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You are here: TackleMaking Encyclopedia > Articles > Using Propionate to Seal Soft Wood Baits
Using Propionate to Seal Soft Wood Baits
Special Thanks to "BigDeadRinger" for these great instructions. He offers Propionate for sale through eBay. If you're interested, you can contact him through the eBay message tool by clicking this link, logging into your eBay account, and then sending him a message. If he doesn't have any listed for sale right now, just shoot him a message and he'll put some up there so you can buy it!

Propionate ships in a dry pellet form, and will dissolve in acetone or virgin lacquer thinner to form a waterproof base for dipping and sealing soft lure woods like Balsa and Bass Wood. Once dissolved, the chemical will penetrate and raise the wood grain after the first dip/soak and will dry very quickly between dips, allowing you to get to your painting steps in less time. Once treated, the propionate will also strengthen soft woods for sanding without adding significant weight to the overall lure. Here's a quick set of instructions that explain how to use this additive. NOTE: Always follow recommended safety precautions when handling chemicals, including the use of protective eyewear.

Items needed to start
- Protective Eyewear
- Propionate pellets
- Acetone (or Virgin Lacquer Thinner, not recommended)
- (2) 16 oz. glass jars with wide mouths. (Mason jars work good)
- Clip hangers and hanger rack for drying

Steps to make and use propionate as a Penetrating Sealer/Base coat

Fill jar 1 with approximately 1 oz. of pellets and fill jar 2 with approximately 2 oz. of pellets in the bottom.
2) Fill each jar 3/4 full with acetone, firmly screw the top onto the jar, and shake for a while. (five minutes or so)
3) Allow the pellets to completly dissolve in the acetone. This will generally take between 3 to 5 days, but you can spead this up by stirring with a piece of unpainted metal, and shaking every few hours or so. When stirring dig into the clump at the bottom of the jar to break the propionate up then shake. After it is completely dissolved your solutions should be as thick as 2% milk in jar 1, and like warm honey (thin honey) in jar 2.

Now you are ready to soak your wood in jar 1 to penetrate and seal the pores in the woo, and raise the grain. All eyelets and weights should be in place on the lure either before or just after the first soak (this will insure your bait will be sealed tight and prevent air escaping while painting and water entering while fishing)

1) Start by submerging your wood into jar 1 for 30 minutes (and not longer than 6 hours). To hold it down, twist a stiff wire into a spiral that will fit the jar, make a tag on top to hold a few egg weights, and place the contraption on top of your wood. After the wood has soaked for 30 minutes, remove it and let it dry untill all vapors are gone. This should only take about 30 minutes at the most. (If you already have the lip slot cut, you'll need to clean the slot after each dip and before the lure dries. This can be done with a small piece of paper cut from a brown paper bag.)

After the wood dries, lightly sand the lure to smooth to smooth the surface.

3) Next will be another quick dip into jar one. Stir it around slowly until most of the bubbles stop coming out of the wood. Hang dry (about 15 min.).

4) After the wood dries, dip into jar 1 again, wait for bubbles to stop escaping again, and hang dry. (If your wood has bubbles on the surface, after it dries then give it a light sanding).

5) After the second quick dip dries, you're ready to start dipping into jar 2. The higher concentration in jar 2 will build a tough base coat for your lure. Dip it in swirl it around once or twice and pull it out. Let it drip back into the jar for a few seconds and hang to dry.

Repeat the dip and dry process about 8 times in jar 2, alternating your dipping between nose-first and tail-first.

7) If there is a white cloudy surface on your lure after you finish dipping, you can remove it by dipping the corner of a cloth into acetone and wiping the wood's surface in a circular motion until the propionate is clear. (In ideal conditions the dip will dry with a diamond-like shine and clarity. For this to happen, the humidity needs to be low. A dehumidifier in their paint room could solve this problem.)

8) You're done! Proceed with your lure painting...

A couple of final tips for propionate…

Keep a jar of super thick mixture on hand. Add it to the thin mixture as needed to keep the right consistency.

To get the absolute best finish, use a very thin mixture and more dips. With the thin jar, you'll get better cover and a very smooth finish with just a few extra dips. Drying time is faster and any bubbles that may be on the bait will pop easier when it is removed from the jar to drip.

To make the super thick jar, add about 1 part pellets and 4 parts acetone. This takes longer to dissolve but it will stay ready to add to your thin jar any time you need to refill. All you need to do is add about 1 part thick and about 3 to 4 parts acetone. Just a light stir will mix it in.

From what I have found Wide Mouth Mason jars work the best. The acetone can cause the rubber seal under the lid to dissolve and fall into the jar of your mix. To prevent this, take you new jar and add about 1oz. of acetone to it and put the lid on and turn it upside down over night. When you open it, the rubber ring will be softened. Wipe or scrape off as much as you can off. To get the rest off, dip the corner of a rag in acetone and wipe it clean.

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