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Plastic Safe Lubricants

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#1 CaptainSlug

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 12:08 PM

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Apparently there's a host of ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE advice concerning what lubricants can be used with Nerf blasters. Making the wrong choice is likely to result in permanent damage, and even the eventual destruction of your prized plastic possession. DO NOT USE THE SPRAY CANS OF ANY KIND. Any Spray can adhesives are likely to contain petroleum products and solvents in the propellants and those will aggressively damage plastics. Some may even contain alcohol as a thinner.

The Good
Ones you should use

1. Silicone - Available in many varieties and applications, and you must select the type that is intended for your use. Certain mixes contain purposed additives or viscosity ratings that could actually hinder performance or potentially damage your Nerf blaster internals.
Get the Silicone GREASE that's available in small tubs. In hardware stores it is usually located near the PVC Solvent Cements.

 

2. Barium - Harder to find, mostly available from industrial supply. I don't have any personal experience using it myself, but it is used for high-wear applications and in pneumatic control equipment like air cylinders.

3. Dry Teflon pastes - Somewhat expensive but very effective.

The Maybe
Use with caution

1. Lithium - Typically used for bearings this comes as a grease/paste in a variety of specific application options. However any multipurpose lithium grease will work fine so long as it's not one of the varieties with a much thicker blend or too many additives for secondary purposes. The base oil for most "Lithium" Grease is actually mineral oil but the concentration of it is low and the solvent potency of it is low as well. So this one is iffy and depends heavily on which product you purchase because they come in so much variety. The plainer the better.

2. Petroleum Jelly - Pure Petroleum Jelly is compatible with plastics and synthetic rubber, but not advisable for natural rubbers. Avoid any relevant products that include additives for moisturizing (such as chapstick) and be sure that the parts it will be interacting with are chemically compatible.

3. Graphite powder/paste/spray - While it is plastic safe, it is not intended for this type of application. Intended use is for machinery. Also extremely messy. It can work, but isn't advised.

The Bad
Ones you should not be using under any circumstances.

1. WD-40 - This stuff was NOT DEVELOPED as a lubricant. It primarily is used for water-displacement (where the WD acronym comes from), de-greasing, and rust removal. It will UTTERLY DESTROY O-rings in a fairly short period of time, and will eventually destroy plastics.

2. Vegetable Oil - This is a food product and will eventually start to decompose. You will end up with a bacteria farm inside of your Nerf gun.

3. Mineral Oil - Will penetrate o-rings and cause them to soften and swell. Does the same to any natural or synthetic rubber products.

4. Glycerin based (KY jelly or otherwise) - Also a food product (a sugar) which dries up very quickly and will eventually farm bacteria and make sticky surfaces.

5. "Moly" Grease - These are Mineral Oil based greases. Compatible with plastics, but not compatible with rubber of any type. Their intended application is in ball-bearings.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Just use silicone. Nothing else is intended for this type of application.


Edited by CaptainSlug, 08 July 2016 - 12:45 PM.

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#2 Wes7143

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 12:32 PM

I've been using white lithium greace for a full year, and not noticed any negative effects. The chemical worker at home depot assured me it is safe with both plastics and rubber. The tube also says that it does not eat away at plastics or rubbers.
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#3 Draconis

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 12:39 PM

There has been some discussion of this topic recently. We seem to be finding, particularly with the +Bow plunger washers, that certain types of rubber continue to swell when exposed to Silicone spray lube. I have had excellent luck with automotive grade "Silglide" brake lubricant, and also an electrical grade silicone gel which I haven't been able to locate replacement for. It's something I got from the cable company I worked for years ago.
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#4 PointBlank

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 12:42 PM

Thanks allot for this, I was actuary really in need of this information for my next project. =] Perfect timing. Its also nice to know that I have been doing it wrong for almost two years now <_<
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#5 CaptainSlug

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 03:08 PM

I've been using white lithium greace for a full year, and not noticed any negative effects. The chemical worker at home depot assured me it is safe with both plastics and rubber. The tube also says that it does not eat away at plastics or rubbers.

Lithium is used as the base for the grease. It comes with a variety of additives for various applications. But yes the vast majority of lithium greases will work fine with plastics so I'll add it to the list.

There has been some discussion of this topic recently. We seem to be finding, particularly with the +Bow plunger washers, that certain types of rubber continue to swell when exposed to Silicone spray lube. I have had excellent luck with automotive grade "Silglide" brake lubricant, and also an electrical grade silicone gel which I haven't been able to locate replacement for. It's something I got from the cable company I worked for years ago.

Extremely dry o-rings or rubber washers will absorb any surrounding moisture or lubricants if the lubricants are particularly runny.

Edited by CaptainSlug, 28 April 2009 - 03:15 PM.

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#6 1337

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 03:48 PM

What about chapstick? Works fine for me. Am I slowly killing my guns?
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#7 CaptainSlug

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 03:51 PM

Totally 100% disagree with your characterization of it as bad.

I used to modify computers extensively. Anyone that submerged a motherboard in mineral oil for more than a month eventually had the rubber seals on the bottom of the capacitors turn to mush and they would slide right off their pins.
Mineral Oil may not destroy plastics quickly, but in my experience it can and WILL destroy synthetic rubber in a hurry. Especially if it contains additives like vitamins or fragrances.
I've used mineral oil to clean machined parts before and we have to use vinyl or nitrile gloves because mineral oil will eat through latex ones.
Just try filling a latex glove with some baby oil and you'll find that in less than 24 hours any attempt to stretch the glove will result in it breaking.

The liquitron gauge doesn't have any of its internals in contact with synthetic rubber, but instead with plastics that it is not inclined to penetrate.

Different plastics have different resistances to penetration by chemicals. In general it's just not advisable to use petroleum based lubricants for lubricating petroleum-based components.

And you shouldn't be using an spray lubricants that contain penetrants. Very few formulations of spray silicone include those things though. The silicone lube used for bicycle chain has a solvent carrier, but that evaporates out really quickly.

ELECTRICAL GRADE spray silicone lubricants specifically state that they are plastic safe. Hence why they are used on electrical components which are insulated using PVC.

What about chapstick? Works fine for me. Am I slowly killing my guns?

Most chapsticks are made primarily of petroleum jelly, which can destroy o-rings and certain plastic groups over time.

Edited by CaptainSlug, 29 April 2009 - 11:27 AM.

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#8 Boss18

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 03:57 PM

I belive you forgot to mention Vaseline, unless thats condidered petrolium jelly.
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#9 CaptainSlug

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 04:03 PM

I belive you forgot to mention Vaseline, unless thats condidered petrolium jelly.

That's just a brand of petroleum jelly.
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#10 CaptainSlug

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 04:06 PM

The liquitron gauge doesn't have any of its internals in contact with synthetic rubber, but instead with plastics that it is not inclined to penetrate.

Gotta disagree again. Even the tiny gauge in the 2K has a rather large and very thin surface directly exposed. Probably close to a square inch of the stuff.

Which I don't remember being rubber, but rather nylon or acetate. Similar to the plastic used for cheap compact speakers. It's also not under friction or compressive loads.
I have never seen mineral oil used or recommended for lubricating plastic parts or pneumatic equipment. I wouldn't trust petroleum based lubricants with petroleum-based parts. Especially if I didn't know with 100% certainty of the plastics I was dealing with.

I wouldn't recommend it to anyone because I've personally seen it eat rubber.

Edited by CaptainSlug, 28 April 2009 - 04:17 PM.

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#11 Zorns Lemma

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 04:55 PM

I'd like to point out, that within my experience, WD-40 does not actually degrade rubber, specifically, o-rings.

However, it still makes a shit lubricant, given, as you've stated, it was not designed to be a lubricant. It dries fast, leaves an annoying film layer, and will work to clean off grease. But if you ever need to pop the hinges off of a door ...
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#12 TantumBull

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 05:27 PM

I have a question about silicone grease. I have some that was intended to grease parts of a toilet (I'm assuming rubber pieces like gaskets) but it says 90% silicone. Is it still plastic/rubber safe? I'm assuming so, just because of its intended use.
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#13 CaptainSlug

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 05:32 PM

I have a question about silicone grease. I have some that was intended to grease parts of a toilet (I'm assuming rubber pieces like gaskets) but it says 90% silicone. Is it still plastic/rubber safe? I'm assuming so, just because of its intended use.

Yeah, since plumbing parts are mostly rubber and plastic.
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#14 bignibb

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 02:40 AM

So, how did you come to test out the KY jelly?, and what made you even mention that?

#15 CaptainSlug

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 10:48 AM

So, how did you come to test out the KY jelly?, and what made you even mention that?

We've had a few topics like this and a few members were weird enough to have tried it.
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#16 Langley

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 11:21 AM

Any idea what the thick brown lubricant inside screen door closers is? JSB seems to think it's mineral oil, but given that the o-rings in door closers last for years, I would tend to think otherwise.
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#17 CaptainSlug

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 11:23 AM

Any idea what the thick brown lubricant inside screen door closers is? JSB seems to think it's mineral oil, but given that the o-rings in door closers last for years, I would tend to think otherwise.

It's probably high-performance lithium paste. The ones with rust-resistance additives are red or brick colored.
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#18 CaptainSlug

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 02:11 PM

I've opened up three screen door closers, and in every case, mineral oil poured out of each one.

You can use mineral oil to lubricate PTFE o-rings (white in color). In fact you can lubricate PTFE o-rings with some pretty harsh chemicals and they'll perform fine because of its excellent corrosive resistance.

Nerf guns don't use PTFE o-rings though.
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#19 Langley

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 02:49 PM

I have never, ever, said anything on NH about any such substance. I've opened up three screen door closers, and in every case, mineral oil poured out of each one. Mostly-clear, and as thin as it usually is. Don't be stupid - just because the thing you opened may have been a screen door closer doesn't make the stuff inside the same.


I described the lube as somewhat thick, brown/gray liquid in IRC, and you insisted that it's mineral oil. Also, don't be stupid, the thing I opened *was* a screen door closer, and the brand was the same I've seen at every Lowes, HD, and True Value I've seen them in.


Slug, the lube isn't really brick-like in color, it's much darker and much closer to gray than that. Rust resistance is probably not a big concern for the manufacturers anyway as the tube appears to be aluminum and the spring is pretty beefy (and may itself be rust resistant).
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#20 SaucyGanzalez

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 03:03 PM

Thanks for clearing this up Slug. But i have one more question, how bad is petroleum jelly on an X-bow?
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#21 CaptainSlug

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 03:35 PM

Slug, the lube isn't really brick-like in color, it's much darker and much closer to gray than that. Rust resistance is probably not a big concern for the manufacturers anyway as the tube appears to be aluminum and the spring is pretty beefy (and may itself be rust resistant).

Then it might be a pressure-rated lithium grease. Lithium grease comes in a bunch of different colors and mixtures. The intended application for a grease is sorted based on their color.

Thanks for clearing this up Slug. But i have one more question, how bad is petroleum jelly on an X-bow?

Can be bad in the long term. Wipe it off as soon as possible.

Edited by CaptainSlug, 29 April 2009 - 03:36 PM.

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#22 Talio

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 04:43 PM

Bob, stop ruining the thread. Nobody gives a fuck if he didn't say the exact thing. Jesus christ man. Back on topic.
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#23 Draconis

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 02:18 PM

Slug, the lube isn't really brick-like in color, it's much darker and much closer to gray than that. Rust resistance is probably not a big concern for the manufacturers anyway as the tube appears to be aluminum and the spring is pretty beefy (and may itself be rust resistant).

Then it might be a pressure-rated lithium grease. Lithium grease comes in a bunch of different colors and mixtures. The intended application for a grease is sorted based on their color.




That sounds like Moly Grease to me. Which, come to think of it, is in constant contact with rubber axle boots, which don't seem to have any problems with it. I suppose it may eat plastics, though.

Edited by Draconis, 30 April 2009 - 09:26 PM.

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#24 CaptainSlug

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 02:27 PM

That sounds like Moly Grease to me. Which, come to think of it, is in constant contact with rubber axle boots, which don't seem to have any problems with it. I suppose it may eat plastics, though.

Moly grease = lithium grease with brand name additives

Edited by CaptainSlug, 30 April 2009 - 02:42 PM.

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#25 CaptainSlug

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 04:10 PM

That sounds like Moly Grease to me. Which, come to think of it, is in constant contact with rubber axle boots, which don't seem to have any problems with it. I suppose it may eat plastics, though.

Moly grease = lithium grease with brand name additives



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I thought he was referring to this stuff.
Posted Image
Molybdenum grease dries to a gray film and is used for high-temperature and high-pressure applications. Mostly metal-on-metal joints.
You can use it on chain, gears, slides, and so forth but it wouldn't be useful for air cylinders or o-rings.

Edited by CaptainSlug, 30 April 2009 - 04:10 PM.

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