November 28, 2021

What Kind of Oil to Use for an Air Compressor?

Oil plays an important role in your air compressor, especially if you want your equipment to last a long time. The oil keeps the moving metal components of an air compressor from grinding together and causing irreparable damage. Without oil, you wouldn't be able to compress air and store it for use later. If your oil were low or empty, leaks in your machines would cause major problems with your system, and it would make sense if you took the step of changing the oil in your air compressor. In such a case, you would be forced to replace most if not all of the machine's parts with new ones. It's important to use the best type of oil for your system so that you don't end up with even more costly repairs down the road. Here are some general guidelines that might help you choose the best air compressor oil:

Chemical Composition

The best air compressor oil has a low percentage of sulfur and phosphorus. These elements are bad for the environment, so you should avoid them. The viscosity is rated by numbers that show how easily it flows at certain temperatures, with lower numbers showing greater flow than higher ones. The number of additives also plays a role in this. Generally, oils with more additives are less expensive but give off fumes that can harm your health. That means you must choose between safety and convenience when choosing the right oil for your air compressor needs.

Protection Features

The best air compressor oil should provide anti-rust, extreme pressure, and water resistance properties. Admittedly, choosing the right oil for your air compressor with anti-rust, extreme pressure, and water resistance properties is important for equipment longevity. In particular, it will protect your equipment against rusting, protect from high heat conditions, and prolong the life of parts exposed to moisture. Your air compressor will surely last longer if you choose the right oil for it. Further, using oils that don't match your machine's metal components increases the risk of corrosion and other breakdowns, which will lead to costly repairs or replacements.

Recommended Viscosity

For compressors that see regular use, a 40 weight oil with a viscosity of 10 cSt @ 40 degrees Celsius is recommended. It offers excellent lubrication and can be used in almost all types of air tools without causing any damage or malfunctions. Avoid thinner oils because they don't have enough viscosity to protect the equipment from wear and tear.

If you own an air compressor that has gotten old and doesn't see much activity anymore, it might not require the best oils for maintenance. In this case, go with a 30 weight high-quality oil that offers better flow but does less to guard against wear on moving parts over time. This type of oil also has a lower risk of clogging and provides better protection against corrosion and rust.


Most air compressor oils contain several additives like acids, corrosion inhibitors, and water-repelling agents. Each oil type has a very specific list of what can be added to it, so when in doubt about what best suits your needs, go with the oil that matches the manufacturer's recommendations for use with their products.

If your machine didn't come with any pre-mixed fluid, make sure you choose an oil that is 100% petroleum or mineral-based since it will contain no additives, which will ensure compatibility with the compressor. It is also best to go for an oil listed as being used by independent testing laboratories so you know for sure that it can handle what you need your machine to do without giving out too early.

Consider Your Environment

If you're working in an extremely hot environment, look for a compressor oil that's formulated to handle high temperatures. If you aim to do small jobs around the house where the average temperature is 70 or below, you don't need anything super expensive or special since no extreme pressure or heat will be involved. Use something that's standard weight and works well with mineral oil base types so that changing the oil in your air compressor becomes easier.

Quality versus price

If you want to buy the best air compressor oil, chances are you want only the best materials, and such comes at a cost. Quality oils can last up to 3 times as long as those of lower grade, so they deliver more value per dollar used over time. The difference is not small but if budget is important, go for oil within your means after comparing your options. The cheapest oil might not always be the worst option, and sometimes it makes sense to buy just this one item that will save dollars in other places. It's better to purchase something of average quality than scrimp on the most important piece of equipment in your workshop.

Selecting the appropriate oil for your air compressor is important if you want it to function perfectly and last long. Maintaining your machine also depends on using the proper type of oil since some need changing the oil in your air compressor regularly while others don't. Using oils that aren't made specifically for certain machines can cause malfunction and lead to costly repairs and replacements, so make sure you follow any guidelines stated by the manufacturer when choosing the right oil for your air compressor to use to avoid these issues from happening.