The importance of keeping lubricants clean and contaminant free cannot be overstated. Proper storage and handling techniques can prevent contamination related engine and equipment failures. Keeping lubricants (and fuel) clean, cool and dry prevents them from becoming contaminated with dust, dirt, water and other fluids. The following are practical ways to do just that:
- Avoid using refillable containers. These containers present multiple opportunities for contamination. If you change brands of oil, buy new containers. Oils can be incompatible with each other, so you want to avoid mixing brands of oil.
- Keep containers tightly sealed. This simple step prevents dust, moisture and other airborne chemicals from contaminating your oil storage containers. Brake Fluids should not be exposed to moisture. Even ambient humidity can affect brake fluids, so great care should be taken with Brake Fluids.
- Keep drums and storage containers as full as possible. This will reduce the amount of “breathing” since there is less vapor space above the liquid level and thus reduce the amount of moist air seen by the lubricants and fluids. The proper way to store drums to prevent the ingress of water is horizontally with the bungs facing the three o’clock and nine o’clock positions. Drums stored and used vertically present greater opportunity for contamination.
- Store oil where temperature swings are minimal. Changes in temperature can make a storage container breathe more which can degrade the oil. It is best to store oil at room temperature.
- All oil-dispensing equipment, including tanks, drums, and pails should be clearly labeled to avoid cross-contamination of products. The label should list the brand of oil along with its viscosity. This minimizes the chances of accidentally mixing lubricants.
- When storing lubricants in small containers make sure the new containers are clean, dry and equipped with sealing lids.
- Accessories such as funnels are best stored in sealed bags to ensure they don’t collect dirt and dust while they sit on a shelf. A separate set of funnels and containers should be used for each type of oil, and they should be labeled accordingly. Avoid the practice of wiping funnels and dispensing equipment with shop rags.
Please note that these points deal with optimizing the “shelf life” of the lubricant and do not cover safety aspects of handling lubricants. Please consult the MSDS sheet for proper handling guidelines.