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How to dye and wax your traps
By Elizabeth Stephens*

Steps for dyeing (with logwood dye) and waxing your traps.

DYEING:

1. Wash all traps thoroughly with soapy water to remove factory grease or odors from a previous season. Rinse Well. For extremely rusty traps, take a steel wire brush to them lightly, or let them sit in vinegar overnight.

2. Leave them exposed outside for a week to allow a light coating of rust to return.

3. Add one pound of Logwood Dye to three to five gallons of water. One pound of logwood dye will easilly dye a couple dozen traps. I tend to buy it by five pounds and add it to ten gallons of water. This makes the dye a little thick, but it lasts longer and does more traps. Dye can be kept and used again over the course of a week or so if you can't do all of your traps in one day, and can be used as long as it doesn't mold. Bring to a rolling boil.

4. Turn down the heat to a low simmer. Make sure that you have a 'heat brick' on the bottom of your pot to prevent traps from resting directly on the bottom. Direct contact with heat can weaken metal springs. Lower your traps into the dye, and allow to simmer for one hour.

5. Remove and hang to dry. Allow to completely dry before proceeding to the waxing step.

NOTE: You can also allow your logwood dye to cool and "cold dye" your traps. This consists of letting your traps sit in the dye overnight before removing them the next morning. The benefit is you do not have to monitor the dyeing process (no fire to observe), but it takes longer. Keep in mind that just like when you sand a piece of wood prior to painting, you have to rust your traps before you dye them. Otherwise, the dye won't stick.

WAXING:

Waxing is important for a number of reasons. The first reason is that your trap will operate smoother. DO NOT WAX TRAPS THAT WILL BE USED FOR WATER SETS. Another benefit is odor control. You'll notice that the logwood dye has a very distinct salty-wood odor. That's fine for trapping, but too much of a good thing can still tip off the most wary of animals. The wax helps deaden the smell to a dull roar, so it blends easilly with loamy forest floors, or dry dusty fields. The third reason is that it helps protect your trap from salt, and other anti-freeze additives that attack and cause quicker corrosion of metal.

1. In a fry-daddy or small pot, melt five to ten pounds of odorless trap wax. Some companies carry refined trapping beeswax, to which it is recommended that you add an equal amount of paraffin. Some people buy the parafin at the grocery store (such as toilet bowl wax rings) and use that to wax their traps. Others say that beeswax smells like honey and that your traps will be dug up. I've used all of the mentioned techniques with no discernable difference in catch ratio or dig-outs. Wax is very flameable, and if a fire does take place, SMOTHER the fire with a lid. Do not throw water on the fire as you are asking for injury and trouble.

Fry-daddy's are nice to use because the temperature is easy to control, you don't need a lot of wax to fill one, and they come with a perfect lid for smothering in case of an accident. A small pot on a turkey-fryer does the trick as well though, just be sure to monitor your temperature to prevent a wax-fire.

2. Slowly dip your traps into the pot. Having a thin piece of rebar to slip your chain on that is long enough to go across the top of the pot and rest on the edges is helpful. The traps should be completely submerged in the wax, but not touching the bottom of the pot. Allow the traps to stay in the wax for a few minutes to allow the metal to heat up again.

3. Slowly remove the traps from the wax allowing them to drip and then hang them to dry. If your traps are hot enough, and the wax is properly applied, it should look like water running off the traps. Just a light coating of wax, not chunky. If your wax dries and it's chunky and chips, then chances are A: you used straight beeswax which is brittle. The parafin, or resin, gives it added laxity. Or B: you did not allow the traps to get hot enough before removing them from the wax.

4. Be sure to handle your traps with gloves from this point on, and store them in rubbermaid containers with a layer of leaves.

*Elizabeth Stephens is an avid trapper from Massachusetts and West Virginia.


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