Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

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Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#1 Post by Alex Rychlewski »

It happened again today.
I went to open a bottle of 2018 Bierzo from Veronica Ortega.
Damnation, wax capsule.

Chip away, make a mess, necessarily leave some on the outside of the bottle.
Wipe away the bits that inevitably remain around – and on the inside of – the neck of the bottle.


Why, oh why do producers do this?
I see no positive side whatsoever. Do you?

It cab be pointed out that there are supple wax capsules. Although useless, these are admittedly much easier to remove. But, hell, other than standing out for marketing purposes, I see no justification.

If tradition is the answer, I’d say that there are good and bad traditions, and that this is one of the latter.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#2 Post by Chris Crutchfield »

Why are you chipping at the wax? Just stick the corkscrew in and open like you would a normal bottle.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#3 Post by john stimson »

Or, just put a hot washcloth around the very top of the capsule for 20 sec, and the wax becomes soft and just peels off.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#4 Post by Andrew Gold »

I agree with the OP, no upside regardless how one approaches dealing with the wax.

The most recent Dunn release is shifting to wax on only larger format bottles, I was very pleased to read.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#5 Post by Alex Rychlewski »

Mess, mess, and mess.

WHat *is* the point?

Drilling through hard wax with a silicon-coated corkscew not good either.

AR

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#6 Post by Sean S y d n e y »

Zero upside, and as someone who works on a restaurant floor it's incredibly frustrating to try to open it at a table and watch it rain down/have to pick or wipe it off/get stuck.

End wax tyranny.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#7 Post by M. Meer »

True, no real way around some mess.

I usually open it over the sink if I have access to one, pull the cork up slightly, blow or wipe away the particles, and trim extra wax if I think it will get inside the bottle or interfere with pouring.

Not many bottles left with hard wax for me, save for Puffeney, so I don't quite mind the hassle to get to the juice. The only other one I would knowingly buy would be Raveneau, and that ain't happening soon 😅.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#8 Post by Jeff_M. »

I opened a Saxum JBV White earlier this week with a wax capsule and got it off the bottle without any issues. While I don't like the extra work to open the cork, not all wax closures are super messy.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#9 Post by Michael Martin »

If you are chipping or cutting, you are doing it wrong.
Stick the corkscrew into the center of the top, give it a slight pull, the center of the wax top should break. You can then continue to pull it out or if it’s an older bottle, you can insert an ahso at this point.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#10 Post by Alex Rychlewski »

Michael,

What I'm asking is why make things more complicated than they need to be?

AR

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#11 Post by larry schaffer »

This is all for the look and the perceived value. I do kind of like really big bottles!
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#12 Post by Michael Martin »

Alex Rychlewski wrote: August 6th, 2021, 11:08 am Michael,

What I'm asking is why make things more complicated than they need to be?

AR
Maybe we could just have white paper labels with black print too. [snort.gif]

It’s wine. It tells a story in many ways. Some stories are more complex than others.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#13 Post by Vince T »

Pulling it directly through the wax capsule is not foolproof. In multiple cases, I've had the cork break while trying to pull directly through wax, as the wax was too tough to give way to the cork fully. I watched one friend try this on an older bottle (2001 burg, not even that old), and his corkscrew shredded the center of the cork creating an unholy mess of little bits falling into the bottle.

The hot water treatment also only works on younger softer wax capsules - it doesn't do much good on old crusty curmudgeon wax.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#14 Post by Alex Rychlewski »

Michael,

You wrote "t’s wine. It tells a story in many ways. Some stories are more complex than others"

Could you kindly explain why a wax capsule adds to a wine's complexity, makes its story more meaningful?

I'm really puzzled by that comment.

TIA,
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#15 Post by Dale Williams »

Multiple threads about this. Some producers (PYCM and Lamy in St Aubin come to mind) believe that the wax is an added edge in fight against premox.
I don't have the technical chops to know if that is based on science, but I have found those wines have a good track record. Personally I don't think it takes me any longer to open their wines than those with a traditional capsule.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#16 Post by Hal Blumberg »

I assumed that there was a storage/anti-premox advantage as Dale pointed out. Part of this assumption is due to some wineries using wax on their high-end wines but not on their entry level wines.

Cheers,

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#17 Post by Tom R W »

Agree with those who stick the corkscrew straight through the wax and open as if the wax wasn't there. Easiest way I've found.

I think it looks cool, but could take it or leave it.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#18 Post by Richard Foxall »

Dale Williams wrote: August 6th, 2021, 12:24 pm Multiple threads about this. Some producers (PYCM and Lamy in St Aubin come to mind) believe that the wax is an added edge in fight against premox.
I don't have the technical chops to know if that is based on science, but I have found those wines have a good track record. Personally I don't think it takes me any longer to open their wines than those with a traditional capsule.
I would love to see what impact it has on premox with hard data.

At least a couple of my favorite winemakers (Halcon, Kyric) are not using capsules at all. I am all in favor of getting rid of them until someone can convince me they really make a difference.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#19 Post by Alex Rychlewski »

Dale,

Sorry if this has already been debated previously on the forum.

If wax capsules help fight against premox, I'd be very interested to hear if there is any reason for this. It sounds kind of off-the-wall.

You say that you take no longer to open wine with wax capsules than any other kind. With the soft wax, I can believe it. But, I promise you, if you were confronted with the one I took off today, it wasn't like that.

Alex R.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#20 Post by Michael Martin »

Alex is bored today.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#21 Post by John Glas »

Chris Crutchfield wrote: August 6th, 2021, 9:29 am Why are you chipping at the wax? Just stick the corkscrew in and open like you would a normal bottle.
Still wax gets in the bottle. Tried it on several occasions. [swearing.gif]

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#22 Post by John Glas »

Alex Rychlewski wrote: August 6th, 2021, 10:11 am Mess, mess, and mess.

WHat *is* the point?

Drilling through hard wax with a silicon-coated corkscew not good either.

AR
There is no point except maybe a winery thinks it looks cool and will sell more wine.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#23 Post by larry schaffer »

Hal Blumberg wrote: August 6th, 2021, 12:35 pm I assumed that there was a storage/anti-premox advantage as Dale pointed out. Part of this assumption is due to some wineries using wax on their high-end wines but not on their entry level wines.

Cheers,

Hal
#marketing
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#24 Post by JViolini »

Upside - It looks cool
Downside - It can make a mess

Basically...pointless
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#25 Post by Eric LeVine »

Michael Martin wrote: August 6th, 2021, 11:00 am If you are chipping or cutting, you are doing it wrong.
Stick the corkscrew into the center of the top, give it a slight pull, the center of the wax top should break. You can then continue to pull it out or if it’s an older bottle, you can insert an ahso at this point.
OK. Not so great for a Coravin though...
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#26 Post by Michael Martin »

Eric LeVine wrote: August 6th, 2021, 12:56 pm
Michael Martin wrote: August 6th, 2021, 11:00 am If you are chipping or cutting, you are doing it wrong.
Stick the corkscrew into the center of the top, give it a slight pull, the center of the wax top should break. You can then continue to pull it out or if it’s an older bottle, you can insert an ahso at this point.
OK. Not so great for a Coravin though...
Or if it’s a waxed screw top. [snort.gif]
Last edited by Michael Martin on August 6th, 2021, 1:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#27 Post by Michael Martin »

There are a lot little things a winery will do to make a bottle appear higher end and possibly add to the romance of ownership: tissue wrapped bottles, wood cases, heavy bottles, foil or embossed labels, temperature sensors, odd shaped bottles, embossed glass and long corks to name a few. Some of these create a certain hassle as well, waste too and no one seems to complain. Wax is just another way to differentiate a bottling.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#28 Post by Jonathan Loesberg »

If there is an easy way to use a Durand with a wax capsule, I'd like to hear it. I routinely use a Durand on any bottle 20 years or older (percentage of older corks that break is quite high) and on any other bottle on which the cork looks questionable. And, as Alex says, you can't just crack older, crusty wax with a quick puncture of the worm. I am with the anti-waxxers.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#29 Post by Adam Frisch »

I have white labels with black text. My blue (and very pliable wax, I should add) is a graphic accent. It's the only color I have and it was carefully designed that way by a designer. Design matters.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#30 Post by larry schaffer »

Michael Martin wrote: August 6th, 2021, 12:58 pm
Eric LeVine wrote: August 6th, 2021, 12:56 pm
Michael Martin wrote: August 6th, 2021, 11:00 am If you are chipping or cutting, you are doing it wrong.
Stick the corkscrew into the center of the top, give it a slight pull, the center of the wax top should break. You can then continue to pull it out or if it’s an older bottle, you can insert an ahso at this point.
OK. Not so great for a Coravin though...
Or if it’s a waxed screw top. [snort.gif]
Dont temp me . . . [snort.gif]

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#31 Post by M. Meer »

Jonathan Loesberg wrote: August 6th, 2021, 1:10 pm I am with the anti-waxxers.
[rofl.gif]
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#32 Post by Rick Bollig »

Adam Frisch wrote: August 6th, 2021, 1:15 pm I have white labels with black text. My blue (and very pliable wax, I should add) is a graphic accent. It's the only color I have and it was carefully designed that way by a designer. Design matters.
Your wines don’t stick around long enough for the wax to harden, at least not in my house!

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#33 Post by Doug Schulman »

Alex Rychlewski wrote: August 6th, 2021, 9:15 am But, hell, other than standing out for marketing purposes, I see no justification.

If tradition is the answer, I’d say that there are good and bad traditions, and that this is one of the latter.
So, same category as cork.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#34 Post by Lee Short »

John Glas wrote: August 6th, 2021, 12:44 pm
Chris Crutchfield wrote: August 6th, 2021, 9:29 am Why are you chipping at the wax? Just stick the corkscrew in and open like you would a normal bottle.
Still wax gets in the bottle. Tried it on several occasions. [swearing.gif]
Pull the cork out 80% of the way, remove the corkscrew, clean off the wax bits, then finish pulling the cork with your fingers.

Never failed me, but might be problematic if the cork is soft. But I haven’t seen that happen, even on older bottles. Don’t know if the wax helps protect the cork.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#35 Post by William Segui »

larry schaffer wrote: August 6th, 2021, 11:13 am This is all for the look and the perceived value. I do kind of like really big bottles!
Large format bottles often have larger neck/openings. Which require different sized capsules. Have you seen the minimum order for capsules lately (7,000 - 10,000)? Wax is often the only way to get a finished look on a non-traditional package.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#36 Post by Richard Albert »

For the hard messy, crumbly wax, I put a single layer of a towel over the bottle and gently rap it with a tablespoon, straight down and from the side on the edges of the bottle top. Remove the towel, then put the screw in through the middle of the cork and pull up partially--there is less wax on the bottle to deal with. You can rap on the wax still clinging to the bottle before you pull the cork all the way out.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#37 Post by Philip N. Jones »

Perhaps I missed something in this thread, but I simply use a sharp knife to slice off the wax even with the top of the glass. Then I use a corkscrew. Works well and looks good the few times I have done it.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#38 Post by PaulMills »

I have bought beers with wax over the cap. Why?!?

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#39 Post by Arv R »

What you don't like my classy cadre?!

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#40 Post by RickieM »

I just had a bottle with a wax capsule a few days ago and what a pain. I put the corkscrew through the wax and pulled the cork out easily, but the wax broke into little pieces and fell all over the counter. Then little chips were around the opening so I had to carefully clean those away so that nothing would fall into the bottle. Some wax is more pliable than others, and this one wasn't pliable at all. Producer was Bachelet-Monnot. Wax is nothing but a pain to deal with and doesn't impress me in the least.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#41 Post by Robert.A.Jr. »

Alex Rychlewski wrote: August 6th, 2021, 11:08 am Michael,

What I'm asking is why make things more complicated than they need to be?

AR
So you can charge more!

I’m a cyclist, so I like waxing!
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#42 Post by PaulMills »

Robert.A.Jr. wrote: August 6th, 2021, 3:55 pm
So you can charge more!

I’m a cyclist, so I like waxing!

Um, I just shave. Much easier and less painful.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#43 Post by Robert.A.Jr. »

PaulMills wrote: August 6th, 2021, 4:14 pm
Robert.A.Jr. wrote: August 6th, 2021, 3:55 pm
So you can charge more!

I’m a cyclist, so I like waxing!

Um, I just shave. Much easier and less painful.
Pain is commitment to cycling. Don’t be a wuss.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#44 Post by PaulMills »

Robert.A.Jr. wrote: August 6th, 2021, 4:44 pm
PaulMills wrote: August 6th, 2021, 4:14 pm
Robert.A.Jr. wrote: August 6th, 2021, 3:55 pm
So you can charge more!

I’m a cyclist, so I like waxing!

Um, I just shave. Much easier and less painful.
Pain is commitment to cycling. Don’t be a wuss.

:)

Calling me out like a boss! I will toughen up and start waxing tomorrow. Maybe I will start with my toes.

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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#45 Post by Cris Whetstone »

Vince T wrote: August 6th, 2021, 12:10 pm Pulling it directly through the wax capsule is not foolproof. In multiple cases, I've had the cork break while trying to pull directly through wax, as the wax was too tough to give way to the cork fully. I watched one friend try this on an older bottle (2001 burg, not even that old), and his corkscrew shredded the center of the cork creating an unholy mess of little bits falling into the bottle.

The hot water treatment also only works on younger softer wax capsules - it doesn't do much good on old crusty curmudgeon wax.
Vince nails it. Aiming for the middle with a corkscrew is the best you can do but it doesn't work every time. If the wax is of some age it just crumbles. Good luck keeping every but out of the bottle. It's pretty much impossible once it becomes hard and brittle.

Using it to combat premox must be some sort of joke. Producers blaming enclosures for premox feels like politicians suddenly stirring up a faux crisis when a scandal breaks. Maybe the producers that have avoided premox all these years have been paying extra to have their corks treated with pixie dust?
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#46 Post by William Kelley »

Cris Whetstone wrote: August 6th, 2021, 4:52 pm Maybe the producers that have avoided premox all these years have been paying extra to have their corks treated with pixie dust?
rolleyes
How numerous are they? I can think of at best three or four in Burgundy. And they work with the best corks money can buy, use very high levels of free SO2, and in some cases wax as well.

White Burgundy was definitely rendered more fragile by changes in winemaking, grape growing, and, to a lesser extent, climate; but it would be a mistake to think that the closure isn't critical. Had closures been superb and consistent, we would have seen an arguably unfortunate stylistic change, rather than the total collapse of a genre.

If you pick the right wax, it does seem that it enhances the seal. It is worth noting that, in the days of lead capsules, any seepage would react with the lead, creating salts that, if you will, almost "cauterized" the bleed. I'm sure people who have opened bottles with lead capsules have noticed this. Tin/aluminum are notably inferior to lead in this respect. So just from a technical perspective, wax is the best of the options that are legal today. It also happens to be cheaper, more ecologically friendly, and doesn't require the expense of a custom capsule adapted to non-standard bottle shapes.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#47 Post by D@vid Bu3ker »

Feel free to send all wax coated bottles to me. I will suffer for you all.
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#48 Post by Rodrigo B »

William Kelley wrote: August 6th, 2021, 5:04 pm So just from a technical perspective, wax is the best of the options that are legal today. It also happens to be cheaper, more ecologically friendly, and doesn't require the expense of a custom capsule adapted to non-standard bottle shapes.
When you say cheaper is that on just the materials costs or does that include the labour in dipping the bottles on wax?
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#49 Post by William Kelley »

Rodrigo B wrote: August 6th, 2021, 5:11 pm
William Kelley wrote: August 6th, 2021, 5:04 pm So just from a technical perspective, wax is the best of the options that are legal today. It also happens to be cheaper, more ecologically friendly, and doesn't require the expense of a custom capsule adapted to non-standard bottle shapes.
When you say cheaper is that on just the materials costs or does that include the labour in dipping the bottles on wax?
Material cost. I think total cost would depend if you have employees free to wax bottles when there would otherwise not be much to do, or if you have to hire folks. As one domaine in Chablis responded to an offer for a waxing machine (these are now a commercial proposition from Fichet), "but if we didn't wax by hand, what would we do in the winter?"
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Re: Why I (really, really) don't like wax capsules

#50 Post by Cris Whetstone »

William Kelley wrote: August 6th, 2021, 5:04 pm
Cris Whetstone wrote: August 6th, 2021, 4:52 pm Maybe the producers that have avoided premox all these years have been paying extra to have their corks treated with pixie dust?
rolleyes
How numerous are they? I can think of at best three or four in Burgundy. And they work with the best corks money can buy, use very high levels of free SO2, and in some cases wax as well.

White Burgundy was definitely rendered more fragile by changes in winemaking, grape growing, and, to a lesser extent, climate; but it would be a mistake to think that the closure isn't critical. Had closures been superb and consistent, we would have seen an arguably unfortunate stylistic change, rather than the total collapse of a genre.
I really do not understand how you can draw that conclusion. Had enclosures been inconsistent why didn't premox happen 50 years ago? I find this just a big distraction.

Maybe a stronger enclosure can slow down premox but as we've seen with screw caps that would mean producers are going to have to tweak something at or prior to bottling.

But again, that's not addressing the real issues as you've listed. This comes across mostly as a distraction at worst and a mere band aid at best.

As far as the list, I don't follow Burgundy beyond Chablis excepting the few things I bump into here. But I do remember someone taking lists some years ago. It seems as though it were more that three or four houses that were not seeing premox. I suppose that's the rub to me. At least in Chablis we see people making wines from the same vineyards and not having premox. Then others that get it badly. It shouldn't be that hard to figure out the what's and why's. I know many houses keep books of what they do year to year. It really can't be that hard to track what changes coincide with when premox reared it's head.

But we've been down this path. For whatever reason people will accept the general lack of openness and answers while accept things like Diam being an answer. Whatever is going on wax tops suck and won't solve premox.
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