The Difference Between Oil and Grease

Often when people think about lubricants, they only think about oil. But oil isn’t the only lubricant equipment owners need to keep their operation moving.

Grease plays a critical part in the health of their equipment and is an essential part for any well-rounded equipment maintenance plan. Grease provides different benefits to keep crucial components protected. To keep your customers’ operations moving and decrease downtime, here’s what you should know about the special role of grease.

How grease is different

Despite their physical differences, common ingredients are found in both oils and greases. The type of base oil, either classified as conventional or synthetic, determines how thermally stable the product is when exposed to extreme conditions. Specific chemical ingredients, also known as additives, are then added to provide each product with a specific slate of benefits.

The biggest difference setting grease apart from oil is its thickener. Grease is a thickened oil, not a thicker oil. The thickener within a grease acts as a sponge, holding the base oil and the additives together. This creates a grease’s semi-fluid or solid structure, as opposed to the syrup-like consistency of oil. This added thickener is crucial when it comes to the applications where grease is needed.

How grease functions differently

At the most basic level, oil and grease both perform the same general function: to prevent metal-on-metal contact and protect equipment from wear. However, there are many ways components move and environments they endure inside equipment.

For intense friction and high-speed applications, an oil is typically the best choice. But other components that endure heavy loads or move vertically typically require a grease. Grease is engineered to stay in place and provide a longer lasting barrier between metal components, such as wheel-bearings.

Grease also acts as an excellent seal. Moving parts that are exposed to the elements are a welcome mat for dirt and debris waiting to contaminate equipment. Grease seals out harmful contaminants, keeping equipment protected for maximum performance and minimum downtime.

How grease maintenance works (not so) differently

Owner’s manuals almost always provide instruction on the oil maintenance routine recommended for a piece of equipment. However, few manuals offer guidance on grease maintenance, even though it’s a vital part of an overall maintenance routine.

Because of its significant role in keeping equipment protected, it is important to use a high-quality grease product. For guidance on the best grease for your customers’ equipment, visit the Cenex Equipment Look-up Tool.

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