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  1. #1
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    Talc vs. cornstarch

    I'm one of those who likes to coat inner tubes with powder. IME, it lubricates the tube/tire interface, reducing the chance of damage on installation, as well as minimizing the chance of the tube sticking to the tire after a long time in the heat.

    I've used talcum powder for a long time without problems, but talc is now getting scarce. Most baby powders (the cheapest and most readily available product) are now made mostly or entirely with cornstarch, because of the respiratory hazards associated with breathing the mineral-dust talc (this is a real thing, so I understand why the change was made).

    My question: does the cornstarch stuff work just as well for tires as talc? Is there any different chemical interaction with the rubber that's significant? I suspect there's no real difference, but I thought maybe there could be some informed (or uninformed but entertaining) opinion out there.
    Have you ever been to Electric Ladyland?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCavilia View Post
    I'm one of those who likes to coat inner tubes with powder. IME, it lubricates the tube/tire interface, reducing the chance of damage on installation, as well as minimizing the chance of the tube sticking to the tire after a long time in the heat.

    I've used talcum powder for a long time without problems, but talc is now getting scarce. Most baby powders (the cheapest and most readily available product) are now made mostly or entirely with cornstarch, because of the respiratory hazards associated with breathing the mineral-dust talc (this is a real thing, so I understand why the change was made).

    My question: does the cornstarch stuff work just as well for tires as talc? Is there any different chemical interaction with the rubber that's significant? I suspect there's no real difference, but I thought maybe there could be some informed (or uninformed but entertaining) opinion out there.
    I just bought some Johnson's Baby Powder last week (likely the easiest to find) and just looked at the bottle.
    "Igredients: Talc, Fragrance"

    And a quick google shows the same so I didn't just get some old stock.

    I can't help with the question but I think it's moot.

  3. #3
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    I've used cheap baby powder for years for the same purpose but never thought about looking at the ingredients listed. I don't coat the tube. I put it on the inner surface of the tire before mounting for just the same reasons. I never have any issues with tubes sticking to the tires when I go to change a flat.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    I just bought some Johnson's Baby Powder last week (likely the easiest to find) and just looked at the bottle.
    "Igredients: Talc, Fragrance"

    And a quick google shows the same so I didn't just get some old stock.

    I can't help with the question but I think it's moot.
    Interesting. I'll have to shop around more, I guess. Apparently they make both versions, but the chain drugstores I've checked around here seem to carry only the cornstarch type, both Johnson's and house-brand.

    Thanks.
    Have you ever been to Electric Ladyland?

  5. #5
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    Some use a blend as well. I used to use talc in my business and found cornstarch being added at least 20 years ago.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCavilia View Post
    Interesting. I'll have to shop around more, I guess. Apparently they make both versions, but the chain drugstores I've checked around here seem to carry only the cornstarch type, both Johnson's and house-brand.

    Thanks.
    Could be a State or local thing with different laws in different places? I got mine at CVS in Boston.

    I see an opportunity......baby power smuggling over State lines.

    But in all seriousness if can't find any and would like me to mail you a bottle of the talc version just let me know. That would be no problem. That is assuming it's still being sold locally here like it was last week.

  7. #7
    Russian Troll Farmer
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    Problem with starches are that when the get wet, they clump.
    "L'enfer, c'est les autres"

  8. #8
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    Too old to ride plastic

  9. #9
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    i carry my spare tubes in a ziplock style snack or sandwich bag. I shake a little powder (talc) into the bag before I stuff it in the saddle bag, Honestly talc is available almost anywhere around here and a container of powder is a lifetime supply, at least for me.
    Of course I'm sure...that doesn't mean I'm right.....

    "There's no sense being stupid unless you show it."

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  10. #10
    Russian Troll Farmer
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    Jeezus, half a kilo????? How many tires can one person do in a lifetime??
    "L'enfer, c'est les autres"

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by No Time Toulouse View Post
    Jeezus, half a kilo????? How many tires can one person do in a lifetime??
    That's only a little over a pound.... Lol
    Of course I'm sure...that doesn't mean I'm right.....

    "There's no sense being stupid unless you show it."

    "that was like trying to teach a goldfish how to play basketball over the phone."

  12. #12
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    Talc vs. cornstarch

    Why bother with talc anyway (except for latex tubes)? It interferes with patching and causes a puncture to leak faster, according to Jobst Brandt https://yarchive.net/bike/tire_talc.html

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mfdemicco View Post
    Why bother with talc anyway
    Because tubes tend to stick to the inside of the tire, and talc prevents that. Some would argue it reduces energy losses from the tire rubbing against the tube, but that seems to be a distinction without a difference. A little sandpaper roughening the tube before patching eliminates any tire patch adhesion issues from the talc.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mfdemicco View Post
    Why bother with talc anyway (except for latex tubes)? It interferes with patching and causes a puncture to leak faster, according to Jobst Brandt https://yarchive.net/bike/tire_talc.html
    Because I DO use latex tubes!


    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry Irons View Post
    Because tubes tend to stick to the inside of the tire, and talc prevents that. Some would argue it reduces energy losses from the tire rubbing against the tube, but that seems to be a distinction without a difference. A little sandpaper roughening the tube before patching eliminates any tire patch adhesion issues from the talc.
    In addition to roughing up the surface,I try to patch at the bench rather than on the road, so cleaning the patch site is easier. I find that using a bit of 99% isopropyl to clean the area and a bit of sand paper eliminates any problem with the bonding. I also clean the site with a bit of the glue as well. The extra 30 seconds is worth it to have patched tubes that don't fail.
    Of course I'm sure...that doesn't mean I'm right.....

    "There's no sense being stupid unless you show it."

    "that was like trying to teach a goldfish how to play basketball over the phone."

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by No Time Toulouse View Post
    Jeezus, half a kilo????? How many tires can one person do in a lifetime??
    I just looked at the thing of baby powder in the bathroom, 22 ounces, yeah, probably a lifetime supply
    Of course I'm sure...that doesn't mean I'm right.....

    "There's no sense being stupid unless you show it."

    "that was like trying to teach a goldfish how to play basketball over the phone."

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerry Irons View Post
    Because tubes tend to stick to the inside of the tire, and talc prevents that. Some would argue it reduces energy losses from the tire rubbing against the tube, but that seems to be a distinction without a difference. A little sandpaper roughening the tube before patching eliminates any tire patch adhesion issues from the talc.
    Coupla years ago I put a new tire on a bike; pulled the tube out of the old tire and used it in the new tire. I pumped up the tire but it was flat by the time I was ready for my ride. The tube was stuck fast enough to the tire that a hole ripped in it when I pulled it out of the old tire.

    You bet I use talc now.
    Too old to ride plastic

  17. #17
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    [QUOTE=mfdemicco;5251662]Why bother with talc anyway (

    Quote Originally Posted by velodog View Post
    Coupla years ago I put a new tire on a bike; pulled the tube out of the old tire and used it in the new tire. I pumped up the tire but it was flat by the time I was ready for my ride. The tube was stuck fast enough to the tire that a hole ripped in it when I pulled it out of the old tire.

    You bet I use talc now.


    Did that once... and ONLY ONCE!, And after the patch is cured, I dust the patch and associated glue overage with talc!
    Of course I'm sure...that doesn't mean I'm right.....

    "There's no sense being stupid unless you show it."

    "that was like trying to teach a goldfish how to play basketball over the phone."

  18. #18
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    what about using climber chalk, or baking soda? I've been using chalk forever because I have it

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by aclinjury View Post
    what about using climber chalk, or baking soda? I've been using chalk forever because I have it
    Chalk might make sense.
    I think baking soda dissolves with water though. I have seen moisture in tires the few times I've taken one off after riding in rain and maybe putting them on when it's really humid could make a difference. So baking soda might not make sense.

  20. #20
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    Thanks to all. Got it. CVS locally only had the cornstarch version, but Walgreen's had the all-talc.
    Have you ever been to Electric Ladyland?

  21. #21
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    Add me to the list of talc users. I have ha tubes adhere to the inside of tires so strongly that they rip when attempting to remove the tube- even with due care. My answer to Jobst is that 'vulcanizing' is not a necessary condition to damage a tube. And as far as talc speeding air loss after a puncture, I've had flats with & without talc and never noticed a difference

  22. #22
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    Can also use billiard talc, cheaper and prime.

    https://www.amazon.com/Silver-Cup-Bi.../dp/B005U4A9KW

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