Info You Can Use

What's inside

Like with many products, it is sometimes very difficult to tell what is in the packaging.

How does it really look?
How does it really perform?
Is it enough for what I need?
Ultimately, am I getting the best value?

Most agree that one cannot necessarily judge a book by its cover. This is very true when it comes to graphite lubricants in the marketplace. All aerosol and paint cans look the same, but the contents inside can be extremely different.

Asbury Carbons® reviewed and tested nine (9) graphite dry film lubricants in the marketplace to see what we might find.

SLIP Plate® branded products are the original, premium dry film graphite lubricants trusted for almost 40 years in commercial, industrial, and household applications.

What’s inside your can of graphite?
Not all graphite dry lubricants are the same

Perception is not everything. How much is really in the can?

Product packaging is a huge industry that plays on the psychological game of making products seem more when there is less. Take for example nine competing aerosol cans of dry graphite lubricants in the table below. They all share the same standard 16-ounce aerosol can, but comparatively, they all have different net weights of product inside. In the case of aerosol cans, the difference in net weights can be due to different formulary reasons like mixing ability and propellant choice. For whatever reason, at the end of the day, how much product did you purchase for the price you paid? Did you get a good value or did you get short-changed?

Product Brand Net Weight % Solids
A 5.5 oz 1.8%
B 10 oz 0.9%
C 10 oz 1.5%
D 10.5 oz 0.7%
E 10.5 oz 0.8%
F 11 oz 25.2%
G 12 oz 1.6%
H 12 oz 41.9%
SLIP Plate® 12 oz 21.4%

Reality counts. What's inside the can?

Many believe that graphite lubricants are a commodity product. In other words, all rattle/paint cans of graphite coatings are all the same. In reality, there are two (2) main things that govern the performance of the graphite lubricant that you purchase: amount of graphite and the type of graphite.

How much graphite is really in there?

I was recently in my local hardware store looking to purchase some paint for our attic. I found a sale priced paint and took it to the mixing counter for my color choice. The counterperson suggested that I get a couple gallons more because one coating would end up very thin as there really wasn’t much solids in the paint. At the time, I thought that this person was getting me to buy more or “up sell”. Of course, I didn’t listen and the hard reality was the counterperson was right. I had to go back and purchase more as the first coat was not thick enough to cover the old paint. What a waste of time.

Graphite lubricants are not so much different. A measurement of percent solids indicates the amount of graphite and other solid materials in the formulation after all of the liquid has been evaporated. Higher percent solids number will mean that you potentially have to run to the store less often than the others of lower percent solids.

What kind of graphite is it?

Graphite is much more than just what is in your No. 2 pencil. It is mined throughout the world and it can be extremely expensive depending on the type of graphite and its purity. For example, vein and flake type graphites are the most lubricious grades compared to amorphous and synthetic graphites. In general, more lubricious grades of graphites are typically more expensive. Also, manufacturers can further process these grades of graphite to be more resilient and lubricious.

Types of graphite

So, just because there are high percent solids, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a higher grade of graphite or even if it is all graphite. Inert additives can make the product seem like there is more when it is still really lacking the anti-friction property of graphite. The best way to tell the difference is to look at the product performance.

The proof is in the performance

Another factor that governs graphite coating performance is the type and amount of binder. The binder is the “glue” that allows the graphite to stick to the surface and to itself. Finding the right balance is important as it could mean poor performance. Too little binder would simply allow the graphite to blow off allowing rust to occur where too much binder might hinder the lubricity.

Performance benchmarks

There are several tests that laboratories use to evaluate the performance characteristics of graphitic coatings as recognized by the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials). The choice of graphite materials with its coating formulation will dictate the effectiveness and long-lasting nature of the lubricant. A water resistance test looks at signs of rust corrosion after three (3) days; this is a pass/fail test. A crosshatch adhesion test looks at the strength of the graphite coating material sticking to a metal surface. A score of 5B is good adhesion and 1B is poor. The water and solvent rub tests evaluate the durability of the graphite coating before bare metal is visible. Lastly, a friction test under a heavy load of friction determines the “slipperiness” of the material before the material is worn and the coating fails. The best graphite dry lubricant would be the one with the highest marks in these tests and therefore would imply how well it would work in your application. Below is a table that summarizes laboratory performance testing on dry film graphite products.

Product Brand Net Weight % Solids H20 Resistance Water Rub (50 max)1 Solvent Rub (50 max)2 Xhatch Adhesion3 Friction test @ 22500 psi4
A 5.5 oz 1.8% Fail 1 1 1B 1400 sec
B 10 oz 0.9% Fail 50 1 5B 1300 sec
C 10 oz 1.5% Fail 1 1 1B N/A
D 10.5 oz 0.7% Pass 1 1 5B 1000 sec
E 10.5 oz 0.8% Fail 1 1 1B N/A
F 11 oz 25.2% Pass 50 6 5B 700 sec
G 12 oz 1.6% Fail 50 2 1B 1750 sec
H 12 oz 41.9% Pass 50 50 5B 1250 sec
SLIP Plate® 12 oz 21.4% Pass 50 22 5B 2400 sec

1 ASTM D4752
2 ASTM D4752
3 ASTM D3359
4 ASTM G99 Estimated force based on test surface area on all products


There is usually a reason why some products, seemingly identical, can have a vast difference in price. As the saying goes, "You get what you pay for". The value of the product and the caliber of its performance are dependent on the quantity and the quality of the materials. This definitely holds true for graphite dry lubricants. Next time you purchase a graphite lubricant, take time to ask: Which product is really the best? What's really in my can?" Without the knowing facts, everything looks the same when it really is not.

Dry film info

Choosing the right lubricant can extend the life of your devices, prevent a mess, and reduce re-application. A little research can offer you a great return in terms of maintenance and efficiency.

SLIP Plate® branded products are the original, premium dry film graphite lubricants trusted for almost 40 years in commercial, industrial, and household applications.

Understanding Dry-Film Versus Oil Lubricants.
When Do You Use Them?

Applications for lubricants are endless and it is important to know when best to use a dry-film lubricant over an oil-based lubricant or vice versa. Factors to consider include: re-lubrication cycles, temperature limitations, life expectancy, surface area, and environments (outdoors vs. closed-conditions). Let’s start with differentiating the two.

Oil film or wet lubricants are traditional oils

Oil film or wet lubricants are traditional oils and greases common to the market that are usually very easy to apply. Oil lubes manage friction extremely well under ambient and closed conditions. Depending on temperature, they provide the best coefficient of friction out of all the lubricants. Because they are liquid in nature, the lubricant can flow and migrate to very hard to reach places like chain linkages to provide relief from stress and wear. They are recommended for use in enclosed environments in order to avoid attracting and trapping particles such as sand, dirt, dust, and other foreign airborne debris. Once trapped, these contaminates will increase friction to cause excessive wear, increase noise, and produce thermal build-up resulting in premature part failure. Although messy, oil lubricants are preferred for controlling high friction situations and penetrating deeply into small crevices.

Oil film

Dry film lubricants are solid lubricants

Dry film lubricants are solid lubricants such as graphite. They are wet when applied, but quickly dry to form a slippery and durable coating. These products are typically painted on to the surface by brush, spray, or aerosol application. Graphite is widely used in the market as a dry lubricant because of its unique flat molecular structure allowing it to easily slide with itself like a deck of cards. Other dry lubricants are available in the marketplace, but they are typically more expensive.

Card deck

Why choose oil lubricants over dry lubricants?

There are several reasons someone would choose oil lubricants over dry lubricants. Again, oil lubrication works best for applications that require a very low friction. The coefficient of friction of dry lubricants will be higher than petroleum-based lubricants. Because of its ability to flow, oil lubricants can easily migrate to different areas of the part. Very light oils or low viscosity oils can reach into very difficult to reach places. Once applied, the effects are very immediate.

On the other hand, dry film lubricants are preferred under certain conditions due to their properties as a solid. Dry film lubricants will wear away over time but at a much slower rate compared to oil based lubricants. Since a dry film lubricant can adhere like a paint, the lubricant is bonded to the surface making it difficult for water to simply wash away. Oil lubricants can float to the surface in the presence of water because of its lower density to point that the part can be without lubrication.

Solid lubricant

Another advantage of dry lubricants is that it will not attract and trap dust, grit, sand, dirt, mud that can lead to increased friction and part failures. Just think of throwing some sand on a surface coated with oil and another with a dry lube. Which one would the sand stick to? For this reason, dry lubricants are ideal to create slippery non-stick surfaces.

In the case of SLIP Plate® products, the solid film of graphite lubricant will perform under temperature extremes. Once dry, the material will not change consistency in response to the outside weather temperature. Graphite is also a hydrophobic material. Simply put, it means that graphite is naturally water resistant and therefore, rain and snow easily repels from its surface making it ideal for outdoor environments.

Graphite is a natural mineral lubricant made of carbon and is an environmentally conscience alternative to petroleum-based wet film lubricants. While there are more eco-friendly oil-based products being introduced into the marketplace daily, traditional oil based lubricants still dominate the marketplace. These oils are typically synthetic and very difficult to break down in nature.

Key Factors to Consider when choosing a lubricant.

Summary Table Dry Film Lubricants Oil Lubricants
Friction Management
  • Slightly lower coefficient of friction. Provides a longer consistent lubrication over time.
  • Material does not typically change over time
  • Will not attract dust, dirt, and debris. These elements simply will blow off surface.
  • Higher coefficient of friction. Provides very slippery surface.
  • Will degrade or breakdown easily over time.
  • In an open environment, can attract dust, dirt, and debris over time. This can create a paste and significantly lower the coefficient of friction and become potentially abrasive. Cleaning and re-application will be required depending on the environment.
  • Because it is a solid, it does not change performance with ambient temperatures.
  • Graphite lube breaks down thermally at extremely high temperatures (450°F).
  • Handles very low temperatures (-75°F).
  • Because it is a liquid, it will change performance as the viscosity under low and high ambient temperature conditions.
  • Material can thermally break down in ambient temperatures
  • Does not easily flow into small areas.
  • Adheres to the surface securely. Requires much effort to remove it from the surface.
  • Easily can flow into small areas for good lubrication, but can flow off the surface easily. This means that the product will need to be re-applied more often.
Reactivity to Water
  • Material is hydrophobic.
  • Lubricant is typically bonded on tightly to the surface. Difficult to wash off.
  • Material is hydrophobic.
  • Water can displace the oil lube and easily be washed off the surface.
  • Graphite lubricants are mainly carbon and natural to earth in its usable state.
  • Petroleum based lubricants are typically synthetic and can cause environmental harm.

Thus, a dry film lubricant remains dry to provide a more consistent friction management system, giving a longer lasting anti-friction surface, and extending the life of mechanical parts regardless of the change in ambient temperatures. As a natural mineral made of carbon, graphite is a very environmentally friendly lubricant. Oils can provide a better anti-friction surface and easily flow into very hard to reach places. Choosing the right lubricant can extend the life of your devices, prevent a mess, and reduce re-application. A little research can offer you a great return in terms of maintenance and efficiency.

SLIP Plate