What Are the Different Types of Lubricants and What Are Their Applications?

Overall, the most common application of a lubricant is to reduce interference between two surfaces, but keep in mind that each lubricant is unique.

Lubricating machines is frequently assigned to new employees in the industry because it is thought to be a job for newer workers or apprentices. Although lubrication is a relatively simple task, it is still beneficial to have a thorough understanding of the various types of lubricants. This ensures that the incorrect type is never used for the incorrect application. This will undoubtedly reduce machine downtime and failure.

Let’s start with the fundamentals. Lubricants are classified into four types: oil, grease, penetrating lubricants, and dry lubricants. The two most common lubricants you’ll encounter on a daily basis are oil and grease, but your facility will still use dry and penetrating lubricants. It is critical to understand when and when not to use these various types of lubricants.

The following are some common lubricants and their applications:


Greases are created by combining oil (typically mineral oil) with thickeners (such as lithium-based soaps). Lubricants such as molybdenum disulfide, graphite, and others may be combined with additional particles.

Greases have the ability to mix well with the lubricants in the oil, adding stickiness and allowing the lubricants to collect on the surfaces. Grease can also act as a barrier, protecting surfaces from contaminants that can damage the surface.

Several greases and oils, for example, came in a variety of consistencies. Grease has a disadvantage in fast running devices due to its extreme thickness and sticky nature, which can easily cause resistance.

When Should You Use Grease?

  • As for gears, bearings, chains, and linkages
  • You require the lubricant to adhere to the surface for an extended period of time.
  • You want to keep dust and water droplets out.
  • You may forget to oil the machine because you use it so infrequently.

Grease should not be used in the following situations:

  • Your machine contains fast-moving or fine parts, and grease may cause it to slow down or create too much resistance.
  • Moving parts can fling grease around, making it difficult to keep the area clean.
  • You have fine or fast-moving mechanisms where thick grease would be too much of a barrier.


These thin liquids are made up of long polymer chains with additional additives. Such as antioxidants, which prevent the oil from oxidising, corrosion inhibitors, which prevent corrosion, and detergents, which prevent the formation of deposits. They are difficult to squeeze out between the surfaces of the long chains, but with the application of oil, you can create a slippery barrier between them. Oils have different weights based on their viscosity. Lower numbers indicate an easy flow.

When Should You Use Oil:

  • Hinges, bearings, tool maintenance, and blade sharpening
  • You want to lubricate something without encountering the resistance that is typical when using grease.
  • You require lubrication but do not want to disassemble everything, so you wick the oil into a small space.

Oil should not be used in the following situations:

The machine or part that requires lubrication appears dirty or dusty. Adding oil to a dirty or compromised area will increase friction or cause the oil to “gum up.” Furthermore, if the surface is not clean, oils with a lower viscosity will drip or run.

If the surface is wet or will become wet, the oil will be washed away. This is a common misconception because oil does make things waterproof. However, as the oil absorbs the water, its adhesion decreases and the parts that required lubrication in the first place are washed away.

Penetrating Lubricants

If you’re a shade-tree mechanic, you’ll understand why these lubricants deserve their own section. These lubricants serve as shields for a variety of stuck-bolt combatants. These covered elements, penetrating lubricants, on the other hand, are not designed for long-term lubrication. Because of their low viscosity, these oils are specifically designed for one purpose: to infiltrate the small cracks on the surfaces, increase lubrication, and split up the rust. There are many different types of penetrating oils, but you must know how to make low-cost penetrating oils.

When Should You Use Penetrating Lubricant:

  • Unstucking seized nuts or bolts. This will set them free, whether they are covered in rust or years of debris.
  • Removing chewing gum (it happens), removing adhesive stickers, and performing warehouse repair tasks

Penetrating Lubricant should not be used in the following situations:

  • This product should never be used in place of other lubricants, and it should never be used on bearings or other parts. It is short-lived and will cause damage to your machine.

Dry Lubricants

Specific types of lubricants, such as silicon, molybdenum, graphite, and PTFE, are present in dry lubricants. These particles have a very slippery molecular nature, which reduces friction between these surfaces. They are also available in spray form, where they are mixed with alcohol, water, or other volatile solvents that evaporate after application.

When Should You Use Dry Lubricant:

  • Threaded rods, locks, and hinges
  • Tiny parts that cannot be clogged with grease or surrounding surfaces that must be kept clean
  • You should not use a lubricant that attracts dust or dirt.
  • Surfaces may be subjected to extremely high temperatures or pressures. Oils will begin to oxidise if this occurs.

Dry Lubricant should not be used in the following situations:

Any remaining lubricant will be washed away by exposing the application surface to liquids or solvents.