Latest Zero Friction Cycling News – PTFE
Latest News #15 – PTFE!!
Hello to all my dear low friction peeps, sorry its been awhile since any actual content of substance, things have been madness and mayhem since move to start sort of catching up. It was a big move, big set up at new pad, and one heck on inbox to get on top of – so many thanks to all for your patience with order dispatch delays, and as always huge thanks for your support that has taken ZFC from a little hobby experiment to something that demanded a serious facility upgrade – and ZFC really picking up steam now saving ever more drive trains, easily avoided friction, vastly lower maintenance, and combating the huge amount of rubbish info and content out there on the ol interweb.
I have far to many updates to cover in this one so time provided I will hopefully be tapping them out relatively soon after each other over the next few weeks to catch everyone up on a few hot topics, so make sure to check in with FB / insta / latest news section on website regularly.
Topic number one that is most urgent to cover off was recent podcast on cycling tips re PFAS and PTFE. As you know I am a very big fan of cycling tips – I have always admired their culture which drives their content, and they were the first and only publication I contacted when ZFC had reached a sufficient level of testing information to possibly be of interest – which they were, and we have collaborated on a few projects since then to the benefit of all.
On this podcast however the section covering PTFE and PFAS was for me a bit confusing. The content expert seemed to jump around a bit on whether PTFE itself was inert and perfectly safe – it was the production of PTFE which was really bad, to at other times she was concerned that James Huang had a wax with PTFE in it his garage, she wouldn’t want that in her garage, hoped he was wearing gloves etc. There were numerous times where it jumped from PTFE is perfectly safe and used in medical procedures, some that stick some PTFE directly inside your body, to concern re bicycle shop mechanics long term exposure to lubricants with PTFE – all up I carried a very confused expression throughout this segment, and worried what message cyclists might take away from it.
Depending on how your brain was able to process that segment, you may have arrived at a conclusion of PTFE is perfectly safe but we need to worry about its production, to it’s a concern I should be careful how I handle it, or I should throw out anything with PTFE in it immediately. I have fed back I would like the key information in this segment to be clarified better if possible.
I have looked into PTFE previously with regards to toxicity concerns as some customers have heard the stories of “Teflon Flu”etc, and birds dropping dead in kitchens when non stick frying pans are used, and all research, material safety data sheets etc – confirm that PTFE itself is indeed completely inert and non toxic unless you heat it to 400 degree’s in which case it will break down and off gas, a gas which can cause flu like symptoms. And kill your budgerigar (the gas is very harmful to birds, humans the symptoms quickly dissipate, still i would avoid said fumes, they can’t be beneficial).
So, unless you are getting your waxing REALLY WRONG by massively over heating it, any wax with PTFE in it is 100% not toxic to you or the environment. The PTFE particles are bound to the wax particles, so they don’t jump out at you. Again unless it gets to somewhere in the environment where it is going to reach 400 degree’s, it will not break down to any other toxic particles.
There are two bigger issues with its use in lubricants however. The first is that the production of PTFE is very bad. On that front, UFO drip v2 (I can’t order yet – has tested amazing, detail review on to do list) does not contain PTFE. Silca Hot melt and SS drip does not contain ptfe and tungsten disulfide is not a PFAS chemical. Mspeedwax contains only 5 grams of PTFE per 500gram bag of wax – I have contacted mspeedwax re this and they have confirmed that even this small amount is being phased out shortly – an even faster blend is coming (well, here already, sshhhh). However if you have bags of the existing formula, – worry not, the PTFE is not toxic to you, and it is a tiny amount. Remember every single drinking water pipe and tap connection in your house is wrapped in Teflon tape on the threads to water proof seal it, and likely your frying pans are coated with it. Just keep those pans under 400dg. And your hot water system.
The second issue is that whist it is inert, it is still called a forever chemical because it just basically will not break down in the environment. Handy in that it wont do so and produce something toxic, not handy in that we just don’t need a to add more of a polymer into our environment that will not break down. It is not of any benefit either, and once it’s in the environment its not going anywhere.
So I do 100% agree with the aimed outlook of the episode and the content expert did raise valid questions and push back with regards to do we really have to use PTFE, or is there another way. And as it turns out for the fastest known products ZFC has ever tested, there is another way – with 2 of the 3 already out of using PTFE and the third not far behind – and the amount being used by the third at the moment is very small. Some of you who have seen certain home wax blends on you tube will have seen one that advised to add 50 grams of PTFE to a pound of wax – 50 grams!!! This is the difference between backyarders guessing as to what may be needed, vs those who have properly tested to know what was needed from way back in the friction facts days which gave birth to UFO chains and MSW.
Last bit to cover off is Mspeedwax race powder, this is a mix of ultrafine molybdenum and PTFE, moly is not a PFAS chemical it is a metal, and again Msw have advised they are well down the path of removing PTFE from race powder as well, I don’t have an exact timeline but it will be 2021 – hopefully the first half.
In the interim – which is in the instructions – ensure you wear gloves (not due to toxicity just the moly stains your skin easily and is a bugger to wash off) and a dust mask, as the ultrafine powder will be airborne to a degree as you powder chain, and whilst there is no direct concern re breathing it in, there is definitely no benefit to breathing it in either.
ZFC is very passionate re lowering the environmental impact on what should be a green activity whether you do it for recreation or professional racer. One of the major drivers behind ZFC’s testing to find and stock the genuine best lubricants is that they save on many fronts.
- The top lubricants achieve their exceptional low wear rates by remaining very clean. As such they need very little to no cleaning maintenance, or just boiling water. When I think about how many tens of millions of households around the world have someone regularly degreasing or some other solvent clean of their chain and where does this all end up – I worry.
- The top lubricants save wasting components by often doubling, tripling, sometimes quintupling – your drive train component wear rates. Chains are almost never recycled, nor are cassettes or chain rings. Why not cut in half or thirds the amount of money you spend on replacing drivetrain components and cut in half the amount of dirty oily chains, cassettes and chain rings ending up in landfill.
- More manufacturers (MSpeedwax, Silca, Ab graphene, CS UFO) are offering the ability to purchase pre prepared chains. This is most excellent as it means you do not have to deal with solvent cleaning off the factory grease and what to do with solvents afterwards. Stocks from Silca and AB can be extremely limited – handily ZFC is (proudly) able to offer chains in any of those pre prep treatments, and solvents used at ZFC have very low to nil toxicity and are recycled via an alcohol distiller (and what I end up not being able to recycle is properly disposed of via SA’s Hazardous liquid waste – but even this is tiny – like a few litres a year from thousands of pre prepped chains).
- ZFC is the only company in the world able to offer multiple manufacture preparations as these major manufacturers have 100% confidence in perfect ultrasonic prep every time – their brand name is attached to the prepped chain being purchased so if poorly prepped it could easily be thought by customer the lubricant on chain was rubbish. None of them will be signing off on any other completely unaffiliated business prepping chains with their branding in the foreseeable future. Premium brand reputation is something all of the above companies have worked very hard to achieve and retain – and is not going to be risked on any joe blogs selling prepped chains from their garage. I take great pride in providing customers with perfectly prepped chains and so am extremely pleased to be in a position to assist in getting more pre-prepped chains out to more people than the above manufacturers can achieve on their own.
- ZFC is also very proud to be able to offer to Australian customers (sorry international customers, shipping rates are not viable!) that should you purchase a pre prepped chain from ZFC, you can send in your OEM chain to be prepped for free – all you need to do is cover the return shipping. This is helping prevent the large number of brand new chains that were being thrown away as customers wished to get straight onto a pre prepped chain with a great lubricant vs faffing with chemicals to sort out removing factory grease themselves, and then what to do with said chemicals. For many cleaning off factory grease is a real barrier to moving to proper lube vs simply adding a top lubricant directly over the top of factory grease – which will produce a terrible result performance & wear wise. If one has never done it before, live in an apartment etc – rather than wasting a chain, one gets to run two beautifully prepped and lubed chains on rotation. Nowhere else in the world offers such a service – it certainly is not a profit making service. Ultrasonic cleaning and prepping a chain takes time, and the prep itself obviously carries some cost to perform. However, it was a service I felt had to be introduced as I couldn’t abide brand new chains being thrown away, and I do worry where solvents end up for those having crack at home vs in a facility set up to prep thousands of chain per year.I wish I could offer this service international but yeah….. shipping rates out of Aus are rather hefty by way of us being a ginormous continent with relatively tiny commerce, but perhaps in time other companies in other continents will introduce a similar service option – even if they have to charge something to bring to bear, it will be worth it – support it if it happens, start asking for it if it isn’t.
- With this service currently not available in 194 other countries, like the majority of environment issues like taking your gel wrappers home with you – it is ON YOU to follow manufacturer prep instructions (Or ZFC waxing zen master guide which covers chain prep for any top lube) – it is very easy if you haven’t prepped a chain before – but what you need to do is simply dispose of any solvents properly via your local councils hazardous liquid waste facilities. You don’t have to do this a lot, you can keep in a container under your sink or outside or in shed and do an annual run. You wouldn’t just chuck your plastic waste out on the street, don’t just pour your solvent out in the back yard or down the drain unless you know it is 100% non toxic for the environment. The chemicals recommended by ZFC in aus (mineral turpentine and methylated spirits) prep chains extremely well and have extremely low to nil environmental toxicity – however what you are cleaning OFF the chain we are not sure of – so if you clean a factory grease chain / dirty chain – keep it in container and dispose of properly.If you aren’t buying a prepped chain, you can still send your chains to ZFC I have the cost to prep new and existing chains on webstore in ultrasonic cleaning services – unfortunately I have to charge something as I cannot clean all of Australian cyclists chains for free, but if you will find my pricing is WAY lower than anywhere else in the world that offers a similar service.
In summary! – PTFE is not toxic to you, at all, unless you are doing shit with it at 400 degree’s, so don’t do that. The manufacture of PTFE however is bad, but we nearly have all the top known products now PTFE free, and the last one is only using a tiny amount soon to also be zero amount.
Keep doing what you are doing re spreading the word to your cycling buddies re hows about use a chain lubricant that massively reduces their component wear, and depending on existing lubricant – amount of maintenance time and solvents ending up likely nowhere good.
Remember & spread the word that ZFC is the ONLY company in the world that is able to offer chains pre-prepped with the proven top lubricant choices from multiple manufacturers, and that they can get their OEM chains prepped for free with any prep chain purchase just cover shipping, and also any other chains can also be prepped for cost well under anywhere else in the world (Aus customers only sorry). This is better in most cases vs having a crack yourself and pouring solvents somewhere, or throwing away a perfectly good chain.
Final bit – how to dispose or your old wax?
I think I have this covered in FAQ guide but basically just melt wax, pour into an aluminium bbq tray, wipe pot with paper towel, put fresh wax into pot, when set old wax goes into normal rubbish bin. Yes it will go to landfill, but its mostly food grade wax, the additives are not toxic, and with landfill sites they are kinda designed not to have whatever is ditched that is toxic get into places like ground water.
When I boiling water flush rinse my chain, what should I do with that water?
In the past I was a bit lazy and used to just pour this water out into garden, but these days as I try to keep improving my activities on the environmental front – I have a broad based container from hardware store, I pour into that and take outside to let water evaporate which leaves wax residue behind, every now and then I can simply scrape this off and put into rubbish for landfill. I need to update FAQ with this bit.
K – hope that covers / clarifies the whole PTFE thing, and the good news is that we are almost at zero PTFE for the top known lubricants, and will be at zero soon, and the tiny amount we do still have we an easily manage until its no longer in the product.
I take encouragement from the fact that really it has been pressure from the community and experts such as the lady (sorry I have forgotten her name) that was brought on to discuss the topic on the podcast that helps ensure manufacturers look to alternatives that don’t involve PFAS anywhere in the production chain, and there has been zero detriment in performance in moving to alternatives – in fact the lubricants keep on getting faster! So, whilst sometimes the cogs move slowly, they are turning. We can see changes now being made in packaging for bicycles, and much more – there is a huge amount to be done still however – ZFC is trying to do its bit, and encourage everyone to consider what they can do on the drivetrain front reduce waste, chemicals, and environmental impact in running your lovely steed.
K – I think I made that long enough to pass as a ZFC post…..
Next update/s– product updates and project updates, then soon will be some bearing hints and tips and how to check at home, and free spin bearing checks be handy after all and how to do properly to ensure your bike is silk lightning or if you have high friction bearings hiding somewhere on your bike. Stay tuned!