Zip it Upby Captain Jim Barr on 10/16/12
This is more like a Martha Stewart helping hint than your traditional Blog post, but it is what it is. Being a saltwater angler first, and a fishing guide second, I am constantly plagued by "frozen zippers" on my gear bags, tackle bags, jackets- on and on. The effects of saltwater will in no time encrust a metal or plastic zipper and render it useless. I have destroyed many zippers trying to free them by all means gentle and persuasive and unless I am willing to spend hours with boiling water, pliers, WD-40, prayer, voodoo... my restoration efforts are only effective half the time, at best. I have, however, found a great solution apart from lubricating these blasted things every other day...who the heck has time for that?
Let's get to it. The remedy is broken down into two sections, Unlocking and Maintenance.
Unlocking: For a zipper that's encrusted and won't budge, I apply CLR- (right click and select open in a new window otherwise you will be permanently directed away from this website)(http://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/S-18419/Cleaning-Supplies/CLR-Calcium-Lime-and-Rust-Remover-1-Gallon?pricode=WU338&gadtype=pla&gclid=CMGxld2BhrMCFSpnOgodLXEAPg) full strength with a cue tip. CLR is the same stuff I use periodically to clean the water deposits in my bathtub. This product dissolves the salt deposits on a zipper head and the zipper teeth surrounding it in short order (give it ten minutes). Following the CLR treatment, rinse the zipper head with hot water and pick out the chunks of salt with a fly tying bodkin or needle. Then squirt a good dose of Starbrite Snap & Zipper Lubricant (right click and open in a new window, otherwise you will get permanently directed away from this website) (http://www.starbrite.com/productdetail.cfm?ID=1484&ProductCat=Marine&ProductSCat=Specialty%20Items&ProductSSCat=) into the zipper head and along the zipper track. This product can be purchased at West Marine for about $11 or you can probably get it direct from the manufacturer.
Maintenance: Once the zipper head is free and runs along the zipper track smoothly, I apply beeswax to the track. Beeswax is not your average paraffin candle wax. Beeswax is a natural wax secreted by honey bees when they construct their combs. I buy mine in cake form at West Marine- $12 (right click and open in a new window otherwise you will be permanently directed away from this website) http://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?productId=18524&catalogId=10001&langId=-1&storeId=11151&storeNum=50045&subdeptNum=50110&classNum=50113#.UH2eUWfhe4Y
Church candles (votive candles) are oftentimes made of beeswax and may be available through your place of worship (don't steal them and go to church while you're at it- it'll probably do you good and improve your catch rate.) Look around, you'll find a source. I take the wax cake and rub it up and down the zipper track vigorously, the heat generated by the friction softens the wax and it penetrates into the spaces between the zipper teeth and provides a clean, non-staining, non-toxic, and slippery quality that is very durable. If you reapply the wax every few weeks you should never have a problem with frozen zippers again.
So, like everything we as anglers need to protect and maintain from the effects of the harsh saltwater environment, be it our rods, reels, lines, boats etc.- careful maintenance of plastic and metal zippers on our gear will be made easier by these tips that have worked well for me.