Wednesday, December 7th, 2022

4 Types of Lubricants and How to Use Them

Ball bearings Types of Lubricants

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a working mechanic or a homeowner who’s frustrated with their jammed doors; lubrication is something that can make your lives more comfortable.

From maintenance to rust-protection, lubricants are the one-stop solution that cost you less and provide you more. But do you know how many types of lubricants are there?

You may be missing out on some of the most efficient types of lubricants that can cater to your specific needs, only because of less information. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

Today, we’re going to explore the dynamics of 4 types of lubricants and evaluate their utilities in depth. So grab a pen and a pad because it’s going to be an informative journey.

Without further ado, let’s begin!

Types of Lubricants

Gear processing Types of Lubricants

  1. Oils

Oil is inarguably the most common lubricant, without which every household is incomplete. Yet, how many of you know how this everyday-use lubricant is created?

Well, have you ever heard of polymer? Yes, polymer is the key ingredient that helps in creating this thin liquid. However, polymer doesn’t take all the credit, as various other additives are also mixed to ensure its versatile properties.

Now, why mix these additives? Well, additives are the primary substances that prevent the lubricant from oxidation. Furthermore, additives such as corrosion inhibitors are added to protect the liquid from being inflicted by corrosion. Last but not least, detergents are mixed to make sure that there’s no formation of stubborn deposits happening anytime soon.

Compared to other lubricants, oil is so thin and lightweight that it literally floats on water. Although there’s a wide array of oil types, some of the most common lubricants are sewing-machine oils, synthetic air compressor oils, bar-chain oils, etc.


How is it used?

Oil is one of the most efficient and low-priced lubricants one can come across. The usability of oil is quite vast as a lubricant. For starters, you can use it to smoothen the joints of hinges and bearings.

This is because using sufficient oil to lubricate anything nullifies the chances of resistance from the core. Apart from that, oils are professionally recommended for tool maintenance. As a bonus, one can also use this thin lubricant to wick into a tiny piece.

However, we must warn you not to use oil on the surfaces that are covered with dirt or dust, as it results in a muddy situation nobody likes to handle. Furthermore, make sure to cover the surroundings while using this lubricant, as the minimal viscosity of oil results in frequent dripping.

  1. Greases

If you’ve had any experience at fixing your bicycle gears or chains in your childhood, you’re probably familiar with this lubricant.

Compared to oil, grease is a thicker lubricant that is mainly developed by using mineral oils. To be more precise, more volume is added to grease by adding premium thickeners such as lithium soaps, Teflon, or graphite. The advantage that grease has over oil is higher stickiness, which ensures strong adherence to the surface.

Grease also comes in numerous types, such as white lithium, silicone, and marine grease. Apart from its aesthetically appealing look, this lubricant has a hidden superpower. Yes, it can protect the surface from contamination, corrosion, or similar damage, thanks to its elemental mix.

Fun fact – the range of consistency, when it comes to grease, isn’t fixed at all. In other words, some lubricants may be as thin as syrup, which other greases can be as thick as cheddar cheese.


How is it used?

You can use grease for anything that can also be done by oil, as you can use it on bearings, linkages, chains, gears, etc. More or less, it’d give you the same results, or maybe even better in some cases. However, as an added advantage, it’ll be stickier than oil, of course.

If you’re about to apply grease on a fast-paced mechanism, we’d recommend you avoid thick grease. It causes higher resistance, slowing down the efficiency of the machinery.

However, if you’re planning to stick the lubricant on any surface for a considerably long period, don’t go for cheap greases. Furthermore, you can also seal out dirty contaminants from damaging any surface by using a fair amount of grease.

Also, if you’re a gun-slinging cowboy or just someone who loves collecting artillery, using gun grease can help you maintain these toys for a long time.

  1. Penetrating Lubricants

These are the unsung heroes when it comes to efficient lubrication. Not many have heard about penetrating lubricants, but ask a shadetree mechanic and they’ll tell you that these are quite good.

The actual value of penetrating lubricants is witnessed when it comes to loosening the most stubborn debris and rust under a few minutes. Now, don’t get misled; there’s no chance that penetrating lubricants can outdo oil and grease on the grounds of long-lasting lubrication.

But, its efficiency is unmatchable when it comes to infiltrating the small cracks amidst certain surfaces (for instance, screw threads). Furthermore, this lubricant is quite efficient at breaking up the rust from metal surfaces while adding a temporary lubrication, which is quite useful for heavy-duty mechanical jobs.

Although penetrating lubricant comes in various types, here’s a little trivia for the experimental bugs – you can produce your very own penetrating lubricant! All it takes is mixing a little acetone and vegetable oil at a 10% to 90% proportion, and you have your DIY lubricant!

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How is it used?

As mentioned earlier, these lubricants can be used for numerous purposes. Suppose there’s a bolt stuck that you’re trying to loosen; squirting a little penetrating lubricant before applying the tool makes the job a lot easier. These solutions are lighter than grease and are quite good at getting the work done.

Furthermore, rusting is a common and unavoidable phenomenon that threatens the longevity of machines by a great deal. However, these act as efficient lubricants that can remove the layer of rust from the surface with ease in a short time, with a simple spray.

Furthermore, you can use the penetrating lubricants, especially the DW-40, to infiltrate the small cracks between the surfaces, which makes it the best option for maintenance.

  1. Dry Lubricants

Last but not least, dry lubricants are our final addition to the list. These lubricants are made by mixing several lubricating materials such as graphite, silicon, Teflon, and molybdenum disulfide.

Breaking it down to molecules (literally), this lube is even more slippery than oils, which helps in restricting the friction amidst two surfaces with precision. These lubes are most commonly sold in the market as sprays. However, water and alcohol are two of the most common solvents found amongst the dry lubricants.

After you apply it, the solvent will naturally evaporate and leave an ultrathin film on the surface, which basically gets the rest of the job done. The most common types of dry lubricants are PTFE sprays, graphite sprays, and silicone sprays.


How is it used?

Just like any other lubricant, the most common application of dry lubes is on hinges and locks. Apart from that, these lubes can be applied on both threaded rods as well as 3D printer rails.

The key benefit of using this lubricant is that it doesn’t allow the buildup of any sort of debris or dust. On the contrary, oil attracts dust easily and creates an unholy mess altogether. Furthermore, dry lubricants do not oxidize around extreme temperatures, which makes it suitable for heavy-duty industrial use.

Also, more or less, this lubricant acts as a pretty decent cleaning supplement as well. However, we’d warn you not to use it on surfaces that are exposed to liquids, as it can be washed away easily.


With so much being said, we hope that you’re better informed about the types of lubricants and how to use them. Lubricants may appear as very basic and simple, but they’re quite complex and offer high versatility in terms of usage.

So, the next time you’re planning to infiltrate a screw thread, we hope you won’t mistakenly use oil!

Jokes apart, how informative was this article for you? Did we miss out on anything? Please share your experience with us in the comments section below!

On that note, we’d take your leave for now, but we promise to be back soon with more exciting content.

Till then, stay connected!


Anna Vaughn

Anna Vaughn

Immense painting experience recommends Anna. She shaped The Little Painters, a small local painting workshop for children that invites the little ones to explore painting through simple and creative means in a safe, loving and extremely colorful environment. In her home panting studio she plays with all paint mediums but watercolor is her expertise.

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