White Spirit v Meths

Jamey
Jamey Posts: 2,152
edited December 2008 in Workshop
When it comes to cleaning chains (using the 'remove from bike and immerse in bath of cleaner' method) is there any real difference between methylated spirit and white spirit?

Comments

  • alfablue
    alfablue Posts: 8,497
    This has turned out to be controversial on threads on here. I, KMC and Sheldon Brown are of the opinion that "deep cleaning" chains with solvents is a bad idea as it removed factory lube from deep inside the chain links and leads to more wear and more noise. A few forum members have shouted me down for this view, however, so who knows, but I have given up such practices and everything seems fine, runs quiet, and lasts for many many miles.
  • softlad
    softlad Posts: 3,513
    in the sense that both will probably clean your chain, then no - there is no difference. White spirit is petroleum-based, so in a way it would make more sense to use that.

    Petrol is probably cheaper..??
  • Jamey
    Jamey Posts: 2,152
    Right, before this gets out of hand quickly I want to state very clearly that this thread is *NOT* for the discussion of cleaning methods whatsoever.

    Some people clean the chain on the bike with a quick wipe down... That's fine.

    Other people remove the chain and soak it in solvent... That's also fine.

    What I'm asking is this...

    ASSUMING that you use the 'soak in solvent' method, would there be any difference between soaking it in meths and soaking it in white spirit?
  • alfablue
    alfablue Posts: 8,497
    Apologies for discussing the method! :oops: I tend to believe it is helpful to mention pro's and cons related to someone's proposed maintenance technique! And as you are a maintenance newbie, apparently, I thought it might be to your benefit. Sorry.
  • Jamey
    Jamey Posts: 2,152
    It's cool, I appreciate people feel strongly about these things but my question is purely about the differences between the two solvents and I didn't want the thread to get sidetracked as there are plenty of discussions on this forum already about chain cleaning.
  • redddraggon
    redddraggon Posts: 10,862
    I use whatever I have lying around to clean my chain...so it could be:

    1. Turps
    2. White Spirit
    3. WD40
    4. 3in1 Oil (Aerosol)
    5. Meths

    I find all do roughly the same job.

    (Obviously I use proper chain lube once I dried the chain off)
    I like bikes...

    Twitter
    Flickr
  • I find meths has a more pleasing aftertaste and is less harsh on the old throat.

    Oh sorry... carry on.
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

    @gietvangent
  • I'm not sure this helps answer your question but:

    Meths is ethanol, to which is added methanol or methyl isobutyl ketone to render it undrinkable (thus avoiding duty issues for using ethanol as a fuel). A purple dye and a taste-fouling chemical are added to stop you drinking the methanol...

    White spirit is a petroleum distillate, i.e. from the same family as petrol, diesel and paraffin; mixture of CnHm hydrocarbons, in this case, towards the heavier molecular weight (paraffin) end.
    'Hello to Jason Isaacs'
  • Jamey
    Jamey Posts: 2,152
    Well that's good to know, thank you :)

    But yes, I'm basically concerned with which one shifts more grease from a chain that's submerged in it.
  • softlad
    softlad Posts: 3,513
    Jamey wrote:

    But yes, I'm basically concerned with which one shifts more grease from a chain that's submerged in it.

    like I said in my first reply - I would lean more towards the white spirit, because of its oil-based origin.

    Alternatively (like I also said), why not use petrol. Its what I use and its probably cheaper litre for litre...
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    I wouldn't use petrol purely from a safety perspective and it's volatility.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • balthazar
    balthazar Posts: 1,565
    It is easy to show yourself that both solvents clean chains adequately, just by using them: on different chains, or the same chain at different times. A clean chain will leave the last submersion (of either) practically uncontaminated. It takes a few changes of solvent either way.

    The intention is to remove the grinding paste from inside the chain, which does not mean aiming for operating theatre levels of cleanliness. Water does the job quite well, as those of us who've ridden in heavy rain have found out.
  • softlad
    softlad Posts: 3,513
    Monty Dog wrote:
    I wouldn't use petrol purely from a safety perspective and it's volatility.

    its fine, so long as you put your fag out before you start... ;)

    Seriously, cleaning a chain in a plastic tub with some petrol and a stiff brush is not exactly 'living on the edge'...
  • Barrie_G
    Barrie_G Posts: 479
    I've used both in the past and found the white spirit to be faster working and better at cleaning away any build up of gunk around the links edges, so if I was to be cleaning a chain using this method then I would use the white spirit.

    Though nowadays I just tend to clean the outside with a cloth sprayed with WD40 or some such to clean and then use a wet lube for lubrication.
  • When i was i boy.......

    Hold on here we go, white spirit will shift the dirt quicker than meths, do'nt no why, it just does. but i'm with alfablue these days, quick wipe down with a rag with a bit of deagreaser on it does me fine.
  • aracer
    aracer Posts: 1,649
    softlad wrote:
    Seriously, cleaning a chain in a plastic tub with some petrol and a stiff brush is not exactly 'living on the edge'...
    Not in the short term maybe, but particularly given what is in modern UL petrol, not that great for your health in the long term. I'd certainly not use petrol for anything other than it's intended purpose nowadays.

    Trouble with water (as suggested by somebody else) is that it doesn't work as a solvent on the grease. Yes it washes it out over the course of an hour or so's ride, but I don't particularly want to spend an hour cleaning my chain! Can't really help on the original question, as I tend to use degreaser (and yes I do deep clean my chain with it).
  • wilwil
    wilwil Posts: 374
    Why not use citrus solvent?
  • softlad
    softlad Posts: 3,513
    aracer wrote:
    Not in the short term maybe, but particularly given what is in modern UL petrol, not that great for your health in the long term. I'd certainly not use petrol for anything other than it's intended purpose nowadays.

    Technically, I'm guessing you are probably correct, but I can't help thinking that is an over-reaction. Realistically, its unlikely to be any worse than using white spirit, meths (which contains methanol - which can cause blindness and death) or other celloluse solvents, many of which can do you much more harm...

    Besides, I run a couple of competition motorcycles, so there's always a few litres of the stuff to hand...
  • aracer
    aracer Posts: 1,649
    softlad wrote:
    aracer wrote:
    Not in the short term maybe, but particularly given what is in modern UL petrol, not that great for your health in the long term. I'd certainly not use petrol for anything other than it's intended purpose nowadays.

    Technically, I'm guessing you are probably correct, but I can't help thinking that is an over-reaction. Realistically, its unlikely to be any worse than using white spirit, meths (which contains methanol - which can cause blindness and death) or other celloluse solvents, many of which can do you much more harm...
    Though most of those don't do you much / any harm if you inhale some fumes (cellulose solvents are a different matter, but nobody has suggested using those for cleaning chains), only if you drink / absorb them, whilst UL contains stuff which is carcinogenic if inhaled. Petrol also generates a lot more of these harmful fumes in the first place. Not worth the risk to save a few pennies.
  • rally200
    rally200 Posts: 646
    I'm with the majority view - why spend time you could useriding/sleeping/drinking meths immersed in an atmoshpere of volatile, flammable chemicals just to stuff your chain. Just give it a wipe and buy a new one occasionally.
    Even if you do believe the in the efficacy of laborious chain cleaning regimes, think of your leisure time in terms of what you could earn at work £/hr - have fun now - buy chain & cassette later.
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Unleaded petrol also contains benzene - the last thing you want to be splashing around on your skin. These days I tend to wipe my chain down with a rag soaked with WD40. The TiNitride coating on KMC chains is also far more corrosion resistant to corrosion too.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • John.T
    John.T Posts: 3,698
    What is wrong with using parafin. Much cheaper than white spirit or meths. Not as volatile as petrol and does not contain as many dangerous ingredients. About the same price. Does the job fine.
  • Jamey wrote:
    When it comes to cleaning chains (using the 'remove from bike and immerse in bath of cleaner' method) is there any real difference between methylated spirit and white spirit?

    Look, methilated spirits is alcohol and white spirit is pretty much pertol, the latter is better at dissolving grease, as such it will clean better but remove all the oil and grease. Up to you, I think it's pointless to have a discussion about degreasers, let's leave them to the cleaners
    left the forum March 2023
  • John.T
    John.T Posts: 3,698
    Meths is not really a solvent and evaporates too fast to do any good anyway. Is also ridiculously expensive to use for cleaning.
  • Muc-off chain cleaner, old(or ex-girlfriend's) toothbrush, and then finish off with a vertical downward blast from the hosepipe on a fast jet.
    Almost sexual.
  • Saturn
    Saturn Posts: 628
    Isn't diesel supposed to be better than either?

    I use white spirit but just because it's handy and cheap.
    <font size="1">May all your tail winds be up-drafts</font id="size1">