It’s often confusing to know whether you need a grease, oil, or lubricant. Is there a difference between each one? What actually is a lubricant? Which one should I use for my project? These are all valid questions, and our handy guide below has the answers you need!

Grease, Oil or Lubricant?

To begin with, let’s check out the Collins Dictionary definitions for each term:

Grease:

  • “Grease is a thick, oily substance which is put on the moving parts of cars and other machines in order to make them work smoothly.”

Oil:

  • “Oil is a smooth, thick liquid that is used as a fuel and for making the parts of machines move smoothly. Oil is found underground.”

Lubricant:

  • “A lubricant is a substance which you put on the surfaces or parts of something, in particular something mechanical, to make the parts move smoothly.”

From these definitions, we can understand that all three substances are ideal to help maintain moving parts of machines. Great. But what is the real difference? How do you know which one is best to use for each of your projects? To delve deeper into the world of lubrication, let’s take a look at the composition of each substance.

Characteristics

There are three different categories of lubricants: solid, liquid, and paste. The difference in viscosity between these types can make some better for specific tasks than others. Oil is an example of a liquid lubricant, which can be characterised by its fluid state. Oil is also hydrophobic, meaning it repels. Grease is an example of a paste lubricant, distinguished by its thicker, tacky consistency.

Grease or oil?

Now that we have established a difference between grease and oil, how do we know which one to use for our never-ending DIY tasks?

Grease tends to be better for projects that require a heavy load, or for lubricating areas that won’t be accessible frequently. This is because grease can stay in place for longer periods of time due to its viscosity, so therefore it does not need to be replaced as often as an oil would. Grease can also create a protective barrier between heavy machinery components, as it can be subjected to extreme conditions including high pressure and a vast range of temperatures.

Oils are better for smaller or high-speed machinery, and parts that require more control whilst maintaining. This is because it is easier to drain and regulate the amounts of oil used. Oil is also superior for protecting surfaces, as it can preserve the lifetime of bearings by up to 50% in comparison to grease. This is because the oil will create a smoother layer of protection, whilst also combatting against corrosion and ageing.

WD-40® Grease and Oil

Did you know that WD-40 offers a range of lubricants that are ideal for every professional and DIY project? Here is your go-to list to see which one will be perfect for you and your job at hand:

WD-40® Grease Range

  • WD-40® High Performance White Lithium Grease Spray – for heavy duty, metal on metal jobs. This anti-drip grease lubricates, maintains and protects efficiently, and is water and heat resistant.
  • WD-40® Long Lasting Spray Grease – this comprehensive high viscous grease comes with a handy spray straw that allows you to get into small and tricky spaces with ease. You can also use this lubricating spray on vertical surfaces due to its strong adhesion properties.

WD-40® Oil Range

  • WD-40® Multi-purpose Cutting Oil – This easy-to-use spray oil maximises the life of your cutting and drilling tools by reducing friction and preventing pitting and seizures. It is perfect to improve the performance of stainless steel and titanium mechanisms, so you always get the best out of your tools!
  • WD‑40® Multi-Use Flexible Straw – This penetrating oil formula is the ultimate all-rounder for easy cleaning, degreasing, lubricating and protecting. This product also comes with an innovative bendable straw, which is ideal for smaller mechanisms and precision work, whilst helping you get into those hard-to-reach areas.

So, now you know everything you will ever need about grease, oil and lubricant. No more sneaky googling in the home improvements aisle (unless you’re reading this article, of course!)

For more ideas on how to use WD-40® in your DIY adventures – check out our blog!