Is it still okay if there is oil separation in grease? Yes, it is perfectly safe to use grease that has oil separation, provided you mix the oil back into the grease before use. However, if the grease does not readily absorb the oil after stirring, it best not to use the grease on any of your equipment.
What Causes Oil Separation In Grease?
Oil separation, also known as oil puddling or oil bleed, is a common phenomenon that occurs naturally when storing grease. Oil separation occurs in reaction to stress, which is a good thing because this is precisely the mechanism that allows oil to be released under mechanical stress, keeping your equipment well lubricated. This process occurs in much the same way as when a sponge releases water after being squeezed. Specific stressors contributing to oil separation during storage include an uneven grease surface, or changes in altitude or temperature.
How Do I Prevent Oil Separation In Grease?
As with most things, prevention of oil separation is better than cure. The most important way to prevent oil separation is to smooth out the surface of grease after every use with a suitable tool. Smoothing the surface of your grease prevents air pockets, which in turn prevents any environmental variations in the grease that may cause unnecessary levels of oil separation. It is also important to prevent contamination of grease as it may change the chemical composition. This includes always using clean tools when handling the grease. Finally, the grease should be stored in a cool, dry environment, and away from any major temperature fluctuations.
How Do I Mix The Separated Oil Back Into The Grease?
In the event of oil separation, the grease must be stirred correctly to ensure proper reabsorption of the oil. Before proceeding, it is essential to ensure that you are wearing personal protective clothing including safety glasses, gloves, head cover, long sleeve shirt and closed shoes. This not only protects you, but also prevents contamination of the grease. Next, ensure all your tools have been cleaned with cleaning solvent, including wiping down the grease container to prevent any contamination.
Once the lid is cleaned you can open the grease. Use an oar or similar tool to gently fold areas with oil separation back into the grease, being careful not to remove any of the excess oil as removing excess oil will change its composition. Once the grease has completely reabsorbed the oil, gently smooth the surface with an appropriate tool until smooth.
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