We know from friends, mechanics, and an article we posted last week that mixing glitter or other particles in your sealant can help seal punctures. So why don’t mainstream manufacturers use these techniques? To find out, we reached out to Stan’s NoTubes and e*thirteen. We also pinged Orange Seal, but they declined to comment.
Mtbr: A number of our readers swear that adding glitter to tire sealant helps improve performance, have you tested this method or any other home brew recipes (such as uncooked rice)?
Stan’s NoTubes: There are a lot of things people can do to customize sealant for their unique needs. It’s all about tradeoffs. During our 15-plus years in business, we’ve tested hundreds, if not thousands of different sealant formulations. We’ve experimented with different particle types, liquid additives and bases, and we’ve varied the concentrations of each until we’ve arrived at our current commercially available formulas. What we make has to work well for everyone’s needs. That’s what we’ve spent so much time refining.
A tire sealant must balance puncture protection, longevity, compatibility while still being feasible to manufacture and distribute. For example, we could make a sealant that lasts much longer, but it wouldn’t seal as well; or we could make a sealant that would seal even larger holes, but it would be more difficult to install.
e*thirteen: Glitter is the easiest way for someone at home to get a particulate into their sealant that will assist with clogging holes. The shape and material (plastic) of glitter is pretty ideal for this. We at e*thirteen tested a lot of potential particulates in the development process, and glitter was one of the more effective. However, the stuff does not go away. In the case of a flat or tire burp, it would shoot out and stick all over our bikes and the trail, which really put the litter in glitter. We also experimented with a rice mixture, but it dried like glue. These trials helped us determine our primary goals for the final formula beyond efficacy; minimal environmental impact and easy clean-up.
Mtbr: In your experience, is there ever a case where adding glitter or another material might help seal a persistent leak?
Stan’s NoTubes: We basically have our version of glitter (called sealing crystals) already in our sealants. We use a more refined particle that travels better, lasts longer and doesn’t clump as easily in the bottom of the bottle.
Our standard sealant has always used sealing crystals, while our newer Race Sealant, which was released publicly earlier this year, contains twice the number of normal sealing crystals as well as bigger XL crystals for sealing larger punctures. We tested everything out there before arriving at the crystals we use today.
Experimenting is how we came up with sealant in the first place, and that path is always there for those with the free time and a willingness to get a little messy. Or a lot messy. Just make sure you get some safety goggles, and don’t blame us if your science project goes awry.
e*thirteen: In our experience yes it’s effective but impractical, and we found something much better.