Arctic Silver, the manufacturer of Arctic Silver 5, Ceramique and Arctic Alumina thermal compounds as well as Arctic Silver and Arctic Alumina thermal adhesives, recently sent their latest product, ArctiClean, for testing.
Unlike the other products mentioned above, ArctiClean is not a thermal compound or adhesive but 2 separate liquids for preparing surfaces for thermal compound or adhesive. ArctiClean consists of ArctiClean 1 Thermal Material Remover and ArctiClean 2 Thermal Surface Purifier.
More specifically, ArctiClean is a two step process designed for removing previous applications of thermal grease as well as thermal pads (the pink or grey material with a gum-like consistency that is often found on factory installed heatsinks).
ArctiClean 1 is a biodegradable, non-toxic liquid made up of citrus and soy based solvents which emulsify thermal greases or thermal pads. ArctiClean 2 contains cationic surfactants and flash corrosion inhibitors which remove any residue left by ArctiClean 1 and minimize the corrosion layer on copper and aluminum.
That is enough on what it is supposed to do…time for the fun stuff. In order to really test ArctiClean 1, I spent the better part of an afternoon digging though parts boxes looking for an old heatsink that had a rather interesting thermal pad on its base. This was an old heatsink that was ran up to extremely high temperatures when the fan on the unit died and the overclocked processor’s heat had its way with the sink and the thermal material between the base of the sink and the processor.
As can be seen in the pictures, the thermal pad was charred and melted into the not-so-smooth base on this old aluminum sink. Since most waterblocks and heatsinks are not in this dire condition, I also decided to test ArctiClean’s ability to remove Arctic Silver 5 on a copper waterblock that has an exceptionally smooth base.
Upon taking the cap off of the ArctiClean 1, one of the first things I noticed was the citrus scent. It has a very powerful orange scent that is much better than the solvents I have used to dissolve thermal pads in the past. I have to admit, I was a little doubtful that something that did not smell like a toxic chemical dump would be able to handle the charred-on thermal pad that I had managed to dig up.
A few seconds after applying 4-5 drops of ArctiClean 1 to the thermal pad produced results indicating it was in fact up to the job as the edges of the thermal pad began to melt into the liquid. After letting the thermal pad dissolve into the ArctiClean 1 for about 45 seconds, it wiped away easily with just a few passed with a cotton swab.