What is Thread Seal Tape and How Should You Use It?

Thread seal tape is a special type of tape designed to seal pipe threads. Many people refer to thread seal tape as ‘Teflon tape’ in spite of the fact that DuPont – the owners of the Teflon brand – does not manufacturer thread seal tape. They did, however, discover Teflon and the PTFE compound used in thread seal tape.

Thread seal tape is also known as:

-Plumber’s tape

-PTFE (which stands for polytetrafluoroethylene) tape

-Tape dope

Much like we call tissue paper ‘Kleenex’, many people call thread seal tape ‘Teflon tape’. But no matter what you call it, thread seal tape plays the same important role on job sites.

How to use thread seal tape

Thread seal tape is specially designed to wrap around the exposed threads of a pipe before it is screwed into place. The tape is cut to specified widths in order to ensure a tight seal. This tight seal can be used to ensure the safe, lossless transfer of liquids and gases.

Essentially, thread seal tape is a lubricant. It allows threads to be screwed together more tightly and, as a result, is most commonly used for plumbing applications.

Here are a few situations where you may need to use thread seal tape:

-Pressurized water systems

-Central heating systems

-Air compression equipment

-Thread joints with coarse threads

Essentially, thread seal tape can be used for any application involving tapered threads where the sealing force is a wedge action. In layman’s terms, the thread must spiral up or down. Thread seal tape is generally not used to cover parallel threads because parallel threads are intended to be sealed by a gasket.

How it works

Thread seal tape was first developed in 1938 by a scientist at the DuPont research laboratories in New Jersey. After performing tests with gases related to Freon refrigerants, the scientist inadvertently created a white, waxy material known as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).

DuPont began to market PTFE under the name ‘DuPont Teflon’, which is way easier to remember than polytetrafluoroethylene. Teflon became popular due to its high molecular weight, which can exceed 30,000,000 making it one of the largest molecules known today. This unique trait makes Teflon so slippery that virtually nothing can stick to it or be absorbed by it (which is why Teflon cookware is so popular).

Classifications of thread seal tape

PTFE tape is measured by two US standards, including:

MIL-T-27730A: Requires a minimum thickness of 3.5 mils and a minimum PTFE purity of 99%

A-A-58092: Also requires a minimum thickness of 3.5 mils although it adds a required minimum density of 1.2g/cc

The first standard, MIL-T-27730A, is commonly used by industry in the United States despite being an old, obsolete military standard. The second standard, on the other hand, is primarily used in commercial applications.

Fortunately, you generally don’t need to memorize the standards listed above because industry in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand uses a simple color coding system to denote tape thread size:

-White: Used on NPT threads up 3/8 inch

-Yellow: Used on NPT threads ½ inch to 2 inch; often labeled as ‘gas tape’

-Pink: Used on NPT threads ½ inch to 2 inch

-Green: Oil-free PTFE used on oxygen lines as well as specific medical gasses

-Copper: Certified as a thread lubricant but not a sealer; contains copper granules

Buying thread seal tape from Ram Products

Ram Products offers a wide selection of thread seal tape sizes along with a complete lineup of black pipe and brass fittings. Ram Products thread seal tape is made from 100% pure PTFE Teflon materials and is available in packages of 260” or 520”

Thread seal tape serves a great purpose in the assembly of fittings. If you want to form tighter seals and ensure lossless transfer across fittings, Ram Products is here to help.

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