Is there a worthy thermal paste alternative? This is a question many people have pondered over the years, especially as the price and availability of thermal paste become prohibitive.
Many big box stores don’t have thermal paste readily available. It may be impossible to wait a few days to have any delivered. Therefore, some people have started to test out thermal paste alternatives that are readily available, inexpensive, and just different.
But is it possible?
Keep reading to see what we have discovered.
What Is The Best Substitute For Thermal Paste?
If you are looking for the best substitutes for thermal paste, you can look at a few different places. Most of these items won’t be a permanent solution.
They can instead hold you over until you get an actual thermal paste. Still, we gathered some options from across the internet and beyond to safely replacing thermal paste temporarily.
Hazelnut Spread Is A Thermal Paste Alternative
Your favorite hazelnut spread doesn’t have to be just for toast. It can be an excellent thermal paste replacement. When you get a nice, thick hazelnut spread, you can use it as a thermal paste for a few days (no more than four). Take the spread and put it on the device, getting a somewhat thick layer that is even. You may have to hold the piece together until the spread firms up; cooler temperatures will help with this.
When you go to take the hazelnut cream off, be sure to eliminate it all as it can grow mold over time.
Aluminum Powder & Vaseline
Another option that we commonly see is aluminum powder and vaseline. You have to take your time and blend this mixture for at least ten minutes, if not longer. Everything needs to be emulsified together for the best results.
You can buy aluminum powder or make your own by sanding down a piece of aluminum. You won’t need all that much to get enough paste. Use equal parts vaseline and aluminum at first and then slowly add in some extra aluminum powder.
Diaper Rash Cream
Another easy-to-find (and cheap!) option as an alternative for thermal paste is diaper rash cream. You can get just any diaper rash cream. However, it would help if you got a cream with zinc oxide, one of the ingredients in thermal paste, so you are about halfway there already. Be sure to clean your surface with alcohol before applying it thoroughly, or you may not have the best results.
Diaper rash cream lasts for 5-6 months without any problems, one of the longer-lasting options.
Ketchup and/or Mustard
You probably have ketchup or mustard in your refrigerator right now, and they make for pretty good thermal pastes for an extremely short amount of time. If you only need something that will last a few days, then these are pretty good options, but you will have to keep reapplying them to the surfaces.
Some people have suggested using butter as a thermal paste because it is good at filling in the air bubbles. However, butter does start to melt almost immediately. It wouldn’t be a great option due to the oils dripping inside your tower.
Cheese Spreads or Cheese
There are rumors that you can use cheese spreads or even yellow cheese or American cheese as thermal paste throughout the internet. These do work in filling the space, but they don’t necessarily work to eliminate air bubbles because they also have air bubbles that no whipping will stop. Over time, the cheese will melt as well, and that means a mess to clean up.
Don’t use cheese as an alternative.
Hair Creams or Gels
In theory, hair creams and gels are a good option for thermal paste alternatives. They are easy to get, safe, and pretty sticky, so that they may seem like a good idea at first. However, they will start to break down as soon as they get a little warm to make a very lasting option.
Another great option is wax used to remove hair. This doesn’t melt until it gets to an extremely high temperature, and it holds its shape well. You want to start with the hard wax balls, melt them down slightly, and then form them into the appropriate shape. You will get a few weeks of use out of this, but eventually, you will have to replace it.
Other people want to use a moisturizing cream, but that will break down as soon as any heat comes its way. Avoid using anything that may have fragrances or oils because they can cause degradation of the metal.
Another option people seem to like is a banana. Now, by itself, a banana isn’t a great option because you can’t get it smooth enough to fill in all of the little air bubbles. However, when mixed with aluminum powder, a banana could be a viable option if you are willing to take the time to mix everything properly.
This is an interesting option and one that is likely to last pretty long. However, you will have to work very quickly. There is no room for any mistakes because this stuff dries even faster than regular thermal paste.
Some people suggest using beeswax as a thermal paste alternative. This can work for a few days, but beeswax gets extremely crumbly, and you will have to be careful about the wax breaking down. If you can keep it contained, it makes for a pretty good option. Just be sure that you get solid beeswax and not just a product that contains beeswax.
Another option is the sealing wax that people use when sending letters or making crafts. This sealing wax isn’t thick, so you would have to apply quite a few layers until you get a good result. Try to use a sealing wax that doesn’t have extreme pigmentation, or it can stain your equipment.
There are countless solutions, and several, like what’s mentioned above, are homemade thermal paste alternatives. Anything that is at least somewhat of a liquid could be used in an emergency. However, you do have to worry about what any drips or drops would do to the inside of your computer.
You also have to be concerned with decay or rotting, which no one wants to tolerate.
You may also want to mix mucaine into any of the options above. You will have to play around with the percentages. Still, usually about 25 percent mucaine to 75 percent of the other option is a good fix.
Can You Use Toothpaste As A Thermal Paste?
One of the more popular options is to use toothpaste as thermal paste. This is an easy-to-find item that most of us have. It is even a way to use the expired toothpaste that you would otherwise throw away. Even so, it will start to break down after just a few days, particularly in hotter environments. Using the method mentioned below, you can get a few weeks of conductivity out of toothpaste with vaseline.
To make your toothpaste last longer as a thermal paste, combine about eight toothpaste parts with two parts of vaseline. Then mix exceptionally well in a chilled bowl for at least five minutes. The grease in the vaseline can help to prevent breakdown and drying out.
The best way to apply this mixture is actually to use a syringe to apply it. The best syringes are those that you use to give a baby medicine because the point isn’t as fine.
To remove toothpaste from your CPU or other devices, use a 90 percent alcohol and cotton wool—it will eliminate any staining that can sometimes emerge from using toothpaste.
What Types of Toothpaste Work Best? There are certain types of toothpaste that work a bit better. You want a consistent formula that has a good texture. Often formulas that are listed as “whitening” are better. You want an authentic paste here, not a gel.
A Word Of Caution About Thermal Paste Alternatives
If you are going to use any of the alternatives above, use them at your own risk. Each one could destroy your CPU and your computer, so you want to be intelligent about how you use them and even remove the old thermal paste. While using any of the above options, you shouldn’t push your computer or try to overheat it. It would also help to use a laptop cooling pad (if you are on a laptop) or move your tower to a cooler environment.
FAQs For Thermal Paste Alternatives
Before deciding on which thermal paste alternative works best for you, you may want to know a little bit more about what thermal paste does.
What Elements Should Be In A Thermal Paste Alternative?
Thermal paste is an essential element in building or repairing a computer, even if most people have never really heard of it. Interestingly enough, it is also used in smartphones, video game consoles, televisions, and anything else that may generate heat. Without thermal paste, air bubbles can form that trap in heat or limit heat passage, which can cause parts to malfunction and short circuit. In extreme cases, parts may even start to melt!
Almost all thermal pastes are created using a combination of high-quality silicone and zinc oxide. Some brands will include other ingredients, including liquid metal, but these are the basic items in all thermal pastes.
What Does A Thermal Paste Alternative Need To Do?
Thermal paste’s job is to dissipate the CPU heat and transfer it into the air around the device, reducing the overall temperature and supporting fans as they eliminate hot air. Your thermal paste alternative must be able to stay firm in extreme temperatures.
Thermal paste builds what many people call a “Thermal Bridge” between the CPU and the heat sink. These are little empty spaces between the two faces. They are full of air that can quickly become stagnant and lock in the heat, which causes damage, as mentioned above. The surface of the CPU and other devices is filled with air bubbles that make these bridges. Your thermal paste alternative needs to stay in one section and not crumble or crack easily.
Why Do We Need To Replace Thermal Paste?
Since the thermal paste is constantly around hot air, it eventually dries out and cracks, forming those air bubbles again. That is the main thing we face when trying to find an alternative. The unique composition of thermal paste makes it the best option because it lasts for years, rather than hours, days, or weeks like some of the alternatives that people suggest.
Can You Reuse Thermal Paste Instead Of An Alternative?
Another common solution is to reuse thermal paste from older parts. People think they can heat up the thermal paste or chip it off and use glue to put it back on. It doesn’t work that way. Heat won’t make thermal paste get gooey again. Even if you can chip it off in one piece (unlikely), it won’t be able to form to the imperfections, making it ineffective.
Often, simplifying allowing the old thermal paste to remain in place until you can get your new thermal paste is the best option.
Sadly, there aren’t many “good” alternative to thermal paste, even if there are a plethora of options out there.
Handmade thermal pastes are numerous, but the cost of actual thermal paste is so cheap that it doesn’t make sense to void your warranty by using one.