PB Blaster vs. All the Other Penetrants - Any Comparison?

Penetrants and Lubricants
Loosen a Stuck or Frozen Bolt. photo by Matt Wright, 2008

Things like PB Blaster, WD-40, Aero-Kroil -- these are all oily sprays in a family called penetrants. A penetrant can be a lifesaver if you are working on a car or truck that is plagued with rusty or corroded nuts and bolts. If you've ever tried to force a bolt out of something like a brake part or an exhaust clamp, you may have experienced what happens when you overseers the bolt and it breaks. This can turn what should have been a simple removal into an hour-long ordeal as you figure out how you're going to drill or drive the broken remainder of that bolt out of its home.

You can prevent this by soaking nuts or bolts that you expect to be corroded in a penetrant.  Penetrants are like lubricants, but instead are designed to help loosen corroded or rusty connections. There are lots of penetrants out there, and all make big claims when it comes to getting things apart. Is there any difference between any of them? There are lots out there -- PB Blaster, WD-40, Liquid Wrench, Gooey Booey, Aero-Kroil -- but are they all the same or do any stand out?

We're starting with PB Blaster. Why PB Blaster, you ask? Heck, we have no idea. Do I look like a chemist? Whatever's in it, PB Blaster can really get the job done. We've used lots of juices to try to get things loose, and nothing seems to measure up to PB. It works better and faster, and longer, than the other stuff we've had around. Soak a rusty connection and let the juice do the work. PB Blaster will eat deep into the rust and corrosion to help free the nut or bolt.

To really rock it, combine PB with a blast of heat from a small torch and you're sure to have things freed up quick. To be fair, there are other penetrants that can rock a stuck bolt, too. Aero-Kroil is equally amazing, but it's lots more expensive than PB Blaster and you can't usually pick up a can at your local parts store.

If you're into stocking your home shop with high brow tools and products or enjoy it when your friends ask "what's that?" you might want to order a more exclusive product like Aero-Kroil to grab some attention on the shelf. If you just want to get the job done for a reasonable price, PB Blaster is our go-to penetrant. 

Oils and lubricants can act as a penetrant in many cases, but a dedicated penetrant is formulated specifically to loosen nuts and bolts. The ingredients not only soak in like an oil would, they contain chemicals to eat away at the corrosion that is causing the nut or bolt to seize in its seat. It's amazing the way a penetrant can creep deep into a rusty joint, and far more quickly than a lubricant would on its own. As I said earlier, adding some heat to the mix can really speed things up an break that nut! Conversely, never try to lubricate something with a penetrant, they don't stick around like that and you can actually achieve the opposite of long term lubrication. 

If you don't have access to one of our favorites, there's no need to get worked up. Most penetrants will do a decent job of helping you get that nut or bolt off, even past a nice layer of rust or crusty paint.

I say most penetrants, because we've tried a few over the years that were absolutely terrible. I hate to say it, but penetrants that are labeled as natural or good for the earth have yielded only moderate success in our shop. We use environmentally responsible products whenever possible in our shop, but when it comes to peformance, we have to go with what we trust.