01 December 2007

5 Important Properties You Should Understand About Lubricating Oil

Lubricating oil has the following properties: the ability to resist heat, viscosity, the ability to control corrosion, oxidation stability, and water-handling.

A lubricant is defined as a substance, usually in liquid form, applied between two surfaces that are in close contact with each other. It is used to decrease the friction between these surfaces thereby decreasing the probability of wear and improving efficiency. The term lubricity is used to describe the ability of lubricants to lubricate moving components and subsequently reduce the friction that results. Some specialty lubricants are formulated to dissolve foreign debris and contaminants and used in transferring heat. Many industries also use these lubricants to suit various operating conditions, different equipment needs and distinct processes. It is important to understand the additional properties that lubricating oil can have in order to fully appreciate its uses and how it can be applied.

Ability to resist heat

When two objects rub against one another, friction is created and, consequently, heat results from the friction. Because of this natural reaction, it is essential for a lubricating oil to remain chemically stable even when exposed to heat from various industrial operations and conditions. Otherwise, if lubricating oil is not heat-resistant, oxygen can easily mix with the oil and unwanted compounds may result. Carboxylic acid is one such resulting compound that can erode and cause significant damage to various metal surfaces. Because of lubricating oil's ability to resist heat, it is best used for systems that are at high risk of breakdowns caused by heat or thermal failures.


Viscosity refers to the property of a fluid to resist the slippage of its components. Normally, when lubricating oil is exposed to rising temperature, its viscosity diminishes. In certain operations, this property is modified in such a way that the viscosity range of lubricating oil will remain within appropriate limits despite exposure to changing temperatures and variable environmental conditions. The lubricating oil’s viscosity is also used to determine how thick the layer of the oil is in between metal components during reciprocal motion.

Ability to control corrosion

Lubricants that have been improved and specially formulated usually contain additives like dispersants and detergents that contain anti-oxidants as well as the ability to prevent carbon-forming deposits and corrosion. The property of lubricant oil to control corrosion is a fundamental objective of lubricant formulation. Its resistance to corrosion makes it important for forming protective seals around a variety of surfaces and protecting metallic components and machineries from corrosive damage.

Oxidation stability

Most lubricant oils are made in such a way that they inhibit the oxidation rate. Many powerful lubricant oils sold commercially are especially formulated to withstand the oxidation process. Examples of these include turbine oils and synthetic lubricating oil.


In static environments and conditions, it is crucial for lubricating oil to shed water. When lubricant oil has a decreased water-handling capacity, it could be a sign of diminishing or faltering effectiveness of the oil’s other properties; there is also a risk that emulsions can form.

Lubricating oil plays a crucial role in many industries and operations. The different properties of this substance can contribute to significant effects in the operations where they are applied.

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