You can buy traps from the factory and use them without dyeing, but it’s not recommended. They’ll start rusting quickly, causing poor performance, likelihood of failure, and a shorter life span. Traditionally, traps were dyed with tannins from the bark and/or boughs of certain trees. They were then dipped in wax. The dye provided a thin layer of protection by binding with and coating the outer layer of trap steel, and the wax further protected them from rusting. The process involved boiling the traps in the dye and dipping them in wax before storing for use. It’s labor intensive and time consuming, but very effective, and many trappers still do it the old fashioned way.
In recent decades, a new type of trap dye has emerged and is growing in popularity – cold dip. Several folks have formulated dyes that traps can be dipped in without boiling. They dyes coat traps well enough that waxing is not necessary. The result is a quick process that provides long term effective trap protection.
Andy Stoe’s Speed Dip is the most popular of the trap dyes and is sold by most trapping supply dealers. Speed Dip is mixed with lantern fuel or mineral spirits (gasoline also works). The fuel dilutes the concentrated dip to the required consistency and helps it properly adhere to traps. Traps are simply dipped in the dye, ensuring they are evenly coated, and hung to air dry. New traps must be cleaned of grease before dipping, and a light coating of rust also helps the dip adhere better.
Other companies have made cold dips for traps. Aaron’s Trap Dye was a popular, effective coating that’s no longer manufactured. “KBL Quick Dye” is produced by Kaatz Bros. Lures, provides a coating very similar to Aaron’s, and is capable of coating a brand new trap with factory grease, eliminating the need for grease removal (though it’s still recommended). Dakotaline makes a trap dye that’s mixed with water, not fuel, and has met with mixed reviews. Predator Control Group makes “Full Metal Jacket”, a clear coating designed for land traps.
Cold dips have gained popularity due to their simplicity of use, but still have some criticisms. Many feel that the gasoline-smell from the dips can repel wary predators like foxes and coyotes from land sets. In fact, some trappers only dip their water traps and use traditional dye on their land traps. Most experts believe that all gasoline smell will dissipate from dipped traps within a few weeks, given adequate ventilation. Regardless, it’s great that trappers nowadays have multiple options for dyeing and coating their traps.
I recently ordered some KBL Quick Dye from Kaatz Bros. Lures. I’m giving it a try because in addition to KBL supporting Trapping Today as a sponsor, I like the idea that they’ve developed an innovative product that dries well and coats factory-greased traps. I’ll let you know how it holds up over time. What’s your coating of choice?