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Best practice for lubricant storage

Many items are given expiration dates so we know if the product has passed its prime and, in some cases, if it has become unsafe to use or consume. Lubricants however, are not given an expiration date so judging the quality of the substance often relies on the end user.

There are a number of factors that affect how quickly a lubricant, oil or grease product retains its optimum quality. The environment in which the product is stored can vastly increase or decrease its storage life with lower temperatures preferred for longer storage. Maintaining a constant temperature is also preferable to fluctuating temperatures if you wish to extend a lubricants storage life.

The type of container that your lubricant is stored in also contributes to the length of its life. Plastic containers or containers with plastic liners protect better against environmental deterioration, and using metal drums (especially ones already in poor condition) will shorten the lubricants’ life at an accelerated rate. Lubricants stored outdoors or in high humidity conditions will also have a much shorter storage life than those kept indoors in dry surroundings.

The base oil of a lubricant also plays a role in determining its shelf life. Base oils that are made from refined mineral oils, synthetic hydrocarbons and other synthetics such as silicon, can be kept for a lot longer than low-grade mineral oil bases and inorganic esters.

Oxidisation occurs when oil comes into contact with air or water and is the process through which lubricant quality degrades. Research shows that increasing the temperature at which the oil is stored by just 10 degrees will double the oxidisation rate which vastly reduces the life of the oil.

If the oil is stored in changable temperatures the rate of oxidisation will further increase. Changes in temperature add to the presence of water within the lubricant which adds to the rate of oxidisation.

To extend the storage life of your lubricants try to choose storage facilities that offer a consistently low temperature. Also ensure that the lubricant is protected from humid conditions and is stored in a clean, suitable container.

For advice on the right oils and greases for your requirements speak to one of our experts now by calling 01543 465 744 or use our online chat facility.