Grease Selection Made Simple

First question- what is grease?

Grease is simply a semi-fluid product that’s made up of an oil (70-90%) combined with a “thickener” (5-15%). Added to the mix are a few special additives (3-10%) to make some specific improvements and you have GREASE!

 Now we get a little more technical

  1. There are two main types of grease –
    1. ‘Metal Soap’ Thickener grease (Aluminum, Barium, Lithium, Sodium, Calcium, etc.)
    2. ‘Non-Soap Thickener grease (Polyurea, Clay, Silica)
  2. Grease is named after its thickener type –
    1. Example – Aluminum Complex, Lithium Complex, Polyurea and many others are classified and known by their thickener type
  3. More info about 2 of the most popular grease types –
    1. Lithium Complex Grease
      • General purpose
      • Good anti-wear and extreme pressure properties
      • Good water resistance
      • Good heat resistance
      • Good in low temperature applications
      • Good for roller and spherical bearings
      • Accounts for more than 50% of all grease usage
  1. Polyurea Grease
    • Used mainly in ball bearing applications – electric motors
    • Excellent low temperature pump-ability
    • Water resistance is satisfactory to excellent
    • Excellent heat resistance
    • Not good in slow-moving applications
    • Polyurea does not work well in roller and spherical bearings
  1. If a compromise is a must for motor bearings, use Lithium Complex


  2. Grease can be a very complex subject but 99% of the typical applications found in the industry can be satisfied with a minimum number of greases such as those above. However, special applications may require further investigation for the proper grease.
  3. A few tips  –
    1. Do not mix grease types! Compatibility is an issue with many grease types.
    2. Use the same grease in a bearing for the life of the bearing.
    3. Send a tube of the grease you are using in your motors with the motor when it goes off to the repair shop.
    4. Use button-head grease fittings on your motors instead of regular zerts




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We provide side-by-side reliability and maintenance consulting and training designed to keep your equipment running.

For over 45 years, we’ve partnered with 100s of manufacturing plants around the world to eliminate the costs and the pressure caused by unreliable equipment. And we’d love to do the same for you.

Contact us today to see how we can help you keep your plant running.

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