Tubless bike Sealants last very long in some cases and not so much and depending on the different factors and signs you may need a replacement sooner than you think.
There are lots of signs actually before the sealant goes back and i think if you are beginner you should really pay attention to these things and noticing them on time could potentially save you from losing alot of your precious time.
Signs that your tubless sealant may need replacement :
here are some easy-to-spot signs that you may need to change your sealant.
- sealant leaking in large amounts
- sealant not leaking at all but still little air loss from the tire (3-4psi) per day
- sealant noise from the tire has reduced
- sealant not closing the punctures in time or taking longer than usual
- sealant not closing the holes at all
Some of these signs are very obvious and you can easily see or hear that there might be some kind of a problem with them.
Usually, sealants can last over 6 months inside the tires or shelf but different seasons mean different temperatures and different performance.
Sealants will outperform or last way longer in colder environments (10 °C -25 °C) or 50-77 °F but humidity is a factor as well and many other things as well, if you want to know more about that you can check out my recent article on how long sealants last and how to increase its life span
Let’s get on with the topic at hand and the big question is how would you check if the sealant
to understand sealants better here is what sealants are made of and how it works.
What are tubeless Sealants made of :
Sealants are made of 5 main components water, latex(natural or industrial), rubber pieces, adhesives, propylene, or ethylene glycol these are the main components of the sealant, and here’s where they come from and their purpose in the sealant.
these are not the only ingrediants in it there ae many other chemicals in it as well like corrision saving chemicals and many more no body knows the exact recipie of the sealnt and we respect it in that aspect as well since its their product and all.
Latex in the simplest term is liquid rubber, it comes from a rubber tree that’s called natural latex, and its already a very powerful adhesive but in its crude form or you can say in its original form it’s too dense and not to mention it dries very very quickly the rubber pieces added to it are very small that’s the gunk that you usually see when it dries up inside the tire or in a bottle.
then there’s propylene or ethylene glycol added to it to increase its freezing and boiling points which helps it last for so long, water is mixed in it as well since the ethylene to propylene glycol is powdered form and the latex is already dense enough.
Did you know that : pure latex would dry up or freeze in an hour on normal tempratures
Ethylene glycol is not used anymore in the sealants because it’s toxic most companies or manufacturers these days use glycol it has lesser freezing and boiling points (5 to 8 degrees) but over propylene is used because it’s not toxic.
Moving on everything is mixed in the water because otherwise, the solution would be so dense that it wouldn’t even move inside your tires so it’s made very lucrative so it can move around and seal the punctures not just on the bottom but on the side walls as well which would otherwise be impossible.
I hope that it gave you a better understanding of what a sealant is and how it’s made.
Here’s how different weather conditions affect sealants :
Now before moving on to how to check if your sealant is expired first let’s take a look at how sealants perform in different weather conditions.
From 10 °C to 25 °C inside your tires and sealants could last 4-5 months before expiring.
From -10 °C to –25 °C sealant will freeze or slow down meaning it will take longer to seal the punctures
Note : Some sealants work pretty well over or under these tempratures this is just an average number that we usually see.
Humidity is an interesting thing Sealants will perform better at higher humidity regardless of the season the summer the outside temperatures at higher humidity evaporation decrease which makes the sealant last longer.
On the other hand in winter the humidity is high but it ends up transferring cold more which could make it freeze solid and that’s not good.
Sealants becomes useless if they freeze up even if you shake them they wont perform nearly as good as they did before or just become useless
Moving on here’s a quick clever way to see if your sealant is still working or not.
A quick trick to check if the sealant is expired or not :
Before I get into other topics here’s how to check if the sealant is really expired and whether to use it or not.
if you had your sealant for a long time and you don’t know its expiration date or you don’t see any expiry date or information on the bottle or you just don’t remember how long it has been inside your tires here’s a quick test you can perform to determine whether it’s good or it has become useless over time.
Take a little amount of sealant from the bottle or from inside your tire, find a plank of wood that has tiny holes in it place it on a hard surface pour some sealant on it wait to see if it closes the holes perfectly or if it just washed right through it and it’s all over the place another good thing to check would see if it even fills the holes of the wood if it stays on the surface and doesn’t go all the way in or if it poured right through it, it’s may not be useful anymore.
If it has slowed down over time you can check that as well at how much speed it closes those holes.
You might be wondering “why this guy is asking me to experiment on wood and not rubber”, well you are right here’s the reason for that.
Almost all of the wood fillers are latex-based now please don’t confuse them with sealants they are very different from each other but the basic material is the same so the sealant will work on wood and it should seal the holes in the wood and if it’s to the extent of a puncture hole or than yeah it will work just fine.
a major difference would be thickness wood fillers are thicker than the tubless or tube sealants, Its just for the knowledge base just dont try it as an alternative because we don’t know what the results could be.
Moving on there is a lot of concern about leaving the sealant inside the tires.
Should you leave the sealant inside the tire for a long period :
No, the reason for that is really simple remember how I mentioned sealants can contain ethylene or propylene glycol in them to boost their freezing and boiling points, ethylene, if left on the rubber for long periods of time, could react with rubber. now we don’t know which brands use ethylene or propylene we have no way of knowing it.
so leaving it inside the tire can be a little bit risky but very are talking for long periods of time for example if you store your bike for the winter season, I wouldn’t leave it or take the risk because it’s simply not worth it.
I do leave it be for shorter periods of time like a week or so that is fairly okay to do and I haven’t encountered any problem so far I also asked around just in case to be 100% certain and nobody has seen any effects in that much period of time.
Although a lot of people have left it inside for longer periods of time and the results are different some say it did others say it doesn’t so on and so forth but what I am trying to say is why to take a risk if you are really not sure.
How often you should add Sealant to your tubless tires :
Now that you know what sealant is all bout its main ingredients and everything I do assume that you know by now how often you should change it but for the sake of people who will fall in this section directly here’s a pretty solid answer for you.
you should change your sealant every 3-4 months temperature in your area is around 10 to 25 °C or if it is below -10 to 25 °C another indication would be if it is getting really slow for you to notice that it’s not sealing quick enough which happens in extreme cold and extreme heat but the same cannot be said for refilling it over time.
By refilling I mean if the sealant has been leaking in larger quantities then the first thing you might wanna do is check for problems if the hole poked by a glass or anything bigger than a thorn has made the sealant is finding hard to seal for that purpose use puncture plugs they are essentially really small strips of rubber and it should take care of it.
Another scenario could be that over time you have lost it since the trail was not clean enough and it had many thorns or glass pieces on it which work through sealant pretty fast, for that you can refill it if it’s not been sitting in the tire for a long time like 3-4 months if it had not been then go ahead and add a little more amount to it.
One other scenario can be if you did maintenance on your bike and you are wondering if you should refill it or change it completely, for that case you can do both refill it or change it, it wont effect the efficiency of the sealant.
although i have covered almost every angle and aspect around sealnt and i have told you what to do what not to do but if at some point you think that its better or worse go with your instinct you should be as cacious about your things as you can since the tires are basically the biggest upgrade or expense we spend on our bikes.