September 20, 2022

Traditional oil or synthetic lubricant for air compressors?

Although oil-free air compressors exist, most air compressors require a lubricant to cool down properly and withstand regular use. Lubricated compressors are more cost-effective, durable, and longer-lasting, making them a leading choice among companies today. 

In the long run, lubrication will protect your air compressor system’s longevity and performance. But, which type of lubricant is better for your air compressor: traditional oil or synthetic lubricant?

Pros and cons of traditional oil

Traditional oil used to lubricate air compressors typically includes mineral oil from petroleum. This oil covers the compressor’s internal parts so that they can move smoothly during operation.


  • It’s usually lower in cost than synthetic lubricant, which can make it an attractive choice for companies looking to cut expenses 
  • Suitable for compressed air systems that don’t undergo continual use


  • Poor energy efficiency when compared to synthetic lubricant
  • Requires more oil changes
  • No fire resistance and the possibility of flammability
  • Produces more sludge than synthetic lubricant
  • Potential for friction between parts

Pros and cons of synthetic lubricant

Synthetic lubricant is derived from raw materials that have undergone filtration and refining processes. So, it omits many of the impurities found in traditional oil. 


  • Higher energy efficiency
  • Consistent lubrication in all temperatures with a low risk of friction
  • Doesn’t emulsify or produce unwanted byproducts
  • Requires fewer oil changes
  • Low flammability
  • No degradation, leading to a higher usage per volume


  • More expensive
  • It may not be suitable for use with plastics, adhesives, coatings, and elastomers

So, which oil should I use?

It’s hard to provide a recommendation without being there to see the uses and which equipment you’re using. The expert team at Elevated Industrial Solutions can help you choose the right lubricant for your air compressor system. Contact us today for more information about our comprehensive range of products and services, including oil recommendations.


Tami Matthews
Author: Tami Matthews
Tami Matthews is the Director of Marketing at Elevated Industrial Solutions. She’s spent 20+ years in marketing, focusing on writing, public relations, digital marketing, and content marketing. Before coming to Elevated in December 2020, she worked for a number of high-tech companies. Writing is one of her favorite pastimes. In her spare time, she volunteers for a number of causes including the Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy working on the PTO. She also hikes with her husband and begrudging daughter.
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