Conventional lubricants are refined from crude oil. Refining is a process of physically separating light from heavy oil fractions. Crude oil is a natural substance. It contains millions of different kinds of molecules. Many are similar in weight but dissimilar in structure. Because refining separates products by weight, it groups molecules of similar weight and dissimilar structure, so refined lubricants contain a wide assortment of molecules.
However, not all of those molecules are beneficial to the lubrication process. Some of the molecules found in refined lubricants are detrimental to the lubricated system or to the lubricant itself. For example, paraffin, a common refined lubricant component, causes refined lubricants to thicken and flow poorly in cold temperatures. Some refined lubricant molecules also may contain sulfur, nitrogen and oxygen, which act as contaminants and invite the formation of sludge and other by-products of lubricant breakdown.
Synthetic lubricants are not refined. They are chemically engineered from pure chemicals.
Pure – Because they are derived from pure chemicals, synthetic lubricants contain no contaminants or molecules that “don’t pull their own weight.”
Uniform – Because synthetics contain only smooth lubricating molecules, they slip easily across one another. On the other hand, the potpourri of jagged, irregular and odd-shaped molecules of refined lubricants don’t slip quite so easily. The ease with which lubricant molecules slip over one another affects the lube’s ability to reduce friction, which in turn, affects wear control, heat control and fuel efficiency. Synthetics are superior.
Uniformity also helps synthetics resist thinning in heat and thickening in cold, which helps them protect better over a system’s operating temperature range and helps synthetic lubes provide better seals than conventional lubes do.
Designable – Synthetic lubricants may be made to fulfill virtually every lubricating need. On the other hand, the applicability of conventional lubes is limited, due to their functional limitations in high temperatures, low temperatures and other demanding conditions.
Because they are derived from pure chemicals, synthetic lubricants contain no contaminants or molecules that “don’t pull their own weight.”