The term shelf life refers to the time period during which you can store lubricants, grease, or oil and continue to use these products without going through a quality-control process. Lubricant manufacturers provide shelf life recommendations to guide the distributors or customers. However, these recommendations only work when you observe strict adherence to conditions.
If you store the lubricants in their original, properly sealed containers under recommended conditions, you can rely on the manufacturer’s shelf life instructions. On the other hand, if your facility doesn’t follow the right lubricant handling and storage practices, you need to test the lubricants before you use them with your critical industrial equipment.
It’s important to be very careful with lubricants which are reaching their shelf life. What should you do with oils and lubricants which are reaching their expected shelf life expectancy? If this is the case, perform oil analysis on any lubricant products that have been stored longer than the recommended shelf life. In such cases, it becomes necessary to verify whether or not the quality of your oils has been compromised either by a longer storage time period or the environment.
The environment in which you store lubricants is equally important as the storage time. Temperature variances, humidity, agitation of the lubricants, the quality of storage products and techniques are some the factors which can completely change the situation. Maintaining a dry and clean environment is essential when it comes to lubricants achieving their maximum storage life. Your maintenance team must realize how important it is to keep oils and lubricants clean in order to avoid a plethora of equipment issues in the future.
Lubricant characteristics can play a decisive role when determining their expected storage life. Base oil, thickener type, and additives are some of the factors that determine whether the lubricant has a short or long shelf life. Custom-blended lubricants are recommended to be stored for three months, calcium-complex-based greases for six months, and lithium-based greases for one year. While lubricants with a low percentage of additives can be stored for more than five years in ideal conditions, soluble oils and fire-resistant lubes can be ideally stored for about six months.
Lubricant service life vs storage life
The product life in service and the product life in storage are two different concepts. Lubricants remain motionless when stored for an extended period of time. During storage, lubricants can get exposed to cyclic variations in temperature and contaminants ingression which can seriously affect the product’s performance properties. When in service, lubricants go through dynamic conditions such as splashing, circulation, churning, etc.
Most oils and greases deteriorate with the passage of time. Nevertheless, excellent oil storage practices lead to sufficient stock turnover and that lubricants can be used before performance loss takes place.
Micro Lube is one of the largest suppliers of high-quality lubricants, storage and filtration products in Canada. As a leading maintenance company, we always strive to keep your industrial equipment in good working condition through premium quality products, on-site inspection and technical support. Contact us for more information!