Polish remover good for removing thermal paste?

By OCZElite ยท 32 replies
Mar 30, 2008
  1. Hi

    My question as stated in the topic, can polish remover remove thermal paste? it contains alcohol of some sort.

    does anyone have any idea?
  2. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    It's recommended to use isoprophyl alcohol. (mind you I have used other solvents myself)

    But you should use isoprophyl alcohol
  3. twite

    twite TechSpot Paladin Posts: 937

    I second that, isoprophyl alcohol works well for most electronics. It evaporates fast. I have used it for AS5 and it works great.
  4. OCZElite

    OCZElite TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 33


    Is there a type of brand and certain percentage that i should know off? And where would i be purchasing this type of alcohol.
  5. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    Yes above 70% Brand shouldn't matter
  6. OCZElite

    OCZElite TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 33

    How much would these cost me? $3?
  7. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    No idea (~$5) but it's the cost of a life (well CPU life) you can't put a dollar figure on that :)
  8. Kegtapper

    Kegtapper TS Rookie Posts: 17


    it should only cost .75 to $1 for 16oz bottle.
    Family Dollar, Eckard, Walgreens, Dollar Tree Everywhere

    aka Rubbing Alcohol.
    But since I know solvents well, I use Acetone. (unscented nail polish remover from Family Dollar), and I am careful of not getting the liquid near plastics, and in a well vented room.
  9. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    no. The best thing to remove thermal grease is electronics degreaser. Buy it at any electronics shop.
  10. Kegtapper

    Kegtapper TS Rookie Posts: 17

    It is not the best, it is a specilaized item- Actually the best is MEK (Methyl-Ethyl Ketone) or Liquid Freon.

    Everyone don't have deep pockets. That stuff is like $5.99 for 2oz
    Generally considering it won't be used but once or twice, I'd go for the 12oz of isopropyl alcohol and a travel pack of generic 'Q-Tips' (total $1).

    Plus if you need it for another use, you can do that too. Like rubbing sore thumb from playing video games. Or adding to Windex for a stronger solution to cut grease, or clean mirrors. Or add it to your Windshield washer fluid so it don't freeze. But with the electronics degreaser, it has one purpose and use. If you get the aerosol that dosn't help the ozone either.

    (yes I worked in Aerospace)
  11. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    Can I just ask a quick question

    Why does anyone need to purchase this cleaning stuff anyway?
    I mean why can't we just use anything?

    I'm not talking about real hardened heat sink goo removal, just wiping off excess goo (that usally simply comes off with absolutely anything ! (A dry cloth will do!)

    I really do want to know, hoping it's not too dumb of a question. But I know of others who just use anything (and it seems to be clean)

  12. Kegtapper

    Kegtapper TS Rookie Posts: 17

    Because, you have to properly clean electronics to get a quality life out of the product.

    If you use AJAX, and scrub all the thermal compound off, you will still leave residue of Chlorine and Pumice on the chip. No telling what emissions you will be breathing while the PC is running.

    If you use Windex- again who knows what will be left on the chip. Sometimes it may act as an agent slowly eating away at the top metal surface, or heavens forbid, using it on a Centrino where the ceramic/glass surface is exposed to those residuals. Then one night when you got home from partying and left the computer on, doing a throrough virus scan- the PC goes up in smoke, taking all your hard drives with it

    Again, that is why forums exist, so that reliable information and experience can be passed along rather than assuming 'other stuff' would work just as well.

    Even a broken clock is right twice a day
  13. Mekaonija

    Mekaonija TS Enthusiast Posts: 114

    Contaminants, residue or even left over thermal paste left behind on the CPU will effect the surface contact between the CPU and the heat sink which will mostly just mean that because their is less contact it won't conduct the heat to the heat sink as effectively. Even just minuscule amounts, It might not seem like to big a deal and maybe it isn't but the goal is to get as much contact as possible and anything left behind, even in microscopic cracks will slightly effect that contact. Thats why you want the surfaces to be polished clean so when you put that fresh layer of thermal paste/grease you can get as much out of it as possible.

    Alcohol is good because their is no water in it which can damage components, It is also a disinfectant and it evaporates at a higher temperature so just as you wipe your surface clean their is also no alcohol left over to contaminate the surface.

    Isoprophyl alcohol contains water and alcohol, 70% means that 70% of that is pure alcohol, so I would recommend the 99% one more. It is also very cheap and can be easily bought at most drug stores.
  14. Kegtapper

    Kegtapper TS Rookie Posts: 17

    sure but that is not tap water that is the other 30% - it is distilled water. Besides 99% alcohol or denatured alcohol is highly flammable. Not sold in drug stores, but in hardware stores because it a methanol product usually cracked from petroleum plants. And isopropyl can come from distilled grains.
  15. Mekaonija

    Mekaonija TS Enthusiast Posts: 114

    Really, thats where I got mine. Waltzed right into a pharmacy, into the first aid section, and wham a whole shelf of them >;D Right on the bottle is a list of instructions for cleaning wounds =p
  16. Kegtapper

    Kegtapper TS Rookie Posts: 17

    Encarta has an excellent outline of Alcohols if someone need reference materials

    I knew that chemistry class would come in handy one day
  17. Kegtapper

    Kegtapper TS Rookie Posts: 17

    What country?

    Eastern Europe? Absurdistan??? Where
  18. Mekaonija

    Mekaonija TS Enthusiast Posts: 114

    Ottawa, Ontario in Canada. Distilled water may be free of most impurity but its still not going to evaporate as fast and you still probably wouldn't want to use to much on your electronics.
  19. Kegtapper

    Kegtapper TS Rookie Posts: 17

    ok, nevermind

    didn't Bush try to buy Canada back in 2002? Just kidding :p
  20. Mekaonija

    Mekaonija TS Enthusiast Posts: 114

    >;DD Aha... Man I'm glad that guys is out of office soon. =p
  21. Kegtapper

    Kegtapper TS Rookie Posts: 17

    But i don't use alcohol, I use acetone or MEK. That was reference for others
  22. Mekaonija

    Mekaonija TS Enthusiast Posts: 114

    Oh yeah. Not saying that its the only and most effective way to clean off your CPU. Their are lots of quality products made for that task that can do a better job than the alcohol but Its just that its easy to use, works well and can usually be found and bought for cheap. Mine was the 99% one and It cost about 4$ for 600ml I think. I have like 10/12 of the bottle left.
  23. Kegtapper

    Kegtapper TS Rookie Posts: 17

    Absolute Answer: YES
    But is it always the best? No

    It does not contain alcohol. it contains a petroleum distillant- usually acetone.
    there are varieties, but I recommend the 100% acetone version(no nail strengthener, no Vitamin E, no Aloe- nothing!)
  24. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    And another thread Solved with only 24 Posts :)
  25. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    As far as I know you can't buy 99% in regular stores in the US. I'm pretty suprised that you can in Canada because as far as I know there is no reason not to sell 99% except for production costs. In the US you can buy 70% or something in the low 90s, like this 91% from Walgreens.

    What lead me to even know about not being able to get 99% here is because I work at a university, and my department does a lot of work with chemicals and to buy some 99.8% from Fisher Scientific it costs you 6.5 cents per mL, which equals about $31.50 for 16oz.

    That being said I only use 99.9% on my thermal paste removal, it works so well I can't imagine using anything else. I tried to find the exact 99.9% that we use from Fisher, but apparently they don't sell it anymore.
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