Return to Lubrication Articles
SILICONE SPRAY... IT'S LIKE A
BANANA PEEL IN A CAN!!
Silicone... a metaphor for life without friction, a worthy goal, methinks.
Though most of us associate silicone with lubrication and caulking, it is
the name for a range of substances that are organic compounds containing
atoms of silicon, the second most abundant substance on the planet... next to
commercials... err... oxygen. Depending on how the chemical wizards treat it, it
can be a liquid oil (silicone spray lubricant), a resin (silicone caulk in the
tube), or a rubber (dried silicone caulk).
As an oil, it has all the best qualities of a lubricant... non-reactive
to most substances, maintains its greasiness in extreme temperature ranges, low
friction, and does not oxidize. These same qualities make it an excellent rubber
product in hostile environments. Silicone in its many forms is used in
airplanes, prosthetic devices, body implants, as a waterproofing for paper and
ceramics, as a caulk, adhesive, heat resistant insulator, and as a lubricant.
Because silicone oil is super slippery and non-reactive, it can lubricate
most anything. It works especially well on porous items, such as plastic
parts, but is a good lubricant on locks, hinges, and guns. As with all things,
silicone has its dark side. Read on...
Because silicone spray is water resistant, it also can protect items from
moisture. You can use it on home, automotive, and marine metals as a rust
retardant. I know that painted hinges, such as on my van, tend to rust because
the paint chips off. The silicone spray not only protects the outside paint, but
can creep into the hinge to keep it working smoothly. I don't know if you've
ever tried to extract a hinge pin from a van door, but it is not for the faint
of heart, so the silicone is a godsend!
The fact that it is a spray allows you to put it in places that liquid
oils or greases cannot be applied, such as into mechanisms (locks, clocks, etc.)
or bearings such as garage door rollers, pulleys, etc.
...and, of course, the caveats...
Manufacturers of silicone spray products promote this product like the
best thing since sliced bread. It is great... but some of the applications
they recommend may be inconvenient or downright hazardous. Because it is so
slippery and persistent, avoid using silicone spray under the following
- On any surface upon which you walk, sit, or lay.
You'll slide off!!
- On painted surfaces... the paint sucks
up the silicone and makes paint prep ever more onerous than it normally is
(if that's possible)! Paint will not stick to silicone, so always minimize
overspray when using silicone near painted areas (door hinges, locks, etc.).
- On any item that you have to handle,
such as the outside of a gun, fishing rod, door handle, etc.