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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 minimally-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 conditions: