Maintenance Services Direct

Types of Lubrication

Types of Lubricants and How to Use Them

Almost everyone as heard of Lubricant in one form or another, Do you have that door that makes an annoying squeak everytime you open it? Do you have that sticky padlock on you garden shed or outbuildings? How about a stiff or hard to open window? Dont rush out just yet and grab the WD-40 (Other lubricants are readily available).

One of the most common applications or uses for a lubricant is to reduce friction between two or more surfaces, but did you know that not all lubricants are equal?

The following guide will give you a little understanding of some of the most common forms of lubricant and some of their uses.


Oils are generally thin liquids manufactured from Long Polymer Chains with the addition of various additives to each bring different properties to the oil. Some of the most common additives include antioxidants to help prevent the oil from oxidizing, corrosion inhibitors to prevent parts from corroding and detergents can also be added to help stop deposits from forming.

The Long Chain Polymers withing the oil are hard to squeeze out when placed between surfaces, making oils useful as a slippery barrier between them.

Oils come in varrious different viscosities such as 5W or 10 W, this can also be reffered to as “WEIGHT” or “WEIGHTS”.  The lower the number the THINNER the oil and the easier it will flow.


Uses for OilsTypes of Lubrication - Oils

  • Hinges
  • Bearings
  • Maintenance of Tools
  • Sharpening blades

Types of Oils

  • Motor Oil
  • 3 in 1 oil
  • Sewing machine oil
  • Chain Oil
  • Penetrating oil

When to use Oils

  • Lubrication is required without the resistance often associated with using Grease.
  • You need lubrication to wick or flow into a small space, without the need to take anything apart.

When NOT to use Oils

  • DO NOT use Oils if the area is to be exposed to dust or dirt, This will eventually gum up and create more friction which could result in premature wear.
  • There is a requirement to keep the surrounding area CLEAN, this is because oils are generally LOW in viscosity and have a tendancy to drip or run.
  • The surfaces are exposed to water or anything that could wash the oil away. Oils are often thought of as water resistant but they will actually absorb water over time, the more water absorbed the lower its adhesion will be, this will result in the oil being washed off the parts that require lubrication.


Greases are manufactured from Oil (typically Mineral Oil) and then mixed with thickeners such as lithium based soaps. Additional lubricating particles are often added to help improve the Grease or make it suitable for a particular application. Typical Lubritcating particles include Polytetrafluorethylene (PTFE), Molybdenum Disulfide and Graphite.

Greases offer a combination of the properties of Oils with added stickiness which allow the Lubricant to adhere to the surfaces better and resist wash off. Greases come in a range of consistencies from a consistancy similar to double cream to thicker versions. Greases offer better protection of the surface being lubricated because they stop any dirt or dust from reaching the surface and causing premature damage.

There is however a trade off because of the thick and sticky nature of Greases, this can cause resistance in small or fast moving mechanisms.

Uses for Greases

  • Chains
  • Linkages
  • Bearings
  • Gears

Types of Greases

  • Marine Grease
  • Lithium Grease
  • Silicone Grease

When to use Greases

  • Use when you need the lubrication to stay put and stick to the surfaces over a longer period
  • You use a machine or mechanism so infrequently that you may forget to Oil it
  • There is a requirement to keep out contaminants such as dirt, dust or water.

When NOT to use Greases

  • When there is a requirement to keep the area or surrounding parts clean as Grease as a tendency to fling off as the parts move
  • When you have fine or fast moving mechanisms where thick grease would create too much resistance.

Types of Lubrication - Greases

Penetrating Lubricants

Most Mechanics or Mechanical engineers would place the Penetrating Lubricants high on their MOST USED list due to the excellent job they do. Penetrating Lubricants are most usefull when loosening stuck Bolts/Nuts, Shafts, Gears etc. They are also good at penetrating through years of rust and debris.

Penetrating Lubricants are not designed to offer long term lubrication because of their Low Viscosity and the additives that are designed to infiltrate the tiny cracks and holes between surfaces such as screw threads.

Many different Penetrating Lubricants (Oils) are on the market today which are often expensive when brought in smaller volumes. You can however make your own Pentrating Lubricants that perform as well as the most common Penetrating Lubricant WD-40 at loosening stuck Nuts/Bolts.

To make your own Pentetrating Lubricant you will need:

  • Vegetable Oil
  • Acetone (Often used as Nail Polish remover)
  • Glass or Metal mixing container (BE EXTRA CAREFUL when mixing as Acetone is FLAMMABLE and will melt many plastic containers)
  • Sealed container to keep the finished product in.

To make your own Penetrating Lubricant simply mix 90% vegetable Oil with 10% Acetone.

Prior to use give it a little shake as Vegetable Oil and Acetone tend to seperate over time.

Dry Lubricants

Lubricating Particles such as PTFE, Silicone, Graphite and Molybdenum Disulfide make up Dry Lubricants. These particles are extremly small at Molecular level and are very slippery, therefore they reduce the friction between surfaces in contact with each other. Dry Lubricants are most commonly found in Aerosol form mixed with a solvent of some sort that will evaporate away after application thus leaving a thin film of Dry Lubricant behind.

Uses for Dry Lubricants

  • Locks
  • Hinges
  • Printer rails
  • Threaded Bar or Rods

Types of Dry Lubricants

  • PTFE Spray
  • Silicone Spray
  • Graphite Powder or Spray
  • Molybdenum Disulfide Spray

When to use Dry Lubricants

  • Lubrication of tiny parts that shouldn’t be gunked up by Greases or Oils
  • When there is a requirement to keep surrounding areas clean
  • High temperature surfaces or High pressures which would typically oxidize Oils

When NOT to use Dry Lubricants

  • When surfaces are exposed to water or solvents that can wash Dry Lubricants away.



The above guide is meant to offer an insight into a small selection of Lubricants available today and is in no way a recommendation. Maintenance Services Direct can NOT be held responsible for any damage or injury to Persons or equipment.

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