Most people don’t know that anti seize that contains copper actually reacts with stainless steel and causes galling (thread locking). Also brands that don’t say Copper on them may actually have copper as an ingredient in their anti seize. If you stick with a Nickel based anti seize (harder to find) you will avoid any potential problems with it reacting to stainless steel parts in your car. I suggest everyone workings on cars make the switch to a Nickel only anti seize.
That is why I want to write this post and recommend people switch from Copper based anti seize to Nickel based anti seize. Nickel does not react with any metals, and also provides superior heat resistance and a better lubricating quality.
- Base Composition Nickel
- Min. Operating Temp. -20 Degrees F
- Max. Operating Temp. 2400 Degrees F
- Lubricant Color Silver
- Protect Metal Parts from Rust
- Corrosion, Galling and Seizing on High Temperature Applications
- For Use on Stainless Steel and Other Metals in Harsh Environments
Copper Anti Seize Corrodes Stainless Steel and Works Only To 1800°F (982°C).
- Nickel based anti seize works to a temperature 600 degrees higher than copper based anti seize. It also does not react with stainless steel which can be found on most exhaust systems.
From an architecture website,
- “Since copper has one of the highest galvanic numbers or nobility of the active metals, it will not be harmed by contact with any of them. It will, however, cause corrosion of the other metals if in direct contact. The solution is to prevent such direct contact with the use of separating materials, such as specific paints or gaskets.” Read more here.
I believe that same principle applies to using copper based anti seize on metals like stainless steel. It is just a practice that should be avoided, since it is so easy to avoid.
- Why risk it? Just buy a nickel based anti seize and never worry about it.
Why don’t more auto shops sell and carry Nickel anti seize?
I don’t honestly have a good answer to this other than it is more expensive. The aluminum or copper varieties typically come in a bunch of different sized tubes etc., whereas the Nickel based anti seize is more of a professional grade. It typically comes in larger bottles that cost more money overall. However, a $25 in anti seize should be enough to last you the rest of your life if used correctly. To read how to use anti-seize correctly, read my post here.
This post isn’t meant to be selling any specific product. However, if you want an easy option just order it off Amazon. These two brands are my favorite anti seize and come highly reviewed (click to read more reviews on Amazon / check price). Either one will work for your needs perfectly well.
My top favorite anti seize to buy (links open to Amazon to check price / reviews)
If you’re looking for an anti seize in 2021 that will serve you well for Marine purposes (or anything that comes into contact with freshwater as well) this Jet Lube Anti Seize is the bomb!:
Is Copper Anti Seize Bad? Is Aluminum Better?
- It is not my opinion that copper anti seize is bad.
- But when I am working on cars I don’t want to constantly be thinking about whether the bolt I am using is going into a part that is stainless steel.
- I’d rather have one product that does everything the other product does, but has less drawbacks.
- Nickel will not react with stainless steel therefore you can use it without worrying about it like you would with Copper anti seize.
Is Aluminum Anti Seize Also Safe With Stainless Steel And Better Than Copper?
Aluminum anti seize is also safe to use with stainless steel. HOWEVER, a lot of the cheap anti seize you find at your local auto parts store contain copper even if it is an aluminum based anti seize. You must read the label carefully. That is why it is easier to just use Nickel anti seize and not have to worry about it. Nickel anti seize is the best simply for that reason, it doesn’t hurt that it also has a higher temperature rating than both copper and aluminum (go ahead use it on those super hot turbo exhaust bolts).
Why Are You Encouraging Anti Seize On Spark Plugs:
I am encouraging you to think for yourself, and to learn from your own mistakes. If you follow torque specs blindly that were meant for dry plugs. You will over tighten plugs. It will be an expensive lesson.
Want to read more about why I like using anti seize on spark plugs, and the science behind it click here.
Regardless of whether you’re using the plugs dry or wet, should you be blindly following torque specifications on boxes of spark plugs? No.
You should develop your own hand feel for when a Spark Plug is tight whether it has lubricant on it or not.
As a general rule of thumb if you’re going to follow the dry torque specs from your manufacturer (you haven’t developed a good hand feel) then reduce the torque by 20-30%.
That is why I encourage anyone that will be doing Spark Plugs on a car to be watched by someone very experienced. Or better yet go to a local junk yard and have fun over tightening spark plugs on cars that are about to go to the crusher. Take some plugs out, feel what they feel like dry to thread in tight. Then lube them up and tighten them to where you think is good. Then go further and tighter till the plug strips out.
I have a whole article about why you should do here. I think it is fun to go to Pick n Pull anyway. Might as well learn something while you are there. Read more here.
There are also two types of common Spark Plug Types of Seals:
Most popular and most often used is a spark plug that has a crush washer installed on it. With these plugs you tighten it down till it is hand tight, then go around 1/4 – 1/2″ turn depending on the specification for your car / how tight it “feels” when you do it.
You want to feel the washer crush, but not go too far.
Develop this hand feel over time, and by going to a pick n pull and doing it way over tight on some cars.
- The other common Spark Plug design does not have any seal / crush washer.
- It is called a tapered spark plug. The engine design (head) is specifically designed to accept these kind of spark plugs.
If you get the correct plugs for your car they should come ready to be installed (no need to add a crush gasket / or remove one… ever)
NGK explains it super well here.
What Do NGK, Autolite, Denso, Champion, Bosch etc., Say About Using Anti Seize:
Here is what NGK says (link to their page)
Don’t use lubrication on spark plugs, since they’re coated with a plating that allows for easy removal of the plugs.
However, they then state if the plug is removed and put back in (even just once) you must use anti seize as now the coating has been removed and the plug will stick.
Autolite says this.
They basically don’t mention anti seize in any of their installation or instructional videos / posts. EXEPT, when they’re discussing the ford 5.4l plugs that are known to get stuck / cause problems.
Then they specifically request Nickel anti seize be used.
Denso Says This:
Do not use anti seize or any “thread lubricant” as your torque values will be thrown off.
To learn how anti seize effects torque values, and how you can easily learn to feel when a spark plug is tight read my post here.
Champion Says On Their Spark Plugs:
“Once the shell is formed and threaded, it is zinc-plated to extend its life and reduce the chances of seizure in aluminum cylinder heads. Our latest technology combines Tin Tac” and ULTRASEAL’M coatings over the plating to further reduce corrosion and seizure.
Champion recommends that you do not use any lubrication compound, since one has already been applied to the plugs at the factory.”
Read more here.
Do not use any type of anti-seize compound on spark plug threads. Doing this will decrease the amount of friction between the threads.
The result of the lowered friction is that when the spark plug is torqued to the proper specification, the spark plug is turned too far into the cylinder head.
This increases the likelihood of pulling or stripping the threads in the cylinder head.
Over-tightening of a spark plug can cause stretching of the spark plug shell and could allow blowby to pass through the gasket seal between the shell and insulator. Over-tightening also results in extremely difficult removal.
To read more about what the aviation industry says about anti seize click to read my article here. I will also discuss proper application of anti seize on spark plugs.