Lubricants 101: A Beginner’s Guide

Lubricants 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Machinery Maintenance


Lubrication is key to keeping machinery running smoothly and efficiently.  They help protect surfaces and prevent parts from being damaged by heat, dust, and friction over time. They are essential in maintaining the investment of buying valuable pieces of equipment.  Lubricants affect our cars, doorknobs, locks, parts, gears, and pretty much everything mechanical that we use in our homes and jobs. Since lubrication is such an important component in keeping everything moving, it’s a best practice to know the different types of lubricants that are out there, and which one works best for your needs.

In this blog, we’ll be covering the 4 types of lubricants, and what situations call for these different types to be used.

Oils, Greases, Penetrating Lubricants, and Dry Lubricants

1. Oils

The most common industry lubricant is found in plants, factories, and our cars. They can be based in mineral, synthetic, or vegetable oil. These thin liquids come in different weights, also referred to as viscosities. When measuring oil, the general rule is that the lower the weight number, the thinner the oil. For industrial uses, many use mineral oil with a lower viscosity. They are less toxic, less expensive, and easier to dispose of. Mineral oil is heavily refined compared to synthetic oil. Synthetic oil is man-made and often has additives to withstand high temperatures and prevent sludge. Therefore, mechanics promote using synthetic oils because they keep your engine cleaner for longer. Here is a list of oils Jubitz offers by Chevron!

When to use oil:
On car oil changes, hinges, and tool maintenance. Oil doesn’t have the resistance that grease has, so it creates a smooth buffer consistency that can move between parts fluidly. It’s best used when you want to lubricate machinery, but don’t want to take anything apart.

2. Greases

The second most common form of lubricant is grease.  It is made by mixing a base oil + thickener + additional lubricant additives.  Grease functions generally the same as oil, but has a different texture, creating a stickiness that helps it adhere to surfaces better. It’s ideal for high pressure systems, with medium speed and medium temperature.  Though grease does not stand up to high heat as easily as oil, it does provide a beneficial barrier from water and debris. It also comes in textures ranging from semifluid (ketchup) to very firm (pudding).

When to use grease: 

On ball bearings, gears, and linkages.  Grease is best used when you have a heavy load and need it to stick to a surface for a long time.  It can also be used as a sealant, which works when you want to keep water or dust particles out.

3. Penetrating Lubricants

This type of lubricant works best when you’ve got years of rust built up on nuts, bolts, or any fasteners. Its main use is for infiltrating tiny cracks, and breaking things up. This lubricant’s low viscosity allows fluids to seep into the grooves and crevices to break up bolts that won’t budge. They are made up of a lubricant and solvent mixture that helps break down corrosion and cleans the metal underneath. They can remove the residue of tar, grease, adhesives, and rust. After using a penetrating lubricant, they leave behind a temporary, thin, moisture-repellent residue to prevent further corrosion.

When to use penetrating lubricants:

Great for bike chains, hinges, electrical terminals, and casters.  Because of its thinner quality, it’s not advised for ball bearings, or parts that need a longer-lasting lubricant.

4. Dry lubricants

This last lubricant is a solid lubricant to coat surfaces with a dry film or powder that helps reduce wear on machinery. It’s also a great alternative when you can’t use oil or grease.

Dry lubricants generally come in a spray form that will eventually evaporate. They don’t build dirt and grime on a wet residue, and can withstand heat without breaking down or dripping. The most common dry lubricant is graphite, which offers quick drying solutions with long-lasting benefits. It acts like most lubricants, but without the mess.

When to use dry lubricants:  On threaded rods, locks, conveyor belts, hoists, and gaskets.  It creates a film that covers wherever sprayed, and also creates a lubricating feel that can loosen stubborn parts.

Jubitz offers a wide variety of industrial and mobile hydraulic system applications. See the products we carry by Chevron and Philips 66.