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Air tools are known as pneumatic tools that are powered by compressed air. To run these multi-parts machines, we use specially formulated lubricant made from mineral oil or synthetic oil that is designed to protect and lubricate air tools.
This air tool oil is costly and may not be available at the time of your work or need in those situations; it may be necessary to use a substitute for air tool oil. The best substitutes you can use are Synthetic air tool oil, Automatic transmission fluid and Hydraulic oil.
There are more substitutes you can use. Let me elaborately describe all those in this Air Tool Oil Substitutes and Alternatives article to have a better idea of which one is better for your air tool.
Air Tool Oil and its Substitutes and Alternatives
Air tool machines run at a very fast speed; they need oils to lubricate the parts of that specific machine to help reduce friction, wear and excess heat and prevent rust and corrosion. Also, oiling air tools helps to extend their life and prevent them from breaking down.
The main oil types are:
Synthetic oil is a higher-viscosity oil and has additives. This helps to keep the oil better on the parts and gives proper lubrication. Also, helps to prevent rust and corrosion, which ultimately increases the machine’s lifetime.
This air tool oil does not evaporate as quickly because of its less volatile characteristics. But the advantage is that it is an expensive oil.
Mineral-based air tool oil:
This air tool oil has less higher-viscosity oil, has additives and is more volatile than Synthetic oil. This won’t be very effective as it evaporates as quickly and doesn’t lubricate perfectly. You have to apply it more in quick time.
Substitutes and Alternatives
You can use multiple substitutes or alternative oils for air tools. But you have to keep in mind that substitutes do not provide the exact same lubrication and protection as the air tool oil. The substitutes are:
Synthetic air tool oil: Synthetic air tool oil is a great alternative instead of air tool oil. This oil prevents wearing, reduces high temperatures and pressure, remains on the moving parts for a long time and reduces oil use and costs. Another advantage of this oil is that it keeps your machine parts free from rust and corrosion.
Automatic transmission fluid (ATF): This transmission fluid is a good alternative to use instead of air tool oil. ATF contains detergents and anti-foam compounds like elements that help reduce wear and tear and break down the fridge-ness between the parts.
But the disadvantage is that it can’t give you proper safety from rust and corrosion.
Hydraulic oil: Hydraulic oil is another good alternative, like the ATF. This oil also helps to reduce wear and tear and even can reduce pressure and high heat temperatures while working.
But the disadvantage is that it can’t give you proper safety from rust and corrosion.
The 3-in-1 Oil: 3-in-1 is another oil alternative for lubricating air tools. This can reduce friction and reduce temperature while using the tool and give quite good protection and performance.
The disadvantage is that this oil is lightweight and evaporates quickly.
Non-detergent motor oil: Among the multiple varieties of motor oil, 30-weight non-detergent motor oil is a suitable alternative. This is a low-weight synthetic oil that can help with lubrication and cooling while working. As well as reducing rust and corrosion, this oil helps a lot.
Marvel Mystery Oil: Marvel Mystery Oil is a well-known substitute for most air tools. This substitute oil contains tough solvents, which protect you from rust and corrosion. Also, prevents wear and tear.
However, the disadvantage is that it cannot lubricate moving parts perfectly.
Compressor oil: Another substitute is compressor oil, which helps to lubricate properly and helps to cool air compressors perfectly.
But the disadvantage is that it is much heavier and stored as wax on the parts and can’t protect from rust and corrosion.
Power steering fluid: Power steering fluid is another alternative to provide consistent lubrication and protect the power steering system.
But the disadvantage is that it is a tinner oil which evaporates as quickly and has to be applied consistently.
How to choose the right substitute Oil.
It is important to look at the factors or elements while choosing a good substitute for air tool oil. Neither incompatible oil can damage your pneumatic tool.
Viscosity: Viscosity is an important element for air tool oil. It helps to flow the oil through the internal parts fluently and helps with lubrication. The more viscosity the oil has, the more you get better results.
Additives: Additives are the external elements that are included in the oil. Additives should be in your oil to keep your air machine’s internal parts from rust and corrosion, especially in a humid environment.
Temperature range: The substance oil should have the resistance capability to protect your air tool internal parts from freezing and boiling and make sure the temperature remains friendly according to your machine.
Compatibility: Choosing compatible air oil is important; look at the manual first and choose the recommended oils you can use for your particular tool.
The best Brand Oil for Air tools
Why is substitute oil needed?
Earlier, I told you that the air tool oil and substitute oils are not equal, and you may not get the same effective results as the air tool oil. But you should use or may need to use a substitute oil for multiple reasons.
Cost: Substitute oils can be less costly than air tool oil. If you regularly work with air tools, substitute oil can save a lot of money.
Availability: In the area where you work, air tool oil may not be available, or in that area, the air tool oil may be expensive to purchase; that time, you can use a substitute.
Effectiveness: After a long time of use of your air tool, the air tool oil may not be effective enough to have the best lubrication on the parts and performance. At that time, you can use the substitute to perform effectively.
Emergency use: While working with your air tool, you may run out of oil, and you don’t have much time to go to the store to purchase. At that time, you can use a substitute you have in your garage that matches your tool requirements.
Environmental concerns: Air tool oils can be harmful to the environment as it is tough to dispose of or recycle. For that, you can use a substitute oil that is eco-friendly and easy to dispose of properly.
Types of oil you should avoid for air tools.
There are many oils you will see in the market that may not suit air tools; some can even damage your air tools. For that, you have proper knowledge of which is suitable and which is not suitable for your dedicated tool.
To have that idea, first, you should check the tool manual to know the oil recommended for your oil.
Oils you should avoid for air tools or pneumatic tools:
Vegetable oil: Most people use this oil for its availability and low cost, but this oil is not suitable for air tools as this oil is very thin, does not provide enough lubrication on the internal parts and evaporates quickly.
Animal oil: Animal oil is not also a suitable alternative to air tool oil as it is too thick, prevents it from lubrication and jams the parts that can take the tool at one extreme temperature.
Used motor oil: This type of oil is corrupted in harmful particles as it is used earlier, which can easily damage your air tool’s internal parts and reduce the air tool’s lifetime.
WD-40: This spray is not actually a lubricate oil, but people use this as a substitute, which can be a dangerous sign for your tool. It removes moisture from your tool’s internal parts and makes it dry; for that, you can’t use it as air tool oil.
Brake fluid: Brake fluid contains no lubricants and is very thin than air tool oil, which doesn’t stay on the parts. While working, for lack of lubrication, excess heat can occur, which can damage your air tool.
How to use Air Tool oil?
The process of using air tool oil and the substitute oils is exactly the same. Only the amount of oiling and the time of oiling can differ from machine to machine and oil to oil.
- Before working, you should clean the air tool first to keep your tool clean from dirt and debris so that while oiling, the dirt and debris do not enter into the parts and damage the tool.
- Then, drop a few drops of oil on the inlet of the tool to lubricate the moving parts.
- Then, run the machine for a few seconds so that the oil moves all the parts easily.
- After the run, use more oil on the inlet of the tool and on the bearings and gears to have enough lubrication inside or on the parts while working.
- Lastly, take a cloth and use it to wipe away excess oil from the tool and use the tool for working.
Note: If your air tool has an oil reservoir, then keep that fill before starting to work so that while working, when your tool gets out of lubrication, it will provide consistent lubrication.
Air Tool Oiler: This tool you can use to add oil to your air tools. You just have to fill the oiler and attach the oiler mouth with the inlet of the air tool. Then, this oiler will distribute oil through all the parts.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of grease do you use on an air cylinder?
I recommend using silicone oil-based fluid grease; this helps to control the temperature, is resistant to water and chemicals and increases the lifetime. Specifically designed for air cylinders. Also, you can use lithium-based grease and polyurea grease as the substitute or alternative.
Can I use coconut oil instead of WD-40?
I would recommend you not to use both coconut oil and WD-40 in the air tools or instead of air tool oil. Coconut oil is a lubricant, but this oil is very thin, does not provide enough lubrication on the internal parts and evaporates quickly.
On the other hand, The WD-40 is not actually a lubricate. This dries the moving parts of a machine, removing moisture from it, which can create friction and increase heat while running the machine.
What grade is air tool oil?
An air tool oil can be 10W-30 or 20W-50 grade oil, which is ultimately the oil’s viscosity. This viscosity is ideal for lubricating air tools to keep the air tool at an ideal temperature, reduce friction and increase lifetime.
Air tool oil can be used for cost-effectiveness, availability, sometimes more effectiveness, emergency situations and environment-friendly options and lubricate your air tool parts to decrease wear and tear, heat buildup, rust and corrosion and increase performance.
But sometimes you may not get the same level of performance or protection from the substitute or alternatives as you get from the air tool oil, which can damage your tool.
Read the recommended oil mentioned in the manual by the manufacturer and get a suitable alternative for your tool to have better performance and results. Thank you.