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Some hunters prefer to allow new traps to rust before conditioning them.

  • Boil new traps in soapy water for 30 minutes to remove oil.
  • Rinse the traps.
  • Hang the traps outside until a light coating of rust forms (one to two weeks).
Boiling a trap

Traps should be dyed and waxed to condition them before they are used.

  • Before dyeing them, new and old foothold and bodygrip traps should be cleaned by boiling them in water. After cleaning, change the water. Add walnut hulls, evergreen boughs, maple bark, or logwood chips or crystals. Simmer traps long enough to give them a dark, dull, inconspicuous color (30 to 60 minutes). Wedge the trap chain ring between the trap jaws to dye the entire trap.
  • When the traps are sufficiently dyed, add a small amount of trap wax (two-thirds paraffin and one-third beeswax) to the hot water. Allow the wax to melt and form a thin layer on top of the water. Then slowly lift the traps from the liquid one at a time to give them a thin, even coating of wax. This light wax coating lubricates the trap and protects it from rust.
    • Do not wax bodygrip traps. Waxing makes these traps slippery and dangerous.
    • After waxing a foothold trap, use a file to clean off the ends of the dog and the pan notch. Otherwise, the trap will not stay set.

Other options for conditioning include using a petroleum-based dip, pure wax with no water, or acrylic floor wax.

  • Petroleum-based dips both dye and protect your traps. These products are fast and simple to use. Follow the directions given on the product. Do not dip the pads on padded-jaw foothold traps. Bodygrip traps may be dipped.
  • Pure wax (without water) may be used to coat your traps after cleaning and dying. Be very careful if you use pure wax. Wax can catch on fire or cause severe burns.
  • Acrylic floor wax also may be used after cleaning and dying your traps. This can be done at room temperature and is safe and easy.

To make cage traps less visible, spray paint them.

Cleaning and conditioning should be performed outdoors, if possible, away from household odors. Keep the wax and the container free of odors. Wear clean, odor-free gloves to hang prepared traps outdoors or in a shed away from human or pet odors.