The art of "seasoning" the IHS
SEASONING THE IHS
As you may know, bare copper will absorb Gallium, one of the key components in Liquid Metal TIM.
Typically, TIM is a mixture of certain metals that while normally solid at room temperature, will become liquid at room temperature (hence the name “liquid metal”).
The liquid state depends on the mixture ratio of these metals.
The problem happens when some of the Gallium is absorbed into the copper IHS. This changes the ratio and the previously liquid metals now become solid again.. welding your IHS to the CPU.
Long ago we came up with the idea of “seasoning” the IHS with Gallium to slow the absorbtion of Gallium and prolong the life of the CPU. We also found that this provides additional reductions in temperature. A welcome bonus!!
Steps to Season the IHS
- Gather needed tools.
Quicksilver - less expensive than most TIM and has a very high Gallium content plus it’s included with the delid / relid kits
Flitz Polish – included with copper IHS and delid / relid kits
Swabs – included with the delid / relid kits
Fine abrasive pad – 3M gray about 25 to 30mm square. Included in our cleaning kits (may be able to use the green ones that are used to wash dishes)
Orange Oil Cleaner – The strong stuff, not the household variety from Amazon. Included in our cleaning kits (WD-40 will also work)
Paper towels – What do you need? "Towels, lots of towels"
Acetone – Alcohol is not strong enough. Get it at most pharmacies, Amazon, Homedepot, Walmart, Target and even most grocery stores. 100% acetone only !!!!
- Clean the pad where the IHS contacts the CPU with acetone. Apply quicksilver to the pad where the IHS will contact the CPU. Lay it on thick. (just like applying Liquid Metal but much thicker)
- Let the IHS sit with the quicksilver applied. 1 hour?? Not worth the time. 1 day?? Getting there. 1 week?? Now you’re ready. Gallium doesn’t soak into the copper quickly, the longer you let it sit, the better it will work.
- Use a paper towel to remove the quicksilver. There should be hard areas where the mixture has already become unstable. A little Orange Oil on the paper towel will help (WD-40 works too)
- With the abrasive pad, apply Orange Oil or WD-40 to the pad and start scrubbing the pad where the CPU contacts the IHS. You can use a scraper such as the bamboo stick we send with our kits to remove chunks that may have accumulated.
- Clean the pad, oil again and scrub until you can just start to see copper color show through the silver Gallium.
- Polish the area with Flitz until it looks good.
- Clean with acetone (MUST BE CLEAN OF ALL OILS)
- Apply the liquid metal TIM of your choice and relid per normal.
Things to watch out for
- Scrub until you start to see the copper color. This is critical. Don’t go too far. Once you see the copper color. Stop. Typically it will start in the middle first and that’s your sign.. done.
- Don’t worry about getting a little Gallium on the underside of the IHS, it will not hurt anything and is not that easy to clean off. Just make sure it’s not in the area where you will apply the glue.
- Clean everything with acetone. Clean, clean, clean and clean again just before applying the TIM or glue. (This applies to the CPU as well)
- When applying TIM to the IHS. You only need the thinnest of layers. Typically your swab will have enough left on it left over from applying to the CPU. Just paint it on the IHS.
We have been using this technique since 2018 on our delid/ relid service and even after 2 - 3 years have not found a problem with the IHS sticking to the CPU.
P.S. this technique can also be used on an old IHS that may have TIM hardened on it.