don't usually break under moderate power. Break a chain at a critical time while standing and putting out a lot of power for a short burst up a hill and let me know how that goes.

I asked because I didn't know. Thanks for the attitude. It wouldn't be bikeforums without it.
As I posted above, long soaking in real mineral spirits will do no harm whatsoever. There have been problems reported on this forum with long term soaking in water based "green mineral spirits". The chain was corroded and embrittled and did break under load. As you noted, you want to avoid that.
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Old 12-28-20, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by billyymc View Post
You ever have a chain break on you while riding? Let me give you a hint - they don't usually break under moderate power. Break a chain at a critical time while standing and putting out a lot of power for a short burst up a hill and let me know how that goes.

I asked because I didn't know. Thanks for the attitude. It wouldn't be bikeforums without it.
Short of doing a destructive test (placing it on a test stand and applying a force until it fails) no one can conclusively answer whether soaking the chain in mineral spirits (or any solution include humid air) has compromised its yield strength. . So if you have any concern, put on a new chain; cheap insurance against the sort of catastrophic failure you are concerned with.
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Old 12-28-20, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Eggman84 View Post
Short of doing a destructive test (placing it on a test stand and applying a force until it fails) no one can conclusively answer whether soaking the chain in mineral spirits (or any solution include humid air) has compromised its yield strength. . So if you have any concern, put on a new chain; cheap insurance against the sort of catastrophic failure you are concerned with.
Agree. I didn't have much concern before I asked. I have less now.

That said, the chain probably will need replacing just based on mileage / normal wear in the spring anyway. Would like to just get some winter riding out of it.
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Old 12-28-20, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by billyymc View Post
You ever have a chain break on you while riding? Let me give you a hint - they don't usually break under moderate power. Break a chain at a critical time while standing and putting out a lot of power for a short burst up a hill and let me know how that goes.

I asked because I didn't know. Thanks for the attitude. It wouldn't be bikeforums without it.
And I ask why it concerned you so much because I didn't know? So should I thank you for your attitude?

Chains break from too much power being put on them. If you can't shift to a lower gear and pedal faster, then you'll probably continue to break chains.
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Old 12-28-20, 11:01 AM
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I once bought "green" mineral spirits by accident because it was on deep discount so I didn't look at the label. Why don't they just call it something else? Reminds me of when I needed TSP for something, and all the store had was "phosphorus free TSP." What the hell is phosphorus free trisodium phosphate?

Anyway, I've stored chains in mineral spirits indefinitely. I used to take the chain off my winter bike at the end of the winter, drop it into a jar of mineral spirits, and take it back out the next winter. In terms of chemical reactivity, I don't think it's substantially different than oil or even wax.
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Old 12-28-20, 01:09 PM
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IF the executor of your estate has to deal with it, it's too long.
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Old 12-28-20, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by billyymc View Post
Have I done any damage to the chain? Should I replace it? This might be a stupid question - but if there's even a chance I've compromised the chain I'd rather just replace it.
This is the line of thinking among rock climbers with some gear. Mostly unwarranted but understandable.

Unless you think a broken chain will kill you, ride it.
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Old 12-28-20, 03:02 PM
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I don't know, but : (1) I've left a stainless chain + connex master link (which appears to be plated bronze) to marinate in a jar of mineral spirits for something like 6 months, and the master link appeared to have been corroded. Probably a case of two metals differing on the galvanic scale. I've kept the chain but discarded the master link. (2) Motivated by this thread, I've googled something like [mineral spirits corrosion] and came across this entry, which says that concentrated spirits are corrosive.

So, I wouldn't bet the farm, especially if different metals are involved. (the less noble might very well have suffered).
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Old 12-28-20, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by billyymc View Post
You ever have a chain break on you while riding? Let me give you a hint - they don't usually break under moderate power. Break a chain at a critical time while standing and putting out a lot of power for a short burst up a hill and let me know how that goes.

I asked because I didn't know. Thanks for the attitude. It wouldn't be bikeforums without it.
No, it wouldn't
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Old 12-28-20, 03:43 PM
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I've forgotten chains and other metal bike parts in mineral spirits in containers for months with no effects. Having a university chemistry degree, I cannot conceive how pure mineral spirits could lead to any negative effects.

As far as: 'green' mineral spirits, I've never heard of this. Mineral spirits are solely petroleum-based, unless they've been mixed with some polar molecules including water. This would be the last thing one would want, due to the possibility of corrosion, and the fact that water-based degreasers are inherently ineffective - Chemistry 101.

Hopefully the add-on: 'green' is just some kind of virtue-signaling label, to salve the misguided consciousnesses of a specific class of consumers. As with all lubrication and degreasing products, anything 'green' is expensive and ineffective.
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Old 12-28-20, 04:42 PM
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It's only too long if the chain is still soaking in the mineral spirits when you want to go out and ride.
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Old 12-28-20, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
I don't know, but : (1) I've left a stainless chain + connex master link (which appears to be plated bronze) to marinate in a jar of mineral spirits for something like 6 months, and the master link appeared to have been corroded. Probably a case of two metals differing on the galvanic scale. I've kept the chain but discarded the master link. (2) Motivated by this thread, I've googled something like [mineral spirits corrosion] and came across this entry, which says that concentrated spirits are corrosive.

So, I wouldn't bet the farm, especially if different metals are involved. (the less noble might very well have suffered).
Possibly the MS had some hygroscopic ingredient that attracted moisture. Ethanol in gasoline is such an animal.
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Old 12-28-20, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Motivated by this thread, I've googled something like [mineral spirits corrosion] and came across this entry, which says that concentrated spirits are corrosive.
I believe you misinterpreted that entry, The website is not describing metallic corrosion but the use of mineral spirits as a paint stripper.
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Old 12-29-20, 12:02 AM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
I don't know, but : (1) I've left a stainless chain + connex master link (which appears to be plated bronze) to marinate in a jar of mineral spirits for something like 6 months, and the master link appeared to have been corroded. Probably a case of two metals differing on the galvanic scale. I've kept the chain but discarded the master link. (2) Motivated by this thread, I've googled something like [mineral spirits corrosion] and came across this entry, which says that concentrated spirits are corrosive.

So, I wouldn't bet the farm, especially if different metals are involved. (the less noble might very well have suffered).
I would bet the farm...on the fact that there is no way that the mineral spirits is responsible for any metal corrosion. Metal corrosion needs materials that are polar like water and/or ionic substances. Those aren’t in the petroleum distillates we call “mineral spirits”. You may have had something else in the jar that caused the corrosion but it wasn’t mineral spirits.

When the link you posted said that the concentrated mineral spirits are “corrosive”, they probably meant with regards to skin...although I’m not sure what they mean by “concentrated” since mineral spirits is never diluted.
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Old 12-29-20, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by billyymc View Post
You ever have a chain break on you while riding? Let me give you a hint - they don't usually break under moderate power. Break a chain at a critical time while standing and putting out a lot of power for a short burst up a hill and let me know how that goes.

I asked because I didn't know. Thanks for the attitude. It wouldn't be bikeforums without it.
I've broken chains on both road and mountain bikes while riding. They always broke while shifting under power. I've been with my riding buddies when they've broken chains. Always when they were shifting, usually under power. I've yet to see someone strong enough to break a chain when standing and putting the power on. Including a guy that weighed 350 lbs at that time (he's now down to 170, and kicks my ass every time I ride with him.) He'd jump on the pedal so hard you could see the wheels and frame deflect. He bent and broke several pedal spindles and a bottom bracket but never a chain. I'm not saying it can't happen, just that my experience both riding and working in several bikes shops is that when someone comes in with broken chain the explanation always starts with "I was shifting and..."

As to the OP questions, I've left chains in mineral spirits up to 4 months with no ill effects. But I have broken chains before so you might want to take that into consideration. But none of the chains that broke were soaked in mineral spirits for long periods of time.
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Old 12-29-20, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by RGMN View Post
As to the OP questions, I've left chains in mineral spirits up to 4 months with no ill effects. But I have broken chains before so you might want to take that into consideration.
No correlation.
But none of the chains that broke were soaked in mineral spirits for lo
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Old 12-29-20, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
It's only too long if the chain is still soaking in the mineral spirits when you want to go out and ride.
that's what two chains are for.
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Old 12-30-20, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
I've forgotten chains and other metal bike parts in mineral spirits in containers for months with no effects. Having a university chemistry degree, I cannot conceive how pure mineral spirits could lead to any negative effects.

As far as: 'green' mineral spirits, I've never heard of this. Mineral spirits are solely petroleum-based, unless they've been mixed with some polar molecules including water. This would be the last thing one would want, due to the possibility of corrosion, and the fact that water-based degreasers are inherently ineffective - Chemistry 101.

Hopefully the add-on: 'green' is just some kind of virtue-signaling label, to salve the misguided consciousnesses of a specific class of consumers. As with all lubrication and degreasing products, anything 'green' is expensive and ineffective.
I'll let the chemists in the room review the differences, but here you go.. Regular vs Green SDS sheets.
Attached Files
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Old 12-30-20, 10:08 AM
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I bought a can of "green" paint thinner once. It was useless for the paint's and stuff I normally used mineral spirits for. So it got thrown out mostly unused. Which definitely isn't being green.

Even paint thinner that isn't marketed as "green" can be a mixture of other stuff and not pure mineral spirits.
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