Lube alternatives to PTFE

While it’s very effective, I’d like to move away from PTFE grease and oil in the future for switch lubing. I’m not really concerned with personal safety impacts, but more manufacturing and waste-stream effects.

For example, I didn’t realize manufacturing PTFE takes PFOA, and burning it after product life results in PFOA, for which there is well-established toxicity data, which has caused companies to move away from it and (outwardly) toward PTFE. (But PTFE remains a subgroup of PFAS.)

I guess this is why Krytox is hard to get in Europe, if I’m not mistaken.

Some reading:

Now we have physical design measures as well, such as polished stems, even absent lube. Perhaps this approach is the most promising. However, this doesn’t solve spring lubing, and presumably polishing some materials is easier/more effective than others.

Historically, I understand there haven’t been great alternatives, or any alternatives. I would not put dielectric in my switches :blush:

Is this changing? Does anyone know of any alternatives extant or in development? Should I start a “post your favorite pre-polished stems” thread?

EDIT: Exhuming this Reddit thread for fun and “profit”. Some of these (the serious ones) do have PTFE, however.

Thank you.


Glorious has G-Lube which doesn’t contain PTFE afaik, I don’t know if they use PFOA or other to produce it

I have used G-Lube to lube stabilizers but I have been too lazy to lube switches. I have never used any other lube so I don’t know if it is actually good

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I’m actually curious if something like basic, clear machine oil would be sufficient for switches. I suspect it would serve well enough.

Ideally, a synthetic oil could be used which didn’t contain any PFAS chemicals.

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I’ve tried G-Lube and IMO it really sucks. For the price, I could get some Krytox 205g0 or 3203 that would work much better. It’s very sticky compared to Krytox or Trobosis and feels as if someone put some dielectric grease in.

I’ve been using mine mixed with water as copium Krytox 105. It does the job but really isn’t suited for anything else.


I have no experience with machine oil but am also curious about this.

I think my only concern is whether the petroleum based oil would break any of the plastics down.

im thinking that the best alternative is to just not lube your switches. You do get used to it in time. I have a handful of switches that are “dry” from the factory that I never bothered to lubricate and I find them fine to use.


It would take some REALLY scratchy switches to get me to want to apply lubrication. Generally, I just try to stick with switches that have some factory lube pre-applied and that’s been alright by me.

That said, I do think machine oil may be an underappreciated alternative.


Anybody ever try Victorinox Multitool (i.e. Swiss Army Knife) Oil? Just saw on a pic from the Cannonkeys meetup that ai03 used it alongside Krytox in a Polaris v2 propotype. I assume he used it for stabs, but I don’t know, nor do I know anything about the oil’s makeup :crystal_ball:

From a sentence I found elsewhere someone commented it has good longevity on the blade because it’s slightly sticky. That sounds like GPL 106 consistency to me.

(EDIT: Oh, he does use it on springs!)

@pixelpusher Fair point, and a bit mind-bending given the premium placed on smoothness as a virtue. It comes to preference, after all.

I think it’s possible for switches to be smooth enough unlubed after using stock CJs for an extended time. I’m also using those without spring lube. I like it in a keyboard with really good acoustics (Brutal v2) but find them a bit too raw in some other boards that way. I think spring lube would clean that up. Though not amazing, those springs are decent.

However, while I own multiple TX spring weights, I haven’t really used them yet. So maybe high-quality springs unlubed would also do the trick, and I’m just not aware of that yet.

@Extra_Fox Do we assume factory lube generally contains PTFE as well? Under the parameters of this line of thinking, to me, I’d also be avoiding factory lube under the assumption it does. However, I do agree with you in practice. My two factory lube switches have both been nice as-is.

I can’t honestly say, but I would be surprised. I would think they’d want to use whatever was least expensive, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t yield completely acceptable results.

Agreed, I’ve found the performance of factory lube completely acceptable, coming down more to application method and consistency. With the cost of PTFE, using something else would make sense. Now I’m curious to bug some switch designers with this question.

My main grasp with factory lube is the lack of lube on springs, if I’m buying a factory lubed switches I expect the springs to not needing manual lube.

Sorry if this is a dumb question - I’m new here (hi!) - but if one wanted to remove factory lube, or switch away from PTFE lubes, is it necessary to remove the existing lube first?

The factory lube, if it’s not PTFE based would probably be easy to remove via ultrasonic cleaning or isopropyl alcohol.

PTFE based lubricants are a bigger challenge because the chemicals and processes needed to actually remove it seem pretty extreme. I don’t usually link to Quora, but in this case they outline the challenge pretty well.

Wow - thank you! And that is a very detailed answer on Quora. Sounds like PTFE lube is more or less a permanent modification. Is there an easy way to tell if existing lube is PTFE based? Is its hydrophobic nature easy enough to visualize in situ, or is it better to just try the ultrasonic and see if it comes off?

Not that I’m aware of. I guess if you try cleaning it and it doesn’t come off at all, you might be dealing with that. If it is, I’d honestly just be tempted to leave it. Since trying to clean it off sounds like a lost cause.

Makes sense. Thank you for the PSA! I’ll make sure to think twice before applying the commonly recommended lubricants since that decision might turn out to be irreversible.

Merry Christmas! :christmas_tree:

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FWIW, I’ve got a lot of lubricants with PTFE additives. I don’t like that this is the case, but I didn’t know about the issues with these chemicals. Personally, I feel like using the stuff up is probably better than just binning it all and going with alternatives.

True! I would also hate to waste stuff I already had. For me, since I’m really new to the hobby, I don’t have any lubricants on hand at all. If I have to purchase something for the purpose, it would be nice to know of an option that would avoid these problems if possible — but it sounds like perhaps there might not be many options for an effective, plastic-safe, but PTFE-free product.

There’s Vertrel XF which is marketed to remove “PTFE release agents”.

Vertrel XF Solvent - a Krytox product specifically designed to clean and break up all Krytox and TriboSys lubricants.