Sealing Soft Wood Baits With Propionate

Propionate is shipped in dry pellet form. It dissolves in acetone or virgin lacquer thinner to form a waterproof base for dipping and sealing soft lure woods, like Balsa and Bass Wood. Once it is dissolved, the chemical will then penetrate the wood grain and raise it after the first dip or soak, it will dry quickly between your dips. This allows you to get your painting done in less time. Once the lure wood is treated with the Propionate, it will then strengthen the soft woods enough for sanding without adding any significant weight to the lure overall. Here is a quick set of handy instructions that will explain exactly how to use this additive. Note: Always, always follow the recommended safety precautions when you are handling chemicals, including the use of protective eyewear.

Items Needed To Start

  • Protective eyewear
  • Propionate dry pellets
  • Acetone or Virgin Lacquer Thinner, although it is not recommended
  • 2 16 oz. glass or mason jars with a wide mouth
  • Clip hangers and a hanger rack for drying

A Guide On How to Use Propionate as A Penetrating Sealer and Base Coat


  1. Fill one jar with 1 oz. of dry pellets of Propionate and fill the other jar with approximately 2 oz. of the dry pellets in the bottom.
  2. Fill each of the jars ¾ full with acetone, make sure you firmly screw the lid onto the jar and shake it for a while. (Up to 5 minutes or so, or count to your favourite number multiple times).
  3. Allow the pellets to dissolve completely in the acetone. This will take up to 3-5 days. However, if you don’t feel like sitting around your house to wait that long you can always speed it up by putting in a piece of unpainted metal and stirring every few hours, make sure you really dig into the clump at the bottom to break the Propionate, and then shake it some more. After it has dissolved completely, you should be left with a substance that is as thick as 2% milk in the first jar, and like thin honey in the second jar.


  1. Once you are ready to begin the sealing process in jar one, all of the eyelets and weights need to be in place on the lure either before or right after the first soaking. This step will ensure that your bait will be sealed tight and will prevent air from escaping while painting and fishing.
  2. Start by submerging your wood in the first jar for half an hour. In order to hold it down, you should twist a stiff wire into a spiral that will fit into the jar, once this is done make a tag on top to hold a few egg weights, and then place your new contraption on top of your wood. After the initial half an hour, you can now remove the wood and let it dry out until all of the vapours have dissipated. This part of the step will also take half an hour at the most. (If your piece of wood already has a lip slot cut, you will need to clean it out after each time you dip it, and before the lure dries. This can be done with a small piece of paper cut from a brown paper bag).
  3. Now that your wood is dry, or at least it should be by this step, you need to sand it lightly until your lure is nice and smooth on the surface.
  4. Next, give it another dip in the jar. Stir it around slowly until most of the bubbles stop coming out of the wood, and then hang it up to dry. This will take up to about 15 minutes.
  5. Once your wood dries again, dip it once more and wait for the bubbles to stop escaping. Once the bubbles have ceased, it goes back to hanging up to dry. (If your wood still has bubbles on the surface, then give it another nice light sanding).
  6. Once your wood has finally dried from its dips in the first jar, it is finally time to do the dance with the second jar. Since the concentration is higher in this jar, it will build a tougher base coat for your lure. Dip it in, swirl it around once or twice before you pull it out. Let the residual substance drip back into the jar for a few seconds before hanging it up to dry again.
  7. Repeat this process another eight times with this jar, and alternate between dipping it nose-first and tail-first.
  8. If you find a white cloudy substance on the surface of your lure after you finish dipping, don’t worry, you can wipe it away by dipping the corner of a cloth into acetone and wiping the surface of the wood in a circular motion until it clears. If the conditions are ideal, the dip will dry with a diamond like shine and clarity. For this to happen, the humidity needs to be low. A dehumidifier in the paint room can solve this problem).
  9. Guess what? Now you are all finished and proceed to paint your lure!

Here Are A Couple Final Tips for the Use of Propionate

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

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

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

The 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. In order to prevent this, take your new jar and add about 1 oz. of acetone to it, and put the lid on upside down overnight. When you open it the next day, the rubber ring will be softened. Wipe it or scrape it off as much as you can off. To get the rest of it off dip the corner of a rag in the acetone and wipe it clean.