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The risks of mixing greases

Mixing greases in a working environment is easy to do and mistakes can occur from simple actions such as using the wrong grease gun. To add to this the confusion, parts are sent off to contractors for repairs, or new parts arrive with different greases and it can be tough to manage. However, effectively managing your grease application can save you money in repairs and make your machines last much longer.

Different machines require different types of grease to operate at optimal performance. Manufacturers often specify which type of oil should be used, this will include; viscosity, base oil type, thickener type, and additives - failing to use the right lubricant usually invalidates the warranty of the machine and may result in an expensive repair bill!

In a working environment, accidentally mixing greases or using the wrong type of grease for the machine is easy to do. Its also easy to spot when this has happened, some of the key warning signs are;

  • The grease will become softer at a faster rate.
  • The thickeners within the lubricant interact and become runny - in some cases even bleeding out of the bearings resulting in a loss of large amounts of oil & additives.
  • In some cases, the grease can harden when mixed with an incompatible lubricant.

To help users determine the compatibility of different greases there are various compatibility charts available. However, industry professionals argue that these charts are not effective when it comes to real-world application. The charts are determined through basic tests where greases are simply mixed together for a few minutes and the results recorded. This type of test doesn’t give an accurate representation of what happens when the greases are mixed and put under pressure over a longer period of time.

Experts recommend that mixing greases should be avoided as much as possible, however in some cases where it is not cost-effective to do so or a particular type of grease has been discontinued this can be hard to avoid.