Best penetrating oil

Joined
Dec 25, 2018
Messages
116
Location
Ohio
Hope this is the correct forum for this, it was either here or "General" or "Workshop", but I feel penetrating oil is essentially a tool for getting troublesome bolts out so...here I am...

Years ago I came across a website (which I can no longer find) where a fella did some unbiased experiments to see which penetrating oil performed the best. He tested several of the top selling brands along with a home brew and a control group. What he did was soak 20 nut/bolt combos in salt water for each of the products he was testing, and left them in said solution until they were rusted to the point of expansion, which is common to see on a rusty suspension bolt here in the rust belt. He then dumped out the salt water, allowed the combos to dry, and then let them soak in their respective penetrating oils for a set amount of time. He then placed the bolts in a vice and proceeded to completely unscrew each combo with a torque wrench that recorded the maximum torque required during disassembly, and then averaged the results for the 20 combos. The result was that Liquid Wrench outperformed everything else by a large margin. I had been a fan of PB Blaster up until this point, but it came in near the bottom of the pack. Incidentally, so did WD40 which is NOT a penetrating oil at all, so no surprise there. In my efforts to find said review (literally from years and years back, so no surprise the website is gone) I found the following YouTube video where someone did a similar, albeit much smaller, experiment but with essentially the same results. I am a powder coater and motorcycle builder/flipper by trade so, no, I don't work for Liquid Wrench nor am I being paid by them in any way. Just posting this so you can make an informed decision the next time you purchase a penetrating oil in hopes of unsticking some stubborn, nasty bolt or nut. I see folks on this forum all the time saying "soak it with some WD40 or PB Blaster" and cringe knowing there is a much better alternative out there that might make the difference between getting it off with a wrench or a cut-off wheel...

Which Penetrating Oil is Best? Let's find out!
 

John McVicker

SILVER Star
 
Joined
Jul 11, 2005
Messages
2,614
Location
Big Pine, CA
Have seen that guys YouTube before. His are good and to the point & I trust his results.

I also think Liquid Wrench is great but I use a home brew called Ed's Red. No test, but it does good as a penetrate and is great for gun cleaning and rust removal from older tools etc. ...and it's cheap.

EQUAL PARTS of the following:

A) Kerosene
B) ATF (Dexron 2, 2E or 3)
C) Acetone
D) Mineral Spirits
 
Joined
Dec 25, 2018
Messages
116
Location
Ohio
I use a home brew called Ed's Red. No test, but it does good as a penetrate and is great for gun cleaning and rust removal from older tools etc. ...and it's cheap.

EQUAL PARTS of the following:

A) Kerosene
B) ATF (Dexron 2, 2E or 3)
C) Acetone
D) Mineral Spirits
He did an acetone/ATF mix which came in 3rd behind heat and Liquid Wrench, but he noted that they didn't stay mixed for long. Does your brew stay mixed pretty well? I was simply wondering if perhaps it's the acetone doing most or all of the work since it's watery thin...? ATF is nothing more than a hydraulic fluid essentially, I use it in motorcycle forks all the time, though I must plead ignorance regarding all the potentially helpful additives that are in it that may facilitate an easier removal of a rusted fastener.
 

e9999

You want to do what...?
Moderator
 
 
Joined
Sep 21, 2003
Messages
16,665
Location
US
I have read and seen quite a few of those "studies". Seems like there is a wide range of opinions.
Although, what I recall best is 1) the Liquid wrench bit as you mentioned. But admittedly this may be because I have a gallon of the stuff and am keen to justify using it before the can rusts away. Seems to work OK but it's not like I'm bowled over all the time with the stuff. I will say, though, that having a lot of comparatively inexpensive penetrant is good as in giving me the incentive to slather it frequently on hardware I leave outside. And that is bound to help later on.
And 2) the half ATF half acetone mix, also mentioned above. This one I have not yet used seriously but I suspect that acetone is expensive enough to throw a wrench in that proposition if you will use a lot of it. Although I've been saving my old ATF for some time to stockpile enough to give it a serious try sometime.

I also have several cans of more exotic and expensive stuff like Aero Kroil etc that I save for those critical jobs in the -perhaps fallacious- hope that they will work better and save the day.
 

John McVicker

SILVER Star
 
Joined
Jul 11, 2005
Messages
2,614
Location
Big Pine, CA
I haven't had an issue with my Ed's Red separating, however some folks have. Some think it's because of the type of ATF they used...dunno.

However, this subject is hard to pin down. Almost like asking 'which tire is best' or similar. I even like Kroil, which came in last in his test. I've used the home brew for a very long time, it's great with firearms and satisfies me quite well as a penetrant...and like I said...it cheap, dirt cheap.
 
Joined
Dec 25, 2018
Messages
116
Location
Ohio
Yeah, definitely not wanting to start a flame war or anything, just too busy/lazy to do a comprehensive comparison test of my own. I've seen two such tests now, years apart, with similar results. I used to use PB Blaster simply because it's $.90 cheaper per can, but in this case $.90 might make the difference between victory and a cutting torch. For 3x as much, I'd expect amazing results from Kroil, but it finished behind WD40 which is only mistakenly considered a penetrating oil.

One thing to note, the major difference between the first test I saw years ago and the one I posted (besides the number of fasteners tested, the more the better for more accurate results) is that the first tester unscrewed each nut/bolt fully apart and recorded the max torque it took for full removal. Most of the time a rusty fastener breaks loose okay but gets hung up on what were fully exposed threads. I recently had the displeasure of removing rusty coilover top bolts on a 2007 Tundra, requiring the use of Irwin deep socket easy-outs on the shrunken-from-rust 14mm nuts, and even after getting a grip on one that had essentially rotted away down to ~12mm and successfully breaking it loose, it stalled out halfway off and necessitated the use of an air chisel. But, that said, both tests declared LW the winner and I've got a 5yo, half-used can of PBB on the shelf as a result.
 
Joined
Jul 18, 2015
Messages
411
Location
Canton, Michigan
I've used a variety of spray on potions. Currently using PB Blaster. I use Kroil, but only on my weaponry.

When all else fails: Mr. Torchy works the best.
 
Joined
Mar 15, 2014
Messages
1,366
By far the best stuff I’ve used is in a small bottle @Tools R Us and @inkpot concocted.

It’s the left overs from kroil, PB blaster, WD40 and a bunch of others, maybe some sort of black magic crap. But it seems to work wonders where other stuff falls short.
 

John McVicker

SILVER Star
 
Joined
Jul 11, 2005
Messages
2,614
Location
Big Pine, CA
^^^
Yeah, I know. Every other test I've ever seen has Kroil right at or near the top. This guy did what seems to be a legit test but it did not fair well. I use it about as often as I use my home brew Ed's Red. To me both are great.
 

e9999

You want to do what...?
Moderator
 
 
Joined
Sep 21, 2003
Messages
16,665
Location
US
where do you guys buy all this cheap acetone? (or do you use your girl's nail polish remover? :D)
 

1911

chupacabra
 
Joined
Aug 11, 2006
Messages
5,351
Location
Parker County, Texas
where do you guys buy all this cheap acetone? (or do you use your girl's nail polish remover? :D)
I saw it at Wally World the other day when I was there buying windshield washer fluid for the mrs. cars. Didn't look at the price though.
 

Willard

SILVER Star
 
Joined
Oct 5, 2007
Messages
1,536
Location
Northern Virginia
Kroil removed a rusted nut I thought for sure would break off.

ATF/Acetone worked magic on another rusted bolt.
Both I soaked overnight.

Both worked well.
For the price of Kroil, my home brew works fine so what if i have to shake it once in a while.

Got to try adding the kerosine and mineral spirits.
 
Top Bottom