Oiling Chips Done Right

Sadt3arz

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I won't profess to know everything about anything or anything about everything; but what I do know is I often research and test subject matter to the fullest extent possible to find the best results.

Using a combination of advices from numerous poker minds, I set myself up to test oiling of chips in a variety of ways--from wipe n dry, to dip n drip and oil and water dont mix except with chip tricks. Yada yada.

Well, with a number of mixed results, I discovered that most methods left the chips looking great--at first--then left them lacking thereafter (usually within 1-5 days). A number of factors playing--oil type, drying method, application method, etc.

Well, after much testing using just basic Milano China Clays (which aren't supposed to take oil as well as CPC or Paulsons), I believe I have discovered the best way to oil those chips and keep them that way afterward. I named this method: Compression Oiling. A mix of common methods with a touch of my own strategical experimentation and creativity.

Hopefully my step by step tutorial on Compression Oiling will help others who keep having trouble with their oiling, and it seeming like a waste of time. Yes, your oil and chips will dry out--unless you follow the instructions I'm about to present.

Without further delay, let's jump right in!

First, I am assuming by this point you have already removed the factory dust by wiping off your chips with warm water and a little Dawn dishwashing liquid--I used the pink hand lotion version as it helped tone down the clay smell also.

Here is the difference between factory shipped dust-covered chips next to unoiled cleaned chips with 2 oiled chips hiding within.
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Bear in mind, most of the tests I conducted for oiling made the chips shine for about a day and then they returned to the "clean" matte color on the right. That suggests that most people who oil all their chips collectively probably won't notice the dullness a day later as the chips will still look clean compared to factory dust-covered. Be not deceived. Unless done right, the oil is probably gone a couple days later (as all my tests proved)--you just can't tell without a comparison. There is a significant difference beyond clean chips and clean oiled chips retaining their sheen.

Here is an example of clean chips next to oiled chips done right and still holding their shine nearly a week later and showing no signs of fading.
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So, what do you need to get started after cleaning your chips?

You need a microfiber cloth, pure mineral oil (fragrance free), and chips! A flat surface covered with plain colorless paper towels is essential.
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Some will agrue here and say to use a shoe polish applicator or water/oil dip, etc. for speed and ease. To each their own. I tried every method I could find and none of them worked better than what I am going to share, so more on that further in. Meanwhile, I will point out that if you want something done right the first time, and not having to do it over, then effort and time is required to make it so.

A wise man once told me, "Adam, how come there is never enough time to first do something right, but there is always enough time to do it over?"

Let's do this right, folks!

First thing I am going to tell you is the oil does not hurt your adhesive stickers on Milanos. I can't speak for other chip stickers or inlays yet (I'd be cautious if the sticker is paper made), but to test, I left a Milano chip submerged in oil for a week and there is no discoloration of the plastic label or loosening of its adhesive seal. Myth busted.

Next, oil can be a little liberal if you're using microfiber cloth. I start by filling the oil cap and then massaging it into the cloth to form an oil spread 3 times the chip size. Do not use the baby oil--it is filled with evaporative agents. Do not use wax--it is petroleum-based. Use pure mineral oil. Walgreens has an excellent version shown above.
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The next step is something you wont read anywhere, and I had to learn it the hard way. I think it is the single most critical reason why everyone's oil keeps drying out. I will quickly trademark this rule as mine. We will call it the "Stibnite Seal n Shine©", all rights reserved 2016.

Working with polymers, seals, impregnators, densifiers, urethanes and other forms of coverants in my business, I am highly experienced when it comes to sealing off the microscopic pores of surfaces. One thing is for sure--in order to seal something with non-water based substances like oil, it requires compression. Wooden cutting boards, for example, must be press-oiled 2-5 times before they are sealed tight and ready to use.

In layman's terms, that means if you want this china clay chip sealed right with oil, then you must add pressure to seal and lock it in. Sorry shoe polish applicators and oil-water dips--your oiling method won't stand the test of time on China Clays. Plus, water/oil mixtures apply unevenly and leave a splotchy appearance on the chip faces. That said, however, because the higher end clays are more porous, those methods are more effective overall than they are on china clays, but compression oiling WILL still be far better and provide a uniform and lasting covering and seal.

What is compression oiling? Well, it is quite simple. It means you add pressure while oiling. Using one hand, hold the oiled microfiber cloth with three fingers and using the other hand, spin a single chip between your thumb, index and middle finger firmly--applying surrounding pressure to both faces and edge at the same time. You WILL feel the chalky substance peeling off (yes, AFTER having washed the chips already), and once the edge feels smoothened from both pressure and oil, it is done. Set it on the paper towel.
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Now, you've done this rack of 100 chips and the hard part is next. You must wait 24-48 hours. Air drying is the only way to let these seal and cure. Do NOT disturb them during the air dry process.

Now, to show you why compression is important during oiling, take a look at how much rough surface came off onto the microfiber rag during compression oiling AFTER these chips had been soap washed and dryed from the factory dust.
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Compression oiling smoothens the surface and edges and forces the oil deep into the pores of the clay that oil layering or dipping cannot achieve. It also makes them much better for shuffling, etc.

The next step is another factor you wont see in the instruction manuals of chip oiling. If you use plastic trays, then you should know that they, too, are porous microscopically. Yes, get that rag out and oil the inside of your trays also, and let them air dry for 1-2 days along side of your chips. You'll be glad you did, as the charge from the plastic can withdraw active oils from within the clay. Oops! Who'd thought their plastic trays were drying out their chips? Just seal them the same way.
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Now, after waiting a day or two, your anticipation is getting the best of you. Time to get those chips off of the paper towels and dry off the adhesive sticker. Do not wipe the edge and face of chips dry with the microfiber towel as this just needlessly dulls the chip and sucks out the oil--defeating the whole purpose for air drying. Just grab the chip and quickly swipe the sticker dry and clean only. I hold the chip on the edges and make a small central swirling motion with a pinch of the thumb and index finger to clean the sticker on both sides, and done. Then start putting your chips in stacks of 10. The oil should be properly air dried by this point anyhow. The oil on the sticker, however, will still be moist enough to wipe away since the sticker on Milanos is non-porous.
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Adhesive sticker is clean and intact!

Now, you have many oiled chips in stacks of 10 sitting there. Grab a stack and place it on your oiled microfiber cloth within your hand. Hold them evenly and firmly in place and roll the edges only--avoiding faces and stickers. The edges are far more porous and truly require this second coat, but the second coat does not require compression. During this step I did not re-oil the rag, but used the leftover, nearly dried oil from the day prior. No need to make this coating heavier than a simple brisk.
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Now, place the chip stacks right into the rack, as is, to air dry for another 12-24 hours. After air drying, take them out one last time and there will be a line of settlement oil that didn't absorb left on two sides of the chips where the rack made contact on the edges. Just use your fingers and wipe it away or massage it into the chip. Do not wipe them off with the microfiber. The trace amount is so insignificant that your skin will absorb it even if you just bust them out and play them at this point.
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Congratulations. Your chips are ready to play. Place them back into the racks and call your friends and enemies over.

After nearly a week, you can see clearly that these chips are holding their shine both in play and out of play.
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Unplayed compression oiled reds 6 days old next to clean unoiled reds.

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Oiled blacks oiled and played for 6 days and holding their shine without any signs of wear.


In conclusion, Compression Oiling is the way to go in my book. I am currently applying this method to the 1000 lot and looking forward to the difference it makes to these Milanos.

I hope you found this information and guide helpful to your oiling process.

Oiling Chips Done Right!


Update: September 5, 2016 (Two week mark)

After two weeks of rigorous play, these racks which were finished back on the 21st of August still look amazing. No chips have dried out or lost sheen. I used a more natural lighting and opposing background to capture the real look so they don't appear "too" shiney.

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Also, the shuffling ability of these chips after proper oiling is pretty solid. I can smack two stacks of 20 with both hands at the same time. I can't achieve this with most casino chips consistently.

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Very nice and comprehensive post. I never knew the reasoning being oiling chips. Seems very fine consuming if you have hundreds at a time. But the results look fantastic. You don't have a problem with the inlays (stickers) peeling off from the oil?

Does oiling make a huge difference with ceramics?
 

jcooper911

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Seems very fine consuming if you have hundreds at a time. But the results look fantastic. You don't have a problem with the inlays (stickers) peeling off from the oil?
Definitely worth the 2/3 hours on my 600 Milanos - they went from chalky and lifeless to bold and professional, as well as just feeling way better when used/riffling.
I also had zero issues with any of my Milano stickers on any of my chips, but YMMV...

Does oiling make a huge difference with ceramics?
Definitely do not oil ceramic chips, only clays. The chip with not absorb any of the oil and will just sit on the top and totally ruin your chips!
 

allforcharity

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It doesn't really take that long to oil chips. Just don't try to do 1000 in one batch. One or two hundred at a time. The oil shouldn't compromise the label at all. You're only using a teensy weensy bit of oil per chip, anyway.

No oil for ceramics or plastics. Won't do anything except make a huge mess.
 

Sadt3arz

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It doesn't really take that long to oil chips. Just don't try to do 1000 in one batch. One or two hundred at a time. The oil shouldn't compromise the label at all. You're only using a teensy weensy bit of oil per chip, anyway.

No oil for ceramics or plastics. Won't do anything except make a huge mess.
Good to know. I'm planning on buying my first set of expensive chips and looking for a low maintenance alt. Looks like ceramics are the way to go. Thanks for the info
 

Outkicked

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Has anyone tried this with CPC stock chips? If so did you experience the “bubble” effect on the logo from submerging them in water or were they ok?
 

Coyote

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CPCs are not meant to be baptized into water, only mildly showered and then wiped clean and left to dry, before being lightly oiled on the edges of barrels (20 chips).
Half a teaspoon of oil (absolute MAX) on a clean shoeshine applicator per 5 barrels (100 chips).
After that, you wipe them (almost) oil-dry with a soft cloth, with which, having amassed a little oil, you wipe the perimeter of the faces too, avoiding the inlays.

No oil on ceramics and plastics.
No oil on mint Paulsons.
Yes to oil on China Clays, as described in this tread.
Yes to oil on formerly filthy, harshly cleaned Paulsons.
Yes to oil on CPCs, after having been cleaned as above.

For the love of God, please someone make this common experience a sticky!:)
I hate posting anymore, out of fear of losing the "straight" status":LOL: :laugh:
 

Coyote

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Matter of taste. Not necessary for Paulsons IMO, while it certainlly is necessary for china clays and filthy chalky brand new CPCs; still it may not be "necessary" for any chip: I 've read here about people who prefer their CPCs covered in factory dust.
 

AWenger

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How often should we re-oil them? I have a set stored at the office that sure looks like it could use some oil again...
No set formula or guideline. Here's some findings from oiling/re-oiling my chips, even using the 'compression' method in this thread.
- if every few months, the chips are shuffled or used in a game, may not need to re-oil them at all. Oils from peoples hands will keep them looking oiled/saturated.
- some particular colors, and/or some particular chips will lose oil and dry out, especially if kept in a dry environment.
- Darker colors seem to dry out quicker, or look more dried out, especially medium/dark blue.
- I have barrels of different medium blue Paulsons from Aria, Bellagio, and others, and even with the 'compression' method, the blue chips dry out much faster. Some other colors keep the oiled, deeply saturated look much longer. I have a rack of medium green chips, which I'm not sure I've ever had to re-oil.
- a re-oiling may just need a very quick and light re-oiling of the edges of the barrels.

Good info in this thread. Does oiling affect the stacking of the chips at all?
Not at all in my experience -- assuming the chips are completely dried before stacking/racking them up. I've used a little too much oil before, and staked them before completely dry, and months later, there were a couple barrels where there was excess oil between the chips and the chips 'stuck' together. Just needed to wipe them with a towel and let them dry out individually before racking back up.
 
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longflop

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I've used a little too much oil before, and staked them before completely dry, and months later, there were a couple barrels where there was excess oil between the chips and the chips 'stuck' together. Just needed to wipe them with a town and let them dry out individually before racking back up.
I've done the same thing. A quick wipe down and they were good to go.
 

Altheman003

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No set formula or guideline. Here's some findings from oiling/re-oiling my chips, even using the 'compression' method in this thread.
- if every few months, the chips are shuffled or used in a game, may not need to re-oil them at all. Oils from peoples hands will keep them looking oiled/saturated.
- some particular colors, and/or some particular chips will lose oil and dry out, especially if kept in a dry environment.
- Darker colors seem to dry out quicker, or look more dried out, especially medium/dark blue.
- I have barrels of different medium blue Paulsons from Aria, Bellagio, and others, and even with the 'compression' method, the blue chips dry out much faster. Some other colors keep the oiled, deeply saturated look much longer. I have a rack of medium green chips, which I'm not sure I've ever had to re-oil.
- a re-oiling may just need a very quick and light re-oiling of the edges of the barrels.


Not at all in my experience -- assuming the chips are completely dried before stacking/racking them up. I've used a little too much oil before, and staked them before completely dry, and months later, there were a couple barrels where there was excess oil between the chips and the chips 'stuck' together. Just needed to wipe them with a towel and let them dry out individually before racking back up.
Cool, I’ve got some BCC chips coming in and was worried about the oiling affecting the stacking of he chips.
 

Lapoda

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I compression oiled my spirit mold china clays the first time and it made a significant difference. now, months later, I noticed they were getting a bit dull so I did @Trihonda's method and it pepped them right back up. The first time I oiled them, I'm glad I went with the compression method, it pulled a significant amount of gunk off the chips. The second time, I'm glad I did the oil and water, because I didn't feel like spending hours doing it. Long story short, they both work!
Agreed. I oiled several sample sets using a qtip and tediously oiling every bit and piece... took my half an hour to do a barrel. Pretty confident I'll just use the oil and water when I get my first set in.
 

allforcharity

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Agreed. I oiled several sample sets using a qtip and tediously oiling every bit and piece... took my half an hour to do a barrel. Pretty confident I'll just use the oil and water when I get my first set in.
This is being way too meticulous. I usually do a barrel in about 2-3 minutes, probably closer to the 2 on average.
 

Lapoda

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This is being way too meticulous. I usually do a barrel in about 2-3 minutes, probably closer to the 2 on average.
Granted I had never done it before. I just wanted to make sure I was getting them completely oiled because they were just sample set china clays...
 
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