Penetrating Oil Qualities

Break rusted parts loose fast

The problem? You have two metal pieces that are close together and at least one of them has to be moved. Over time, these two pieces of metal have gotten wet and the subsequent rust has bound them together. Conventional means will not allow for movement. Rust has formed and binds the two pieces together and they just will not budge with normal effort and tools. The average human reaction tends to be some strong language and an occasional thrown wrench.

You have a task to do and the whole thing stops because of some rust in the wrong place, grinding your progress to a halt. You do not have time to waste and you do not want to do more damage getting it apart. What you do want is the best way to free up those frozen joints and get your job done. Time for a little Pipe Break. A product that works fast.

You have many products to choose from, but what you really need here is a true penetrating oil that fights and breaks down rust. It needs to get to the problem, work through that rust and allow you to move the unmoveable. The following are qualities to consider when evaluating a penetrating oil:


1) Surface tension

An important characteristics of a penetrating oil is the ability to effectively wet out the surface that it is applied on to penetrate.

Another part of a penetrating oil's ability to creep through tight places is the material's surface tension: the tendency of a liquid to stick together and form an almost imperceptible outermost layer exposed to the air. An example would be a drop of water coming out of an eyedropper. From above, we know water has a low viscosity but the surface atoms stick together forming a film that creates the droplet. To see surface tension in action, there is a slow motion video by The Slow Mo Guys that shows a drop of water bouncing off the surface of water due to its surface tension. This property is the last thing you want in a penetrating oil since the priority would be to have the penetrating oil be applied and quickly flow down into the places that are rusted together. On a molecular level, you want a very thin liquid that will be very thin and creep into all the real tight spots.

In the case of water, surfactants or, in common terms, soap, is added to the water so that it wets the surface better. Power washing a house is based on adding a soap that hold the water on the house and breaks the bond of dirt clinging to the house, while allowing the rinse water to flush the soap off. Without a surfactant, the rinse water would just flow over the dirt the same as rainwater does. Add the right soap and you would be amazed at how clean a house comes out. The house comes clean with no scrubbing or high pressure.

To see surface tension in action, check out this Physics Girl video. You will see a number of demonstrations showing surface tension being broken and the effect it can have on different materials that are being held up by the surface tension of water.

2) Adhesive forces vs cohesive forces

The molecular forces between each other can not be seen but the affects of this interaction can be. In the video above there are examples water being cohesive and when soap is added the formula changes and it becomes adhesive. What we mean by cohesive molecules is there tendancy to hold on to each other very tightly. Cohesive is similar things hanging together. When a wood deck is freshly stained water droplets form, when it ages the water runs off more. Molecular adhesion is the opposite. Here two different material attract each other more than they attract themselves. In this case there is agreater attraction of two disimilaar molecules to each other. This affects the way two things behave and interact in the invironment. A good analogy would be if a penetrating oils molecules are like two opposite ends of a magnet it would stick to the metal and go into the metal very effectivly. was like l

3) Creep

Creep is certainly not a scientific term, but a good descriptor of how penetrating oil works. The penetrant needs to work its way down into places you cannot imagine a fluid could get to. There are factors that help a product to creep down into these places. Pipe Break's low surface tension allows it to penetrate into the tightest of places. Creep-ability is a nonscientific term for how well a penetrating oil can get the right particles far into the problem area to free parts that are frozen together by rust. Creep.  Not creepy - that is for the horror movies.

4) Viscosity

Viscosity is defined by Google (shortened for conciseness) as “resistance to flow” and Wikipedia refers to a pretty clear layman's term of “thickness.” One example of high viscosity would be molasses - we've all heard the old adage "slow as molasses." For a penetrating oil, this is just the opposite of what you want. Liquids with high viscosity are sometimes referred to as pitch. An experiment was started in 1930 to see how long it would take for pitch to flow out of a glass funnel and, since that time, nine drops have come out.. That is certainly an extreme example of just what is not suitable for a penetrating oil. You want something that will move in a flash.

An example of a low visosity liquid would be water. It takes very little to have it move, shows little resistance to flow and you cannot really sense any thickness to it. Exert a force on it and it readily moves. The gravitational pull of the moon creates tides in large bodies of water that can go up or down six to 12 feet in some places. Possibly the lowest viscosity material out there is Superfluid helium.  At 2 degrees absolute zero, its state changes to liquid. An old time video shows how liquid helium can creep up, over and out of an open glass container. The BBC has a video showing how liquid helium's low viscosity allows it to actually penetrate a beaker that has an unglazed bottom. It just drips right out. Unfortunately, it is not practical to use liquid helium as a penetrating oil but it does show how important physics and molecular behavior are to getting a high-quality penetrating oil to work better than others.

5) Chemically break down the oxidation of metal

Rust comes from iron-based metals being exposed to water and oxygen which then creates iron oxide. In layman’s terms, it is the typical red, rough scale that develops on exposed surfaces. One quality of am effective penetrating oil is the ability to break down the rust or soften it so it does not mechanically interfere as much with a fastener's removal. The second mechanical problem with rust is how it makes metal grow. Wikipedia says that that “When iron rusts, the oxides take up more volume than the original metal.” What was once a tight nut and bolt is now even tighter if rust has formed on the threads.

6) Lubrication

When we talk about penetrating the rusted nut and bolt with a penetrating oil to reduce the additional friction that rust creates, it always helps to lubricate the surfaces. A little lubrication goes a long way to help make the effort required to go down dramatically.

Faced with loosening rusted parts, the product you want to reach for is one that takes care of all the factors to consider in a penetrating oil. Because time is money and the stuck part is usually the one that grinds the whole project to a halt until it is removed, the cost of the best penetrating oil is not a consideration if you want to keep moving forward on the project.

Pipe Break does it all

Pipe Break is a super penetrant formulated by Calfonex to be just what is needed – more than just a penetrating oil, it has all four major components to be “THE” product of choice when rust is preventing forward progress.

Prove It for Yourself at No Risk

Pipe Break digs in and creeps deep down into the rusted area due to its low surface tension. It gets into really tight places due to its low viscosity, As it seeps between the two parts, it also provides lubrication and breaks down the rust while leaving behind a protective film. When a part does not loosen up right after application, spray a little more and tap the affected parts. The vibration helps work Pipe Break down into the area to be loosened. Give it a little time to work and it should be loose and come apart. For those completely impossible jobs, apply Pipe Break, tap the area and let it sit overnight. Pipe Break will penetrate and break down the rust. The next day, the fastener will come off. If not, we will be happy to give you your money back. We are that confident in the product with the green cap.