Simple Corrosion/Oxidation vs. Galvanic Corrosion and Burndy's Penetrox A vs. Ideal's Noalox vs. Gardener-Bender's Ox-Gard                     Jan 2014 R. Kwas Update on-going.  [Comments Added.]     

This information is in addition to:  Anti-Corrosive-Zinc-Paste for Electrical Connections


Consideration of corrosion of electrical connections
Galvanic Chart
Analysis and Comparison of three Specific ACZP Products
    Penetrox by Burndy
    Noalox b
y Ideal
    Ox-Gard by Gardener-Bender
Customer Feedback and Response
Product Availability


Background:  Corrosion is not a good thing to have in line with any circuit intended to pass current (or even just near it, because corrosion tends to grow and spread with time, eventually involving critical areas which are in the current path, and to an extend bad enough to cause minor symptoms to complete malfunctions.  This is why prevention/mitigation are so important and useful in vintage vehicles.  By definition, vintage means old!

Causes of corrosion are multiple...Simple Corrosion (SC) occurs when unprotected metals are exposed to news there, but add to that also the slightly magical effect of Galvanic Corrosion (GC) occurring whenever dissimilar metals are in contact. 

Enter Anti-Corrosive Zinc Paste (ACZP, the author's generic term) for electrical connections.  When it was realized that GC was occurring in house wiring where copper and aluminum are in contact, and that this was resulting in some very serious consequences, this special product was developed.  By applying ACZP to connections susceptible to GC, Aluminum oxides which are nonconductive, are prevented. 

Same demon for a different reason, and same cure!   We don't have many occurrences of GC in our vehicular electrical systems, because we (thankfully) do not have aluminum wiring or aluminum to copper connections in our vehicles, but we do have plenty occurrences of simple oxidation corrosion as a result of the metals and connections being located in, and exposed to, a pretty poor environment...basically outside, where they are subject to moisture (either from condensation due to temperature variations and humidity, or even direct spray), so we may not have many occurrences of the original, galvanic corrosion ACZP was developed for, but we do have lots of simple oxidation corrosion...the end-effect and the demon is the same, and so is the cure.  We can still benefit from the anti-corrosive function ACZP provides for our electrical connections!

The point is that we don't really care which mechanism is responsible for the corrosion, because ACZP is affective against both! 


Consideration of corrosion of electrical connections which occur in vintage Volvo vehicles [as a result of a combination of Simple Corrosion (SC) and Galvanic Corrosion(GC)]

Non-Problematic Galvanic Combinations (these are connection only subject to Simple Corrosion only)

Tin and Copper.  Tin plating of copper electrical terminals is a typical treatment.  The combination also occurs when wires are crimped into tin plated terminals.  As can be taken from the galvanic chart below, copper and tin are virtually in the same place, so no galvanic voltage is formed, and this combination exhibits no galvanic corrosion, but as these connection are still subject to simple corrosion, hidden within the crimp, it is recommended when making new crimps, to apply ACZP to wire strands before inserting into crimp (there is not much which can be done retroactively on old existing crimps short of replacement).  

Copper (Tin plated)  and Brass. This combination occurs for instance at the Fuse-Blocks of 122s and 1800s.  Same as galvanic action, only SC!  Recommendation:  Apply ACZP to electrical terminals!

Battery Terminals (two styles are typical, and the acid nearby plays a big role!):

Lead to Lead.  Identical metals are in contact at vehicle Battery.  There's obviously no dissimilar connection no galvanic action occurs, however the connections are in close proximity to sulfuric acid and its fumes, so possible direct attack resulting in accelerated SC is very possible!  When this occurs on the surface(s) between clamp and Battery post, a high resistance connection will result. 

Lead to Copper.  Occurs at wire to Battery Clamp Terminal, or some types of battery clamps to post.  Since Lead and Copper are very close on chart, we would expect negligible GC, but as these connections are again in close proximity to highly reactive sulfuric acid, what minimal GC that takes place is actually accelerated as shown below, and concentrated on the least noble of the two:  Copper.  Recommendation:  Apply ACZP to Battery terminals!  

Before and after corrosion.  An unprotected battery terminal will eventually turn into a corroded one on the right. 
Presence of highly reactive acid accelerates Galvanic effects and copper being the least noble, looses! 

Those cute little Red and Green chemically treated pads for Battery posts are OK, but they will never beat the effectiveness of ACZP!

More Problematic Galvanic Combinations: 

Brass (an alloy of copper and zinc) and Iron.  This combination occurs at lamp bases, making green (or white) oxide compounds, resulting in voltage drops, poor, intermittent and eventually open connections.  Some Copper oxides are conductive under the right conditions, but not in general, and certainly not as seen below on the brass bulb base.    Advice:  Apply ACZP to bulb bases!  [Are you beginning to see a pattern here?]: 

Example of bulb base corrosion.  This picture is borrowed from another SwEm tech article. 

Galvanic Chart:  Source (along with much other good info!):

 As can be seen on the chart, Copper and Tin are close friends and play well together, with virtually no galvanic voltage being generated when the two are in contact.  Zinc is at a very low station on the galvanic pecking order and will corrode preferentially to almost everyone...and when in contact with anyone else, pure Magnesium would just as soon like to be on fire, electro-chemically speaking!  


An Impartial Analysis and Comparison of three Specific ACZP Products for the purpose of use on automotive electrical connections (presented in the order that writer became aware of them)

Penetrox by Burndy:

Product info sheet:

MSDS sheet:

More info on Castor Oil:

Castor oil

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:


Castor beans.

Castor oil is a vegetable oil obtained by pressing the seeds of the castor oil plant (Ricinus communis).[1] The common name "castor oil", from which the plant gets its name, probably comes from its use as a replacement for castoreum, a perfume base made from the dried perineal glands of the beaver (castor in Latin).[2]

Castor oil is a colorless to very pale yellow liquid with a distinct taste and odor once first ingested. Its boiling point is 313 C (595 F) and its density is 961 kg/m3.[3] It is a triglyceride in which approximately 90 percent of fatty acid chains are ricinoleate. Oleate and linoleates are the other significant components.

Castor oil and its derivatives are used in the manufacturing of soaps, lubricants, hydraulic and brake fluids, paints, dyes, coatings, inks, cold resistant plastics, waxes and polishes, nylon, pharmaceuticals and perfumes.[4]


Excerpt from Wikipedia page: 


Castor oil has numerous applications in transportation, cosmetics and pharmaceutical, and manufacturing industries, for example: adhesives,[28] brake fluids,[29] caulks, dyes,[28] electrical liquid dielectrics, humectants,[28] Nylon 11 plastics,[30] hydraulic fluids, inks,[28] lacquers, leather treatments,[28] lubricating greases, machining oils, paints,[28] pigments, polyurethane adhesives,[31] refrigeration lubricants, rubbers,[28] sealants, textiles,[28] washing powders, and waxes.

Since it has a relatively high dielectric constant (4.7), highly refined and dried castor oil is sometimes used as a dielectric fluid within high performance high voltage capacitors.


Vegetable oils, due to their good lubricity and biodegradability are attractive alternatives to petroleum-derived lubricants, but oxidative stability and low temperature performance limit their widespread use.[32] Castor oil has better low temperature viscosity properties and high temperature lubrication than most vegetable oils, making it useful as a lubricant in jet, diesel, and race car engines.[33] The viscosity of castor oil at 10 C is 2,420 centipoise.[34] However, castor oil tends to form gums in a short time, and its use is therefore restricted to engines that are regularly rebuilt, such as race engines. Biodegradability results in decreased persistence in the environment (relative to petroleum-based lubricants)[35] in case of an accidental release. The lubricants company Castrol took its name from castor oil.

Castor oil has been suggested as a lubricant for bicycle pumps, because it does not dissolve natural rubber seals.[36]


Castor oil plant

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:


Ricinus communis
Castor oil plant
Ricinus communis (castor oil plant) at Bandlaguda 002.JPG
Leaf of a Castor oil plant
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Subfamily: Acalyphoideae
Tribe: Acalypheae
Subtribe: Ricininae[1]
Genus: Ricinus
Species: R. communis
Binomial name
Ricinus communis
Ricinus communis

The castor oil plant (Ricinus communis) is a species of flowering plant in the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae. It belongs to a monotypic genus, Ricinus, and subtribe, Ricininae. The evolution of castor and its relation to other species are currently being studied using modern genetic tools.[2] It reproduces with a mixed pollination system which favor selfing by geitonogamy but at the same time can be an out-crosser by anemophily or entomophily.[3]

Its seed is the castor bean, which, despite its name, is not a true bean. Castor is indigenous to the southeastern Mediterranean Basin, Eastern Africa, and India, but is widespread throughout tropical regions (and widely grown elsewhere as an ornamental plant).[4]

Castor seed is the source of castor oil, which has a wide variety of uses. The seeds contain between 40% and 60% oil that is rich in triglycerides, mainly ricinolein. The seed also contains ricin, a water soluble toxin, which is also present in lower concentrations throughout the plant.


Excerpt from Wikipedia page: 


Main article: Ricin

The toxicity of raw castor beans is due to the presence of ricin.

[Ricin is a pretty nasty toxin, so it's highly recommend that you don't consume Penetrox A in any manor...was hands after contact and before eating, and find something else to spread on your morning toast.  Ron]  

In the writer's opinion, Penetrox A by Burndy is an acceptable ACZP for automotive applications.  


Noalox by Ideal: 

Product info sheet: 


MSDS sheet: 


Polybutene info:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Excerpt from Wipipedia:


It is used in two broad areas: 1) as a chemical intermediate for additives used in engine oils, gasoline and greases, and 2) formulations based on its physical performance characteristics. Industrial applications include, sealants, adhesives, extenders for putties used for sealing roofs and windows, coatings, polymer modification, tackified polyethylene films, personal care, polybutene emulsions. Hydrogenated polybutenes are used in a wide variety of cosmetic preparations, such as lipstick and lip gloss. It is used in adhesives owing to its tackiness. In addition it is used as a smoke inhibitor in two stroke engine fuels, where the benefit derives from the polymer decomposing (unzipping) at temperatures below the combustion temperature.


Interesting to note is another result of the search for Polybutelene:

...notice under the cosmetics link, that it is non-drying...that certainly explains the continued runniness. 

In the writer's opinion, Noalox by Ideal, is not an acceptable ACZP for automotive applications.


As I have stated elsewhere, my brother-in-law isn't the owner of Burndy, so I don't exclusively endorse Burndy's Penetrox product...manufacturer Gardener-Bender has an equivalent product called Ox-Gard: 

Ox-Gard by Gardener-Bender:

Product info page:

MSDS page:

I find it only somewhat amusing but not surprising that this manufacturer even gets it wrong in their published info...zinc particles are, but not Electrically Conductive!!!  ...file this under Inaccurate / Untruthful Embellished of Product Descriptions in the MSDS by the Marketing Department...or maybe just pain Bad Information.

Embellishment notwithstanding, in the writer's opinion, Ox-Gard by Gardener-Bender, is an acceptable ACZP for automotive applications.



Source:  ...excerpt from thread on "Where not to use Noalox" ... I agree with posters #13 and #14 engine compartment is certainly outside and a damp location, and it is definitely not "a waste" to use it there, on connections other than aluminum to copper!

More from the same Forum......and on page 2, post number 26, poster has it only partly right...he recognizes the benefit of encapsulation (which dielectric grease, or ANY grease would also give) but doesn't mention anything about the anti corrosive properties of zinc: 

Another LINK from the Amateur Radio community (having antennas in the sky with aluminum elements and hardware holding things together, we have some experience with corrosion and its prevention!):




Customer Feedback and Response:  

Having obviously studied this issue at length, I couldn't help myself and had to leave this less-than-glowing Amazon Customer Feedback for Ideal's Noalox (8oz. size)  (LINK: ). 

Good Concept, but Poor Execution from this manufacturer! Viscosity of carrier is much, much too low! This causes product to totally separate during storage, requiring extensive mixing to get the zinc particles back into suspension, and the brush built into the cap is NOT strong enough for this mixing. The other squeeze bottle container which is available is even worse...the first thing which comes out because of the separation, is a runny, clear thick liquid with ZERO zinc particles, and the opening of the squeeze bottle is so small it doesn't allow for decent mixing.

OK, so after mixing with a metal rod (a wooden stick or paint stirrer is not even strong enough!), and making a general mess, and wasting product, you can use the brush to apply it or put the top back on squeeze bottle and squeeze it out...but then product is so thin and runny that it oozes away from vertical surfaces where its applied within 24hrs, making a mess below, because carrier stays runny and does not dry (horizontal surfaces take a little longer but result is the same). This product (and especially the squeeze bottle packaging) was a complete disappointment...even as a lube, its a disappointment because the stuff just doesn't stay put! Ideal is a manufacturer and supplier of first quality tools and products, but they really missed the boat here...much preferable to Ideal's Noalox product is Burndy's Penetrox anti-oxidant paste...same zinc particle active ingredient, but as a paste (grease carrier!), it stays absolutely where it's applied, including overhead and at elevated temps (no, my brother-in-law does not own Burndy, I just know what works for me, and what doesn't!). I've also contacted Ideal and suggested product improvements...competition is good for the breed...and this brand is what local home improvement places carry, so if this product was improved to correct this weakness, availability factor would be a big positive. Cheers!

[Update Feb 2015:  Ideal's Noalox product group leader has gotten back to me (impressive customer support in the first place!), and advised they are addressing my concerns on their product.  Watch this space for updates of the results of their efforts. ]   


Product AvailabilityChecking on-line at the time of this writing, Home-Depot carries the Noalox product, and Lowe's carries the Ox-Gard competition...I have not located Burndy's Penetrox A product at any of the common outlets, so it is not quite as easy to procure, but I do buy and stock it in industrial quantities, so that I can send generous samples out with SwEm Kits...but if I needed a small amount quickly, I know who I'd be visiting. 


Disclaimer:  The terms Penetrox A, Noalox, Ox-Gard and Burndy, Ideal, Gardener-Bender, Home-Depo, Lowe's, and Volvo are used for reference only.  I have no affiliation with any of these companies, other than being a customer and user (or detractor!) of some of their products, in order to keep my vintage vehicle working for me, and to help other enthusiasts try to do the same.  The highly opinionated results presented here are from my own experience, and can be used (or not, and used strictly for your amusement!) at your discretion.  As with any recipe, your results may vary!  As always, you and you alone are responsible for your knuckles!  If you can supply corrections, or additional objective information or experience, I will consider it, and consider working it into the next revision of this article...along with quite possibly the odd metaphor and maybe wise-a** comment. 

Where not otherwise attributed, the contents of this article are Copyright 2015 by R. Kwas.  You are welcome to use the information here in good health, and for your own non-commercial purposes, but if you reprint or otherwise republish this article, you must give credit to the author or link back to the SwEm site as the source.  If you dont, youre just a lazy, scum sucking the Boston Globe wants you! 


B A C K ! . . .to Tech Articles Index Page