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Author Topic:   Rubber Gaskets and Petroleum Grease
jimh posted 04-20-2008 08:59 AM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
I have seen conflicting advice given regarding using petroleum grease as a lubricant or adjunct sealant on rubber gaskets and seals. The practice of using a petroleum grease, such as vaseline petroleum jelly for example, to help maintain rubber seals is both widely encouraged and occasionally discouraged.

Some of the literature warning against use of petroleum greases on natural rubber products is quite old, like this 1930's article published by some nurses in a scholarly journal:

"The destructive action of mineral oil or vaseline as lubricants which come in contact with rubber articles...."

There are also a lot of warnings regarding use of vaseline with latex condoms, which inform that the rubber is weakened by use of a petroleum based grease, but this sort of advice seems to offered without any citation of a source of authority. Wikipedia offers this view, even including a footnote for reference. However, when you chase down the referenced article, it, too, is vague on the subject of the effect of oil-based lubricants on rubber's strength and durability.

On the other hand, some mechanics suggest using vaseline on rubber components in rather critical applications like transmissions. Now transmission re-builders do have a rather bad reputation, but I can't imagine that they would intentionally use vaseline if it caused harm to the rubber.

And here is a company offering a vaseline product that explicitly says it does not damage rubber:

Give me some advice on this. Does vaseline damage rubber gaskets and seals?

Clark Roberts posted 04-20-2008 05:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for Clark Roberts  Send Email to Clark Roberts     
I use vaseline exclusively on carb gaskets (all gaskets) and rubber water pump impellers and have been using it for over 40 problem. Also several mechanics I know use it! My two cents... Clark... SCN

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