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Plumber’s Grease vs Silicone Grease: All You Need to Know?

Plumber's Grease vs Silicone Grease
Written by Warner Levit

When it comes down to lubricating plumbing fixtures, it’s essential to understand the differences between plumber’s grease and silicone grease.

Plumber’s grease has chemical ingredients and should only be applied to plumbing that is not used for consuming water. If water is to be ingested from the plumbing setup, you should use silicone grease.

Both are effective lubricants, but it all hinges on your safety. Let’s compare the two and see what will work best for you.

Plumber’s Grease vs Silicone Grease: How Do They Differ?

1. Formulation

Plumber’s

It’s made with silicone grease and a wide assortment of waterproof chemicals. It can be toxic, so you can’t use them on particular plumbing setups. People like to compare it to Vaseline because of its texture, but it’s thicker than the classic Vaseline.

Silicone

Silicone grease is also known as dielectric grease. This type of grease is made with silicone oil. Some varieties have silica thickener in them, which makes them a more delicate consistency.

2. Best uses

Plumber’s

This grease is applied to plumbing parts to protect and lubricate them. A plumber often uses it while installing o-rings or faucets. In many circles, it is referred to as faucet grease because it’s often used to fix faucets.

Silicone

This grease lubricates and blocks corrosion that forms on faucets, valve stems, ballcock linkages, and other areas when waterproof lubricant is required.

3. Potential for contamination

Plumber’s

You need to be earnest in figuring out what you need this grease to do. If not, because of the ingredients in the formulation, plumber’s grease might contaminate your water.

Silicone

This lubricant is made from food-grade components only. It’s excellent in protecting the surface you are greasing and humans overall.

4. Safety

Plumber’s

Using this grease on sliding or turning metal products is advised. The base of the lubricant is petroleum and can impact the stability of rubber and plastic plumbing parts.

Silicone

This grease is very safe to use on o-rings (rubber or nitrite), combats many harmful chemicals, and is very resilient regarding water.

5. Water resistance

Plumber’s

Yes, the formula for plumber’s grease is waterproof and resistant.

Silicone

Yes, this grease is also waterproof and resistant.

6. Lifespan

Plumber’s

As long as the grease is adequately stored in its original seal, it should last around 5 years. Many manufacturers tell homeowners to use plumber’s grease regularly on a shower faucet. It cleans out debris and stops rust from forming. It also makes using the faucet’s handle much more effortless and eliminates any squeaking noises that might occur.

Silicone

The shelf life for most grease and lubricants is 5 years. Grease can dry out, so it’s advised that you use this grease regularly for your plumbing fixtures. It makes everything run smoother.

7. Contact with potable water

Plumber’s

If you apply this grease to places that do not have contact with potable water, it’s very effective for your plumbing needs.

Silicone

Because it can be ingested, this grease is often applied to potable water sources where it might meet food, beverages, and dental equipment.

8. Temperature effects

Plumber’s

Plumbers grease is made to withstand hot temperatures. It keeps its consistency from 40 degrees Fahrenheit to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Silicone

Silicone grease is also made to handle high temperatures.

9. What to Use?

Plumber’s

Plumbers grease is often used by professionals and the average person for plumbing needs. It’s regularly applied and used to fix squeaky and noisy faucets and so is known a lot of the time as faucet grease. Due to its chemical makeup, it’s not recommended to use where water might be ingested.

Silicone

Silicone or dielectric grease is a waterproof lubricant with a thick consistency that’s great for greasing many plumbing fixtures. It’s made up of food-grade components and is commonly found where there are potable water sources.

FAQs

Q. Can I use WD-40 instead of plumber’s grease?

No, it would be best if you didn’t use WD-40 when you need to use plumber’s grease instead. The WD stands for water disbursement, has a thin consistency that won’t stay put, and has no lubrication in its formula. WD-40 is suitable for cleaning o-rings, but they will dry out eventually and functionality will be limited because the o-rings will no longer seal and break down inside your faucet.

Q. Is there a substitute for plumber’s grease?

Not really. The product is made for a reason. Some think they can use Vaseline or olive oil, but this is not a good idea. Over time (around 6 months to 1 year), it will break down your rubber plumbing components (like o-rings). You will have to replace them at that time and use proper grease on the fixtures.

Q. How do you clean off silicone grease?

Fill a sink or basin with tepid water and add a little dish soap (degreasing kind). The soap will break down the grease so the residue can be removed. You might have to change the water and soap a couple of times before the sticky substance is removed.

Q. What type of grease do you use on o-rings and rubber parts?

Use silicone grease on o-rings and other rubber plumbing parts. If you use petroleum-based grease, it can affect the product’s integrity and stop working correctly.

About the author

Warner Levit

Water Filtration Expert

As a trained chemist and an independent researcher I started working on a portable water filter project as part of my business plan. While carrying out my research, I got involved with FaucetsReviewed. My fields of expertise include environmental science, biochemistry and water purification chemistry. Apart from contributing to this website, I’m currently working on my book “Water Filtration Science”. It will be published soon. I grew up in California, and completed my postgraduate degree from the University of California-Berkeley. I also work as a private counselor on the household water management system.

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