The Types of Maintenance Oils for Air Compressors

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    • Not all oils are created equal.bottle of oil image by Adrian Hillman from

      According to an article published in Machinery Lubrication Magazine, "The choice of a compressor lubricant depends on the type and construction of the compressor, the gas being compressed, the degree of compression and the final outlet temperature." The following is a list of air compressor lubricants. However, it is by no means complete because each manufacturer may have its own special blend.

    Air Compressors and Lubricants

    • There are three types of air compressors: reciprocating, rotary screw and rotary vane. Each compressor has a different use, and individual manufacturers may recommend specific lubricants that they have tested for best performance with their machines. Lubricants serve not only to reduce friction in bearings, gears and couplings, but also to act as a coolant and help maintain a constant temperature.

    Food Grade

    • Food grade air compressor lubricants are formulated according to FDA standards so that any contact with the air will not contaminate the food. This oil is designed for use in rotary screw compressors with incidental air contact. It can handle a wide range of temperatures and is formulated for long hours of use before drainage.

    Polyglycol Ester Coolants

    • Polyglycol Ester is a synthetic oil. It gives its best performance in high temperature air compressors under adverse conditions. This oil is also biodegradable.

    Polyol Ester

    • Polyol Ester is designed for use in rotary van and screw compressors. This oil is 90 percent biodegradable and will provide up to 10,000 hours of protection before it needs to be replaced. It is considered superior to diesters, petroleum or Polyalphaolefins (PAO).

    Polyalphaolefins (PAO)

    • PAO works best with rotary screw compressors. This particular oil also prevents rust and protects against wear. It is compatible with most oils, so conversion from a mineral oil system should be hassle free.

    Silicone Oil

    • Silicone oil is designed for use in rotary screw compressors. This is another wide temperature range oil. It protects against rust, corrosion, oxidation and wear.

    Petroleum and Mineral Oil

    • Non-fuel grade petroleum and mineral oil are old-school lubricants. With the advent of synthetic oils that can provide superior protection at higher temperatures over longer periods of time, these oils are rarely used in industrial or long-term applications.

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