Greasing your vehicle’s bearings, joints, and other metal surfaces is one way to protect them from rust or corrosion and keep the car running smoothly. Silicone grease is one of the most preferred greases that many car owners use.
However, grease has a wide range of applications besides being an effective lubricant in the automotive industry. But what is silicone grease, anyway?
Silicone grease is a waterproof and high-temperature resistant grease made of silicone oil and a thickening agent. Generally, the silicone oil is PDMS – polydimethylsiloxane, while amorphous fumed silica represents the thickener.
This article explains what silicone grease is, its pros and cons, as well as the various applications where you can compatibly use it.
What is Silicone Grease?
Silicone grease is a unique type of lubricant widely used in several mechanical and industrial applications. The powerful properties of the grease make it a suitable lubricant for a wide range of applications, including automotive, plumbing, medical, electrical, etc.
Silicone grease is manufactured with high-capacity resistance to water, extreme temperatures, and chemicals. This quality makes it an ideal lubricant for use in harsh conditions or environments.
The grease can withstand different temperature levels ranging from around -40°C to 200°C without any breakdown or loss of its quality lubricating properties. Furthermore, it does not dry out or evaporate after a while.
Unlike other lubricants, silicone grease does not cause cracking, swelling, or degradation when used on rubber and plastic.
Some silicone grease uses include lubricating bearings, gaskets, o-rings, and seals in different types of machinery.
What is Silicone Grease Made Of?
The formulation of silicone grease consists of the following materials in different proportions:
- Silicone oil (polydimethylsiloxane – PDMS).
- Thickening agent (amorphous fumed silica).
- Performance additives.
Silicone oil is a clear, odorless, and inert synthetic fluid derived from silicon, a chemical element that is widely found in rocks, sand, and minerals.
Besides the silicone oil and thickening agent, silicone lubricant may also contain a variety of other additives to help enhance its performance.
In some cases, it may include antioxidants to protect it against oxidation so that the grease doesn’t break down over time. It may also include UV stabilizers to help prevent degradation due to exposure to sunlight, as well as anti-wear additives to minimize friction and wear.
Silicone Grease Applications
The silicone grease specification makes it an ideal lubricant for a wide range of applications. The following are some of the common applications of silicone grease:
Silicone grease is commonly applied in the automotive industry to lubricate various vehicle parts, including spark plug boots, door seals, hinges, and rubber bushings.
Due to its ability to withstand hot temperatures without breaking down easily, auto mechanics and DIYers apply the lubricant to engine parts and other harsh environments.
Silicone grease is a great electrical insulator. It can be used to protect various electrical components from dirt, moisture, and corrosion.
Typically, the lubricant is usually applied to electrical switches, connectors, and terminals to help prevent them from damage. So, if you were asking, “Is silicone grease dielectric?” The short answer is “yes.”
Silicone grease is also used by plumbers to lubricate gaskets, O-rings, and other rubber components. The lubricant helps to prevent water leaks by creating a watertight seal. It can also help prevent the corrosion of metal components.
Due to its inert and non-toxic nature, silicone grease can also be used in medical applications. It is often used in medical devices, such as catheters and several other surgical instruments.
Individuals can use silicone grease at home to lubricate door hinges, drawer slides, and window tracks. It can also be applied on metal surfaces like bike chains and tools to prevent corrosion and rust.
Pros of silicone grease
- Excellent water-resistant capacity
- High temperature resistance
- High Durability
- Multipurpose application
- Excellent compatibility with different surfaces
Cons of Silicone Grease
- It is messy and irritating to handle
- Limited load bearing capacity
- Maybe difficult to wash off clothes when stained
- Relatively more expensive than some regular grease
Q: Is silicone grease the same as vaseline?
Silicone grease and vaseline are not the same, even though they share a couple of similarities in function and appearance. Silicone grease is made from silicone oil and a thickening agent. It is both water and high-temperature resistant.
Conversely, vaseline is made from petroleum jelly, a mixture of hydrocarbons from petroleum. It has no high temperature and water resistance capacity like silicone grease.
Q: What should you not use silicone grease on?
Though silicone grease is dielectric, do not use it on some electrical contacts or connectors. Using silicone grease for electrical connections or contacts can insulate them and alter their conductivity.
Therefore, it would be best to use specialized electrical contact lubricants or cleaner to avoid any form of complications. You may want to find out the kind of lubricants recommended by your electrical equipment manufacturer.
Q: Which is better, silicone or lithium grease?
Silicone and lithium grease are excellent lubricants used for mechanical and industrial applications. While silicone has a high temperature and water-resistant capacity, lithium grease has a very high melting point.
In other words, the kind of application will determine which grease you should choose when contemplating between silicone grease vs. lithium grease. So, silicone grease is not necessarily better than lithium grease and vice versa.
Q: When should you not use silicone lubricant?
Do not use silicone lubricant when using a silicone-based sex toy because it can cause it to deteriorate. Also, avoid using the lubricant when performing any activity that requires friction or a grip due to its slippery nature.
Lastly, avoid using silicone lubricant on medical equipment like oxygen tubing and respiratory mask to prevent damage.
Q: Is silicone grease plumbers grease?
Silicone grease may not be directly tagged “a plumber’s grease.” However, the lubricant is useful in plumbing applications, as well as in many other areas. Plumbers use silicone grease for o rings, gaskets, etc.
Although there are various types of lubricants designed for use in plumbing, silicone grease happens to be the most preferred due to its durability, compatibility, and versatility.
Q: Is silicone grease the same as WD-40?
No. Silicone grease and WD-40 are not the same, even though they are both lubricants. While both products can be used for lubrication, you shouldn’t use WD-40 as a silicone grease substitute.
Silicone grease is a durable lubricant most suitable for applications where you need a thicker or more viscous lubricant. Meanwhile, WD-40 is penetrating oil mostly used for loosening stuck or rusted parts, as well as for the prevention of corrosion.
Q: Does silicone grease wash off?
Silicone grease does not outrightly wash off a surface where it has been applied due to its ability to repel water. However, the lubricant can be washed off when exposed to some specialized chemicals.
In other words, the grease can be on a surface for a long time without going off. But you can wash it off when you’re intentional about removing the lubricant.
Q: Does silicone grease break down plastic?
Silicone grease is compatible with a couple of plastics; hence, it may not result in their breakdown. However, specific plastics may break down over time when you apply silicone grease on them.
For instance, polypropylene and polyethylene are generally known to resist silicone grease. On the other hand, acetal and polycarbonate may be relatively more susceptible to breakdown when exposed to silicone grease over time.
Q: Will silicone grease damage metal?
Silicone grease will not damage metal, provided it is correctly applied to the metal compatible with the lubricant.
For instance, silicone can damage metals like aluminum or magnesium alloys due to the possibility of experiencing a chemical reaction when the lubricant is applied. Therefore, ensure to find out the lubricant compatible with the specific metal.
Q: Does silicone lube have side effects?
Of course, silicone lube comes with a number of side effects, such as allergies, tough stains, etc. For example, the messy nature of the lubricant can be relatively irritating to handle during application.
Also, the high resistance capacity of the lubricant can make it difficult to clean or wash it off from your clothes when stained during application.
There’s no “one-fits-all” product in the global market. Irrespective of the fact that silicone grease can be used in a wide range of applications, you may not get 100% satisfactory results in some cases.
That’s why it is vital to consider the best type of grease recommended for the specific surface you desire to lubricate.
However, if you know anyone asking, “What is silicone grease?” Recommend this article to them.