Greases, Oil and Lubricants

Greases and oils are two common types of lubricants. There are other types, as well, and they all have uses in industry and in everyday applications.


What Are Greases?

Greases are lubricants that are typically used in areas where frequent lubrication would be difficult and where oils would tend to run off of the surfaces that need to be lubricated. They generally consist of vegetable oil or mineral oil, combined with soap. When greases are initially places on a surface, they are in a semi-solid state. As they heat up, however, they become more viscous, providing lubrication for the parts. As they cool down, their viscosity level changes back to what it was. This makes them ideal for some applications.


What Are Oils?

Oils are viscous liquids. Oils do not mix with water, but do mix with other oils. Oils provide a great deal of lubrication. Many oils are also highly flammable. Oils can be used in a variety of different roles. The oils that are used as lubricants can be derived from animal sources, vegetable sources and from petroleum, with motor oil being one of the most common examples of that last type of oil.


What Are Lubricants?

Lubricants are put between two or more moving surfaces as a way to reduce friction. They have the quality that is most easily described as being slippery. They include many different types, including the two listed above and all their subtypes. Lubricants can be used in mechanical applications, medical applications and many other applications.

Lubricants include liquids and on-liquids. Liquid lubricants include an oil base, such as petroleum oil or vegetable oil. Liquid lubricants commonly have additives that help to protect the materials to which they are applied. Household lubricants, for example, usually advertise that they protect against corrosion and other forms of damage, a function of the additives.

The other broad category of lubricants is non-liquid. These include the aforementioned grease. Other substances, such as graphite, are commonly used as lubricants, as well. In some cases, non-liquid lubricants are chosen for their thermal properties. For instance, heat levels that may cause an oil to fail might not affect graphite lubricant at all.


What Types of Greases, Oils and Lubricants Exist?

There are a huge number of different lubricants. They can broadly be separated as liquid or non-liquid, as shown above, but there are other subtypes that are important to know. Some of them are ideal for certain applications and not at all suitable for others, so the differences do matter.

Petroleum based lubricants are one of the most numerous categories of lubricants. They are separated into groups based on base oil that is used in them, their viscosity or their compositions, depending upon which set of standards is being used.

Many oils are not derived from petroleum but, instead, are derived from plants or animals. Vegetable oils include the very common canola oil, sunflower oil and so forth. They are commonly used in foodstuffs.

In some cases, however, vegetable oils are used as bases for oils that are utilized in woodworking and in other applications.

Wool that is derived from animals frequently comes from sheep, whose wool contains lanolin. This is increasingly of interest to those working with alternatives to petroleum.

There is also a family of synthetic oils that were developed in laboratory settings. These are used in many different products.

Solid lubricants include grease, one of the most common and useful for its thermal properties. PTFE is another common solid lubricant. It’s found most notably on non-stick pans and is marketed under the name Teflon. Its lubricant properties are remarkable enough that it has become a euphemism for being hard to pin down.

Some solid lubricants are completely natural. Graphite, for instance, is one of the most widely-used lubricants and is very inexpensive. It is used frequently on locks and in other mechanisms where a liquid lubricant may cause dust and debris to gather and gum up the works. Other solid lubricants include boron nitride and tungsten disulfide.

Some metals have natural lubricant properties. Gold, for instance, is used on some moving parts to prevent friction, as is bronze. There are many other examples of metals being used in this way.


What Are Cutting Fluids? What Are Cutting Fluids Used For? How Do cutting fluids Work?

Cutting fluids are used in metal working. They function to lubricate the tools used to cut and otherwise work metal and they dissipate heat. Some metal cutting processes generate tremendous amounts of heat or variable amounts of heat. The cutting fluid can both reduce and stabilize the overall levels of heat the metal is subjected to, which can have significant impacts on its performance. It can also help to preserve the desirable properties of the metal, which may be destroyed by heat or variations in it.

Where the metal and the tool meet, the cutting fluid provides lubrication that prevents damage to the tool.


What Are Grease, Oil and Lubricant Dispensers? How Do they Work?

Grease, oil and lubricant dispensers are designed to allow for the controlled application of all of these materials.

Most of these dispensers have a tip that is designed to severely limit the flow of the material being applied. An example of this is a grease gun, which usually takes a tube of grease and dispenses it by way of a plunger that is advanced from the back of the tube to the front—pushing the grease out ahead of it—with a trigger.

Other dispensers are designed for liquids. Oil cans, for instance, have a plunger that allows the user to propel oil out of a spout that can be put in position so that the flow of oil reaches specific parts. Many household oils come in containers that are set up as oil cans.

Some dispensers are very small and designed to be used in tight spaces. These are ideal for precise machinery and other applications where it would be difficult to get lubrication otherwise.


What Are Greases? What Are Greases Used For? How Do Greases Work?

At the most basic level, grease is a combination of oil and a material that gives it a thicker consistency than it would otherwise have. The other material is usually soap. Grease can use any type of oil. The grease, once the base materials are combined in the correct proportions, takes on semi-solid consistency. This allows it to be placed in areas where oil would simply run or drip off of the surface, or where movement would cause it to be splashed away.

Grease can be given additional beneficial qualities by adding other lubricants to it. Graphite, for instance, may be added to grease to make it more insulating against friction.

Grease can be packed into mechanical parts by being injected under pressure. This is the most common way that it is applied, in fact.

Grease is most commonly used in moving metal parts. Axels, for instance, are greased to prevent metal surfaces from coming into contact with one another.


What Are Lubricants? What Are Lubricants Used For? How Do Lubricants Work?

A lubricant is any substance that functions to prevent friction. They may have additional functions, but their primary function is always the reduction of friction. They are used whenever two surfaces come together with force and when they have to have something between them that prevents them from directly rubbing against one another.

Liquid lubricants and solid lubricants are both used to a great extent in industry, automobiles and other applications. Lubricants can be place on a surface in many different ways. In some cases, they are held in a reservoir and only dispensed across surfaces when those surfaces start moving, such as in the case of the oil that’s stored in a car’s engine. In other cases, such as with greases, the lubricant may stick to the surfaces when it’s at room temperature and begin to change in terms of viscosity when the parts start to move, the primary benefit of grease.

Some lubricants are solids. Graphite, for instance, can be purchased in the form of a powder that allows it to be applied to most any set of moving parts. It can also be applied to some parts by simply using a pencil.

Lubricants commonly come with additives that give them beneficial properties. They may, for instance, be mixed with corrosion inhibitors. They may also have the effect of carrying away impurities or even be mixed with detergents to make this action more effective.

Lubricants tend to break down over time and have to be replaced or replenished. Car engine oil, for instance, has to be changed at regular intervals due to diminishing lubricating qualities and because it accumulates debris from the engine over time.

Water can—and increasingly does—serve as a lubricant in some cases. It can reduce friction, which is the reason that wet floor signs are necessary when a surface has been cleaned. The water reduces the friction between the bottom of a person’s shoe and the floor, causing slippage, an everyday example of what other, more sophisticated, lubricants do inside machines and in other applications.


What Are Mould Release Agents? What Are Mould Release Agents Used For? How Do Mould Release Agents Work?

Mould release agents refer to lubricants that prevent materials that are formed in mould from sticking to the inside of the mould. For instance, some plastics have a coating on them that prevents them from sticking to an adhesive. When concrete is cast into a form, it has to be removed without it adhering to the form, which is a function of the release agent.

Some release agents are barriers. This means that they form some sort of a physical barrier between the material being formed and the mould itself. In other cases, they may provide the release function by away of a chemical reaction that prevents the two surfaces from sticking together.

There are many different types of release agents on the market, but lately the industry has been moving away from ones that are based on petrochemicals and increasingly using release agents that are water based.

In industrial settings, mould release agents are sometimes sold in spray cans, making it easy to apply them to the inside of a mould and to prevent the moulded material from adhering.


What Are Oils? What Are Oils Used For? How Do Oils Work?

Oils, as was said above, are liquids that are viscous at room temperature. All oils resist mixing with water but do mix with other types of oils. Oils are usually flammable to some degree.

Oils that derive from animal or vegetable sources are referred to as organic oils. They can be made from these sources or they can simply be gathered from sources. Oil is produced by a wide range of living creatures, making it commonplace and easily harvested.

Mineral oils are derived from petroleum. They are actually derived from animals and plants, but the animals and plants from which it is derived died millions of years ago. In those eons, it has undergone a process that has converted it into petroleum, but it still retains the same basic properties as other types of oil.


What Are Rust and Corrosion Inhibitors? How Do Rust and Corrosion Inhibitors Work?

Rust and corrosion inhibition are among the primary functions of oils. The oil forms a barrier between the surface to which it is applied and the outside environment. Rather than coming directly into contact with the surface, environmental threats come into contact with the oil and the oil remains in contact with the surface.

This can be exploited to protect many different types of materials. The inside of engines is protected by corrosion inhibitors introduced into engine oil. Additives are put into lubricants to give them this quality. The oil used on firearms, for instance, protects the steel from rusting. The oil used on bicycle parts provides a barrier against damage from moisture and other contaminants, as well.