Understanding Water Contamination In Lubricants

Lubricants help to reduce friction between two surfaces. This reduces wear on the surface of an object and extends its life. Lubricants are also very important for certain machines because they help to keep them running smoothly without any interruptions. They are used in a variety of applications, including automotive engines, general machines, industrial machinery,  and moving parts in general.

Water is one of the most common contaminants found in oil-based lubricants. It acts as a corrosive agent in lubricants. When water enters a lube system, it increases friction between moving parts. It can lead to serious consequences such as corrosion, rust and sediments on machinery and equipment, which could result in expensive repairs or even downtime.

How Does Water Affect Lubricants?

Water is a powerful oxidizer. When it comes into contact with the lubricant, it can accelerate the oxidation process of the oil. This will increase the rate of ageing and decomposition of the oil. The presence of moisture can also cause microorganisms to grow in the lubricant, which will lead to corrosion, lack of lubrication and damage to metal components. It is imperative to remove water from the oil as soon as it is detected. A good lube oil testing laboratory in India can help you with the required tests.

How does Water get Into Lubricants?

There are several ways that water can get into a lubricant:

  • Condensation from the air may form on metal surfaces as a result of the cooling, leading to moisture being transferred to the lubricant film.
  • The oil or grease may be exposed to external sources of water such as rain or dew.
  • Oil or grease may have been contaminated by water during manufacture.
  • Coolants & Heat Exchangers can trigger water contamination
  • Seepage from other parts of the machinery may contaminate
  • Poor storage and delivery practices can also lead to water contamination.
  • Mechanical damages in a machine like a gasket, seal, cracks, etc may cause water entry in a system.

3 Different Stages of Water Contamination in Lubricants

  • Dissolved Water (water in solution)
  • Emulsified Water (water in oil blend)
  • Free Water (water separated from oil)

Dissolved water turns into emulsified and/or free water when its concentration increases or the temperature of oil decreases. Once the saturation point (a point at which water concentration is high (in ppm) along with the lowest possible oil temperature is achieved, the dissolved water precipitates to turn into emulsified/ free water.

For Example: If the lubricant temperature is 120° F, the water will be present in the dissolved water stage. As the temperature goes low to 80° F, the dissolved water will turn into free water.

(Note: Different lubrication oils have different saturation points).

You should test your lubricants for water contamination as soon as you receive them from your supplier. This will allow you to detect any potential problems early on before they can do any damage.

The Bottom Line

Water in Lubricants is harmful to your engines. Testing for water contamination is a simple and cost-effective way to ensure that your lubricant will provide optimum performance. You should be able to measure the amount of moisture to control it. The most basic detection device is a simple apparatus that measures the water level by dipping a string in water and then measuring its length. There are also more advanced technologies typically used in laboratories for precise determination of the water level in a sample.

 If you are not sure about choosing the right test, consult ChemTech Laboratories, the best Lube Oil Testing Laboratory in India, for comprehensive support. Our testing services will help you experience extended oil drain intervals, save man hours in unnecessary downtime, save you from losses due to sudden equipment failure, and improve the reliability and performance of your lubricants and engines, equipment likewise.

Schedule a Lube Oil Testing today!

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