Lubricants are a must-have for any kind of machinery maintenance. They boast a huge range of practical uses, and are a cheap, effective, and highly proven method of keeping maintenance costs down. Here at Cromwell, we stock a broad range of lubricants from trusted brands such as Ambersil, Molykote® and WD-40©.

What are lubricants?

Lubricants are an oil-based liquid substance that is applied to surfaces in a thin layer to reduce heat, friction, and wear between surfaces. This is achieved by reducing the passive resistance of stationary parts, resulting in smoother movement between parts and less overall wear and tear.

When two hard surfaces come into contact, a large amount of friction is produced as the solid surfaces rub against each other. Even if the surfaces look smooth and frictionless to our eyes, there's a large amount of wear that occurs with each collision at an atomic level. This wastes energy, momentum, and causes wear that builds up over time.

When a layer of lubricant is applied, the moving parts have a protective layer that produces much less friction than the part itself. This is why moving parts work better and last longer when lubricant is used.

Why lubricants?

It's a well-known fact that lubricants are an essential part of keeping machines working effectively and efficiently, as they vastly increase the longevity of any moving part. In addition to this, lubricants can:
• Reduce machine noise
• Significantly reduce heat transfer
• Remove debris and unwanted contaminants
• Prevent corrosion
• Maintain reliability and prevent machine anomalies

When are lubricants used?

The main job of a lubricant is to protect machine components from seizing and rusting. In addition to this, general purpose lubricants have a range of other uses, including:

• Eliminating creaks and squeaks in hinges and other moving parts
• Helps remove unwanted adhesives such as chewing gum
• Removes wax from vinyl surfaces
• Cleans ceramic floors
• Penetrates rust, allowing users to remove rusty nails and fasteners
• Cleans paintbrushes
• Coats pipes in cold weather to prevent bursting or freeze damage

If you have a use-case in mind and you're not sure which lubricant is the best option for the job, feel free to ask our experts for personalised advice.

Types of lubricant

Many lubricants are 'general use', meaning they work effectively across a broad range of uses. However, there are a number of industries that have specific requirements for lubricants, including:

• Food safe lubricants - Food safe lubricants are important for use in environments where contamination to food or other consumables is possible. Food safe lubricants are used on bearings, slides, belts, and chains in food or pharmaceutical factories.

• Dry lubricants - Dry lubricants are used when you're unable to use grease, oil, or other liquid-based lubricants. Dry lubricants are made up of slippery molecules that function in a similar way to regular lubricants. They usually come in spray form, with alcohol or water that will eventually evaporate and leave a dry lubricant behind.

Considerations when choosing lubricants

• Container - Lubricants are typically available in the form of aerosols, tins, bottles, tubes, and tubs. Aerosols and tubes are generally easier to apply - especially to smaller or more intricate parts - however tins and tubs are usually better value for money.

• Effective materials - Some lubricants are more effective on specific materials. Always check that the lubricant you buy is suitable for your usage before purchasing.

Lubricants jargon buster

We want to make it easy for you to shop our range of lubricants, so we've outlined and explained some key terms to help you shop and buy our range with confidence.

What are lubricants categorised as? What are the most common types?

Lubricants are largely split into four types: oil, grease, penetrating lubricants and dry lubricants.

So what does each one comprise of?

• Oil - This is a thin liquid that is usually combined with other polymers with additional properties of benefit, such as antioxidants or corrosion inhibitors. Oil is a commonly used lubricant, however it should not be used on parts or machinery that is dirty or dusty, as this can cause the oil to thicken or "gum up" which can cause resistance.

• Grease - This type of lubricant is usually made from oil with some form of thickener. This is widely used in applications with slower running machinery, as it may cause too much resistance with high speed parts.

• Pentrating lubricants - These are generally used when trying to unseize components such as nuts and bolts. They are designed for short term use only, to split up rust but not as a long term solution.

• Dry lubricants - This tye of lubricant is commonly used when trying to protect machnery or components form a build up of dust or dirt, such as on bike chains.


What are the most common mistakes when using lubricants?

Using lubricants in the wrong way of for the wrong application may do damage to your machinery or components. The most common mistakes to make that you should be mindful to avoid are over or under lubrication, mixing lubricants, lubricant contamination or using the wrong lubricant for your application. It's always best to check that the lubricant you intend to buy is suited for its intended use.