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I'll flesh my personal bias at the outset - being a heavy diesel mechanic for a time, and mechanically inclined my entire life, I use Anti-Seize wherever I can. If it has threads and it's not part of a rotational mass like a driveshaft, clutch, or hub, I use it. It's served me very well over the years. Specifically, I usually skip the copper and use the slightly more expensive nickel anti-seize to avoid reactions with certain metals and increased temperature limits.

Recently, I've heard an (as of yet unsubstantiated) claim that Anti-Seize is an abrasive because of the metal content on this bicycles.SE question and then after searching here. If this has any merit, it changes my understanding of the substance in a fundamental way.

Now there IS good reason to think of it as a lubricant, starting with the title, 'Anti Seize Lubricant', one of the primary ingredients being grease and graphite (graphite being a solid lubricant that shears easily), the datasheet, which describes it as such. It does warn:

CAUTION: LOCTITE Nickel Anti-Seize Lubricant is not a high-speed load carrying lubricant and should not be used on ball or roller bearings, or on parts where lubrication is critical.

This tells me yes, it's a lubricant, but not for specific lubrication issues. The only thing I can find to substantiate the abrasive claim is this datasheet under the Moly Plate section, where is states this:

Does not form a carbon abrasive after high-temp exposure

Could it be the case that the people who mention the abrasive qualities are those who have passed the heat rating of their anti-seize? This is a possiblity, since most people use the copper type which is only rated for 550°F, where I consistently use the nickel type rated for 2,400°F.

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According to its TDS, the Permatex Copper anti-seize is rated to 1800F, and the standard Aluminum/Copper/Graphite stuff is rated to 1600F. If your bolts are getting that hot, well, I don't think the anti-seize is going to be your problem. – Kevin Vermeer Apr 17 '12 at 9:48
    
Some cheaper generic/copper anti-seize is only 550F-600F (like here), and this is pretty achievable in localized areas or bearings. Anti-Seize can be used for much more than bolts - the question here is whether it has abrasive properties in some contexts. Let's say for hyperbole I put it in all my bearings. – Ehryk Apr 17 '12 at 9:53
3  
+1 "I use Anti-Seize wherever I can": preach it, brother! – Bob Cross Apr 17 '12 at 16:18
    
"If it has threads and it's not part of a rotational mass like a driveshaft, clutch, or hub, I use it." Yes! +1 – quentin-starin Apr 26 '12 at 3:34
up vote 2 down vote accepted

This is an educated assumption...
In geology a mineral's hardness is measured according to different scales. A common one is Mohs scale of hardness, which ranks minerals from softest (talc) to hardest (diamond). The only way a mineral can scratch the other, is for the mohs hardness value to be higher. Now, according to the link:

  • Graphite - 1.5
  • Copper - 3
  • Iron, Nickel - 4
  • Platinum, Steel - 4-4.5

Assuming parts manufacturers are aware of this, anti-seize should not have an adverse effect on heavy equipment, automobiles, and the likes. This assumption assumes the alloys used in all these parts are harder than the metals used in anti-seize.

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Thank you for the helpful ideas, and I'll take this into consideration. When it comes to lubricant, though - it's not simply about hardness. I wouldn't put nickel shavings in my engine oil, for example. Essentially I'm wondering if the 'abrasive' claims have any merit, or are just made up. – Ehryk May 3 '12 at 1:11

According to the data sheet of "Permatex® Nickel Anti-Seize Lubricant"

TYPICAL APPLICATIONS
Drop forge dies and hammers, catalyst bed and reaction chamber supports, slow rotating bearings in hot corrosive environments, lubricate and seal pipe threads in acid environments, coat gaskets in high temperature applications, lubricate conveyor chains, chemical plant bolts for pump housing and pipe flanges.

An educated assumption here as well:

When grease is applied to a bearing for instance, you are actually applying a carrier holding oil; as the bearing rotates there is enough friction to heat the carrier and liberate enough oil to wet the moving parts, thus lubricating them.

If you apply a product that is designed to behave differently, then the bearing balls/rollers have to fight to push through the grease. On the same token, an overpacked bearing with the good stuff will behave poorly as well for the same reasons.

So for slow rotating parts where wetting as explained earlier would not be possible, the graphite in the anti-seize would perform the lubrication.

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