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Differences between fats and oils

When we talk about lubricating oils and greases, we can think that both could be used interchangeably in each application. However, this is not entirely true and despite the fact that both are lubricants, each one has its specific uses and are used differently depending on the nature of their origin or application.

Consequently, this article seeks, in order to show the reader, the most appreciable differences between these lubricant products. Before going on to point out the differences, it is necessary to define each of these products:

📌Definition of Fats

As far as fats are concerned, we can say that it is a semi-solid material that is made up of a base oil, a thickener and a series of additives. The concentrations and types of components from which the grease is made depend largely on the application that it is going to have.

Among the applications of fats we can find multiple types of fat, such as lithium fats, calcium fats, sodium fats, among others. Sodium greases are frequently used in bearings while calcium greases are used to lubricate vehicle chassis.

In addition, multipurpose greases that combine one or more characteristics of greases have recently become very common, making it very useful in minimizing the need to dispose of several types of grease.

📌Definition of Oils

Oils are those substances of mineral or vegetable origin that do not dissolve in water and are generally less dense than water. They are those that, due to their molecular structure, are used for various uses such as to prevent moving metal parts from coming into direct contact. In this way, it is possible to reduce the friction between both moving parts and therefore wear.

It is also used in gastronomy and in aromatherapy through the manufacture of essential oils . The so-called “essential” oils manage to capture the essence of different plants for various health uses or simply to set a room through an essential oil diffuser.

For example, in a combustion engine, the oil lubricates the engine parts, in addition to, -together with the radiator- it helps to dissipate the heat that is generated as a result of friction and combustion. In the same way, it allows to keep in suspension all the residues generated by the gasoline combustion cycle. Likewise, it prevents the formation of deposits and keeps the parts clean, preventing blockages in the lubrication system that could lead to the subsequent failure of the machinery.

For all the aforementioned, we can summarize the main differences between fats and oils in the following table:

📌Differences Fats and Oils

fats oils
Fats have a semi-solid appearance at room temperature. Oils are in a liquid state at room temperature.
Greases are frequently used in applications operating under normal conditions of speed and temperature. Oils are used when high speed and high temperature do not allow the use of grease and when it is also necessary to dissipate heat from the machinery.
The grease allows a simple application in tools, equipment and machinery, while providing protection against moisture and impurities. The use of the oil is restricted to applications where it can be contained, since, due to its low viscosity, it is easy for it to flow or spill. Therefore, it is more difficult for it to remain in the place where it is lubricated.
It is used in the lubrication of moving parts such as bearings, cams, slides, guides, among many others. It is used in the lubrication of combustion engines, compressors of all kinds, transformers (dielectric oil to insulate and heat sink). It is also used as a fluid in hydraulic applications.
They have greater resistance to extreme cold without hardening. A suitable oil viscosity must be selected or it could solidify in extreme cold.

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