Originally Web posted Sunday, 6 February 2005.
Content last modified Saturday, 9 January 2021 .
External links last verified Sunday, 2 May 2010.

The Ever-Changing Names of My Favorite Contact Cleaning Chemical(s)

Caig cans as they have appeared over the years

Caig Laboratories makes/sells all kinds of chemicals. The few i have personally used, all contact cleaners, have all been excellent.

Mystery Name History

First, there was Cramolin®

For many years, the best general-purpose product of theirs, if a person were only going to choose one (which has never been recommended by Caig Labs), was Cramolin® R-5, a 5% concentration of the Cramolin® chemical in spray form (leftmost in the picture). Unfortunately, that excellent product used Freon® as its propellant.

Then came DeoxIT®

In the mid 1980s, Caig Labs introduced a replacement product with a more environmentally-friendly propellant, which they named De•Ox•It®, more recently DeoxIT®. The 1980s DeoxIT was good, yet had side-effects that Cramolin did not have, specifically making slide potentiometers mechanically sticky and rough, at least until the propellant fully evaporated. The can in the middle of the photo above dates from either the late 1980s or early 1990s… the last time i bought a can (until Dec. 2008… the stuff lasts seemingly forever in hobbyist/homeowner use, used properly). Apparently i missed that Caig Labs has long recommended DeoxIT® Fader Lube (formerly CaiLube MCL) for slide potentiometer applications, so likely the non-suffixed DeoxIT contact cleaner is still suboptimal for this purpose.

Then Cramolin® came back

At some point in the 1990s, Caig reintroduced Cramolin® as a spray, without Freon®. I do not have an illustrative can for this period, as i still had my can of Freon-laden early 1980s Cramolin. I seem to recall that Caig was selling both Cramolin and DeoxIT in this period, further confusing the issue.

Something Different: ProGold®

Also in the 1990s (i believe), Caig introduced a new contact cleaner, ProGold® (can on the right in the picture). This new, more expensive cleaner was (and is) primarily intended for gold and gold-plated contacts, though Caig claims it may also be used with non-gold contacts, as for DeoxIT/Cramolin, with excellent results.

Because i had been using Cramolin and/or DeoxIT on gold contacts for years with great success, only more recently (early new millennium) did i obtain an actual can of ProGold and start using it. To date, i have not noticed a difference, however i am in no way doing any sort of scientific study: each application of either chemical is usually a new use with no prior track record. As of early 2009, Caig Labs has somewhat clarified their intended usage of these two products, discussed further below.

Full Circle

Wonder how long one can go with these products? After an initial order in the mid-1980s, i finally had to re-order in December 2008. With a 20+ year life span, one can readily understand why i at least do not mind the at-first seemingly high prices for these products.

To my amusement and surprise, in addition to the usual name changes, i discovered that we have now come full circle. To understand this, i need to explain some history not discussed above.

Back to the Very Beginning

Before the Cramolin sprays, there was Cramolin in liquid form. Most memorable to me are Cramolin Red (which took me about 25 years to use up the R-100L 2 oz. bottle) and Cramolin Blue 100% concentrations. These were also available in reduced concentration liquids and the 5% concentration sprays.

The idea was that Cramolin Red (in whatever form) was for initial treatment of contacts, especially if there was any residue to be removed. Cramolin Blue was a follow-on treatment for dirty contacts to further clean and preserve them, or a single treatment for newly-manufactured electrical contacts to keep them working at their best from the get-go. Because i only dealt with dirty contacts and because these chemicals struck me as expensive, i only ever purchased the Red products (as did the shop where i worked, where i initially learned about Caig products). Caig made the case for Blue, yet not strongly enough for people like me, i guess.

December 2008: What Is Old Is New

During my December 2008 re-ordering research, i learned that Caig is now telling us that DeoxIT is the treatment of choice for all contact materials which may be dirty, contaminated, or otherwise not really clean (taking the place of the old Cramolin Red). The apparently recently re-named DeoxIT Gold (formerly ProGold) is now being marketed as the follow-on treatment of choice to best preserve any contacts after a DeoxIT treatment (taking the place of the old Cramolin Blue). My friends, we have come full circle!

For anyone wondering what this long-time Caig user chose to reorder, i purchased:

I did not need to purchase DeoxIT Gold G5 spray as i still have a good bit of ProGold G5 spray. The first time around (circa 1983), i purchased the 2 oz. bottle of R-100L because it was the best value per measure. After some spills and lots of liquid loss to cotton swab applicators over the years, i learned that i might as well get the needle drip applicators and not lose so much in the storage and transfer process. Indeed, this may prove to be the better value, and will surely be less wasteful.

Now that i am experimenting with the 2-step approach Caig has been recommending for decades (since before i knew they existed), it will be interesting to find if there are any noticeable changes in the results: i have had to go back and re-clean many items treated only with R5, D5, or R100L. Allegedly, this should be less necessary with the 2-step treatment. Nothing to report so far.

Can It Get More Confusing?: Original Cramolin Red Liquid Not Made by Caig Labs

News flash in my world, April 2010: Greg Szekeres, who also appears to have extensive experience with contact cleaning chemicals, contacted me with some name-game-changing information: Caig Labs marketed the original Cramolin® Red (and i guess Blue)… they did not create it. It appears that the original creator was R. Schafer & Co.

My reading of the information (especially the letter from Mark Lohkemper) is that the sprays were Caig derivations of the pure liquids, which would not have existed without R. Schafer & Co.… nor without Caig Labs. Since apparently R. Schafer & Co. apparently did not sell Cramolin in spray form, i consider the sprays to be Caig-original products.

So… it seems that in addition to dealing with name changes, we’re dealing with different products.

Readers interested in more information on this controversy and/or information on a wide spectrum of different electrical contact cleaners/preservatives/enhancers will find a solid chunk of information at Greg S.’s site on his Contact Cleaners, Protectors & Enhancers for Electronics page.

What About Now?

Caig’s Recommendations

While their documentation has improved greatly regarding which product to use for which purpose, the situation is still not 100% clear, at least to me. As of the last external links verification date of this page, Caig Labs recommends (Mentor_Cards_2006_av.pdf, page 5):

  1. STEP ONE: Apply DeoxIT® contact cleaner. Any contacts and connectors that conduct electricity are candidates. DeoxIT® cleans the surface, removes oxidation, and leaves a light, microscopic layer of protection.
  2. STEP TWO: Apply either DeoxIT® GOLD or DeoxIT® SHIELD.
    Both are companion products to DeoxIT® contact cleaner, and add longer lasting protection. The determining factor is the environment to which the contact or connector will be exposed.
    For most indoor uses, DeoxIT® GOLD is the product of choice. DeoxIT® GOLD not only keeps your contacts and connectors in excellent condition, it improves their performance.
    For “harsh environments” (e.g. pollutants, salt air, high humidity, outdoor use, extreme temperatures, etc.) use DeoxIT® SHIELD. DeoxIT® SHIELD provides maximum protection for your metal contacts and connectors.

Yet only one page later (page 6 of Mentor_Cards_2006_av.pdf), they state:

NOTE: Use DeoxIT® GOLD on plated surfaces (i.e., gold or other precious metals).

They also discuss the matter on their page Why DeoxIT®, DeoxIT® GOLD and DeoxIT® SHIELD are Different? There is more information available at the Caig site, yet because they are using frickin’ broken dynamic HTML, i cannot provide you links to the best/most relevant materials there.

Current Products

As of the last external links verification date of this page, the following items were available from Caig Laboratories which fill the product niche originally occupied by the original Cramolin R-5 5% spray:

The easiest path may be to go to the Caig DeoxIT product family page.

Note: I have no affiliation with Caig Laboratories, other than as a satisfied customer. If i did, i would let them know that their website, while better than it used to be, still needs serious help (mostly “under the hood”). As of January 2009, the content has improved: it is now fairly easy (when the site works) to find Caig’s own descriptions of the name changes and which products are best for what purpose. Yet the implementation remains a train-wreck: HTML violations all over the place, egregious server errors, and related unnecessary hassles. If you find any broken links to their site, which is likely, search on one or more of the product names above, and consider letting them know that they are making it difficult for folks like me to hook up folks like you with their good products.

Historically, Caig has been more than happy to provide literature and information regarding the use of their many products and which to choose for particular applications. This page of mine discusses only a few of their dozens and dozens of products. These are the only Caig products i personally use—for everything. You may well want to spend some time on the Caig website and decide for yourself which of their many products best suits your needs.