Exploring Types of Lubricants for DIY Projects

Silicone, Oil, Grease and Lithium: Types of Lubricants for DIY Tasks

What is a lubricant? What is lubricant used for in the home? Lubricants can help protect machine parts or other moving parts from friction and damage. You can use them on tools, locks, door hinges and more. However, not all lubricants are the same. There are different types of lubricants for various purposes. In this guide, you will learn about types of lubricant products and their purposes. By the end of the guide, you will know how to choose the right type for your needs.

Types of Lubricants and Their Properties

To understand lubricant types, it is important to know the four categories and common substances. The four categories are penetrating, dry, oil and grease. In most cases, you will work with oil or grease lubricants. Oil is thin and has a liquid-like appearance. Grease is a solid substance that includes oil and a thickening agent. These are the most common lubricating substances.

Silicone Lubricant

Silicone is a versatile lubricant that has many useful properties. These are some of its key advantages:

  • Resists heat
  • Withstands below-freezing temperatures
  • Has low thermal conductivity
  • Maintains viscosity
  • Resists water and stress

Silicone lubricant helps prevent friction on plastic, rubber and some metal surfaces. It is not a good steel-on-steel lubricant.[2]

Oil Lubricant

With oil lubricants, there are different weights. Those weights represent viscosity or thickness. A lower weight number indicates a thinner oil. There are many lubricating oil types. Some common examples are motor oil, mineral oil and sewing machine oil.

Motor oil is what vehicle engines need. If you must add or change motor oil, it is important to choose the right weight. To find this information, check your owner’s manual. Changing the oil regularly is an important part of maintaining your car. However, using the wrong oil can shorten your engine’s life. Gas lawnmowers also require oil. If you need to buy motor oil for a lawn mower, check your owner’s manual to find the ideal weight.

Mineral oil can be used for several DIY tasks. Some people use it with beeswax to make a paste for wet sanding on dry wood. You can also use it to make wood shine if you prefer to avoid furniture polish. In later sections, you will learn more uses for mineral oil. Sewing machine oil helps sewing machine parts move smoothly. If you have one, your owner’s manual will provide lubricating instructions.

Sewing machine oil is a special type of lubricant that includes mineral oil. Avoid using it for purposes that require a thicker oil. For example, it can clog hair clipper blades. Choosing the right thickness of oil for each application is important.

Grease Lubricant

Some greases are thicker than others. For example, thinner grease is similar to the consistency of ketchup. Thicker grease may be more like hard butter or cheese. Since grease is thick and sticky, it typically stays on surfaces longer. Grease is useful for lubricating chains, gears and bearings. You can also use it on garage door tracks. The thickness of grease makes it unsuitable for some applications. For example, it may damage or slow down machines with fast-moving parts.

Lithium Lubricant

Lithium lubricant is a popular type of grease. Many lithium-complex greases are for metal parts. In an earlier section, you learned that silicone is not ideal for steel-on-steel use. However, lithium grease is suitable for steel-on-steel lubrication. You can use lithium lubricant for things you do not use often or want to protect. For example, it can help keep moisture off moving parts. Lithium-complex greases offer these benefits:

  • Good stability
  • Resistant to water
  • Suitable for many surfaces
  • Resistant to high temperatures

Penetrating Lubricant

This is not a long-lasting lubricant for machinery. Use a penetrating lubricant only to remove rust or debris. For example, you can use it to loosen rusted screws. It can also remove chewing gum from hair and adhesive stickers from various surfaces.

Dry Lubricant

Dry lubricant is good for things that are exposed to extreme heat or should not attract dust. People often use it on locks, hinges and threaded rods. A common type of dry lubricant contains graphite. Most dry lubricants come in spray bottles. They are mixed with alcohol, water or a solvent to create a film-like surface.

DIY Projects and Applications

Once you understand the different types of lubricants, it is easier to pick the right one for a project. These are some common DIY projects and ideal lubricants for them.

Garage Door Maintenance

Grease is better for garage door tracks, hinges and springs. If you keep them greased, they are more likely to operate quietly and smoothly. Be sure to clean them before you apply grease. Use lithium or silicone grease.

Squeaky Hinges and Door Locks

What are the right types of lubricants for hinges? For interior hinges, silicone spray is a great choice. You can also use a graphite dry lubricant or lithium grease. White lithium grease usually lasts longer than silicone spray. Dry graphite lubricant powder is the ideal solution for lubricating locks. It can withstand extreme temperatures. Also, it lasts longer and will not attract debris. Keeping debris and gunk out of locks is important to ensure proper function.

Furniture Maintenance

Almost everyone has at least one squeaky chair. If you want to end the annoyance, use a silicone spray on it. An all-purpose lubricant with PTFE is also good for chair joints. You can use

silicone spray on most other sticky furniture mechanisms. For drawers with wood slides, you may need nylon tape or paraffin wax. A dry spray lubricant is good for other types of drawer slides.

Plumbing Applications

If you need to lubricate pipe threads, use plumber’s tape. It has PTFE and a silky texture. To remove a stuck pipe or shower head, use a penetrating lubricant. There are several faucet grease products available today for squeaky faucets. You can use silicone grease on O-rings. For any plumbing project, make sure you use the correct type of lubricant.

Automotive and Tools

There are several types of machine lubricants. For most machine parts and power tools, machine oil is ideal. Also, you can use a general-purpose lubricant that has mineral oil. Although there are many oils you can use for garden tools, mineral oil is a good choice. Some guides also recommend linseed oil, silicone spray or motor oil. However, mineral oil is gentle and affordable.

Choosing the Right Lubricant

With so many different types of lubricant products, it can be hard to pick the right one. Remember these tips to help you choose the right lubricant:

  • Find out if you need a specific viscosity.
  • See if the product manufacturer recommends a certain type of lubricant.
  • For a DIY project, pick a lubricant that is compatible with your material.
  • For extreme temperatures, pick a temperature-resistant product.

Be sure to store your lubricant correctly. You can find storage instructions on the packaging.

Find All Types of Lubricants at True Value

You now know how to pick the right lubricant by considering every aspect of your project. Head to your nearest True Value to find the lubricants you need!