What is better for LSS – special liquids or distillate?

The debate about which fluid to use in liquid cooling systems continues to this day. Some argue that you need to use special fluids recommended by companies involved in the production of LSS components. Others argue that using distillate is enough. In this article, we will look at the pros and cons of both liquids.

In a liquid cooling system, the liquid – or, in other words, the coolant – plays the role of a heat transmitter from the removing element (water block) to the dissipating element (radiator). In this case, it is desirable to protect the components of the circuit from corrosion, to ensure reliable operation of the pump and to prevent the appearance of microorganisms.

Characteristics
If we compare a special liquid and a distillate, then they transfer heat differently. The distillate transfers heat better due to its better heat capacity, however, the special liquid contains additives that protect the LSS components and extend their service life. One of the most common additives you’ll see in coolant fluids is propylene glycol. Its specific heat capacity is lower than that of the distillate.

Characteristics

Value

propylene glycol

Water

Specific heat capacity, 20°С

What about tests?
Given all the additives that are in the special liquid, the heat capacity of the distillate is better. However, real tests show results at the level of error.

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LSS circuit test with distillate

LSS circuit test with ready-to-use liquid for LSS

If you pour liquid for liquid with a dye into the LSS circuit, the system will look more attractive.

However, if the dye is improperly stored, transported, or subjected to thermal stress, it can precipitate, thereby clogging the microchannels in the water blocks. Therefore, before pouring a colored liquid or concentrate, it should be inspected for the presence of flakes or sediment.

Improper fluid storage, hypothermia and subsequent overheating

It is also recommended to pour the liquid into a clean container and cover with cellophane to check it for any changes: precipitation, debris. The same applies to distillate, no matter what company you buy it, it is also worth checking for the presence of any precipitation.

Small trash in dis

Are liquids dangerous to the body?
Most of the refrigerants sold for LSS do not have a pungent odor or taste, but are toxic due to their additives. An example is ethylene glycol, which is odorless, colorless and slightly sweet in taste. The ingress of special liquids for LSS into the body can lead to turbidity or poisoning – which will have a detrimental effect on the human body. As for distilled water, you can drink it, but not constantly. The constant use of distilled water can affect metabolism, digestion, the state of the heart and blood vessels due to the lack of useful minerals in this water.

So what to pour?
If only these factors are taken into account, then it is better to pour distillate into the LSS circuit. But do not forget that in any liquid there are chemical and biological elements that, to one degree or another, affect the components of the LSS.

Of the biological components – organic. In the presence of organic matter in the liquid, flowering occurs, pollution appears, and the composition of the coolant changes. It is impossible to get rid of organics in the LSS circuit without the addition of special biocides. It should be borne in mind that biocides must be added immediately to the liquid in the LSS circuit, and not after a while, since biocides do not kill organic matter, but prevent its reproduction. In addition, corrosion inhibitors are used. They are necessary if there are galvanic pairs in the circuit:

for aluminum and its alloys – copper and its alloys, nickel, tin, lead, silver, steel, titanium;
for copper and its alloys – aluminum and its alloys, cadmium, tin, lead, steel, zinc;
for nickel – aluminum, silver.

Service
Using only distillate, you will have to change it every half a month or a month in the entire circuit, draining it almost to zero. The procedure is simple, but given that in some computers the coolant circuit can be complex, the process of replacing the fluid can take a long time.

With liquids from companies involved in the production of LSS components, the replacement process is recommended once every six months, or a year.

Every rule has exceptions. There are colored liquids called “pastel” or “pearl” liquids. They have a very hard dye, which will precipitate rather quickly, and you have to put filters in the LSS circuit.

But let’s be honest – most of these liquids are poured for the sake of a show or when demonstrating an interesting project. In everyday use, such liquids are rare and cost significantly more than ordinary colored liquids.

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Another reason why many vote for distillate is the price, as specialty liquids are expensive. But when choosing a distillate, many people forget about the chemical additives that manufacturers add. By adding chemical elements to their liquids, the manufacturer aims to protect the LSS elements from corrosion, which adversely affects the life of the LSS.

Also, the chemical elements added by manufacturers to the refrigerant help the liquid become dielectric, and, in the event of a leak, do not damage the components of a personal computer on the coolant. In the case of a distillate, it is not necessary to speak of its complete dielectric properties. Since it is unrealistic to obtain an absolutely pure liquid that does not contain chemical and biological components, and over time, due to organic matter, the properties of the distillate change completely and can lead to a short circuit in case of leakage. For these reasons, companies recommend changing fluids constantly so that they do not lose their properties.

Water hammer in LSS – myth or reality?
A few years ago, the topic of water hammer and failure of the pump bearing was very relevant. Since at that time the liquid entered the tank from above and, after turning on the pump, it hit the tank with force, which could lead to a water hammer.

Foamed liquid has air bubbles. These bubbles enter the pump and it starts to work “dry”, which led to the death of the pump bearing.

To prevent this from happening, they began to use small tubes, the name of which is Internal tube .

Finally
Summing up, we can say the following: the distillate is the basis for the liquid in the LSS systems, to which additives, biocides and optional dyes must be added. Liquids from companies that manufacture LSS components are a finished product that can be immediately poured into the LSS circuit and not be afraid of its premature failure.