Oils for Air Compressors: What Are They and Which One to Use

Similar to cars, lubricated air compressors require regular oiling. The primary purpose of using the correct air compressor oil type is to grease the mechanical components to prevent them from damage due to overuse and favoring air compression. Compressors’ oil designed for industrial use is specifically developed and tested for respective air compressor types and requirements. These oils reduce typical wear and tear, sealing, cooling, and cleaning of the mechanical components. Here, this article discusses everything about air compressors’ oils. 

 What Does an Air Compressor Oil Do?

Air compressor oil is critical to maintaining a healthy compressed air installation. It acts as a coolant and removes the heat generated during compression. A high-quality compressor oil uses many additives to reduce the wear and tear on rotating parts and prevent metal from rubbing against another metal. Simply put, these oils cool down the mechanical system to prevent the element from overheating. 

 Here are some other essential tasks of an air compressor oils:

 Lubricating the rotors and sealing the compression chamber.

  • Oil seals the space in which air is compressed when it flows between the screws.
  • Compressors’ oil cleans the mechanical components by picking up dust participles, carrying them to the oil filter, and flowing back. 

 Which Air Compressor Oil to Use?

 The answer to this question is not univocal and varies depending on many aspects. Usually, which air compressor oil a company should use depends on the type of compressors it uses- from their life cycles to how they are used. 

 Standard oil (mineral oil) and synthetic oil are the two main types of air compressor oils.

 Standard (Mineral) Compressor Oil

 Standard or mineral air compressor oil type is made with a mineral base and is less expensive than synthetic compressor oil. This oil is more volatile and can evaporate more quickly than synthetic oil. As a result, it has a short shelf life. 

 Standard oil features a higher oil carry-over, and thus, it can get into the compressed air network regardless of the downstream components, like the oil separator, oil filter, and others. This oil is best used for compressors that are not used frequently and with lighter applications. 

 Synthetic Compressor Oil

 Synthetic air compressor oil type is made by using a synthetic base. This oil is high in quality and has a longer service life. The shelf life of synthetic oil is 50% longer than mineral oils. Now that this oil is consumed at a slower rate and stays cooler than mineral oil, using synthetic oil industries can extend the life of their compressors. Moreover, synthetic oils reduce multiple deposits that could negatively impact air compressors’ performances. 


 Some compressed air manufacturers recommended using a single oil type for multi-purpose applications. However, enterprises should know that different machines have different requirements, which can’t be fulfilled using one universal and alternative oil. Therefore, an individual should study each air compressor model, what components they have, how they function, and their requirements before choosing the right compressor oil. Both mineral and synthetic oil are considered suitable for air compressors.

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