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Why Does Formulating The Best Synthetic Base Oil Stock Lead To The Best Possible Oil?

While it is true that formulating the best possible synthetic base oil stock will lead to the production of the highest quality oils, in order to understand why this is the case, individuals will need to start off by gaining a clear understanding of synthetic base grade stocks. Synthetic oils are currently used quite commonly within industries around the world, including the motor vehicle industry and agriculture, among many others. Due to the high demand for high quality oils, it is imperative that companies continue to produce only the best quality products on the market. Ultimately, this allows the oils to meet with the demands that they will face the moment they are put to use in the field, regardless of their purpose.

What Makes The Best Synthetic Oil?

Not all oils are manufactured in the same way. For the past few decades, engine oil has been produced from crude oil, which is siphoned from the earth. This oil is situated in deep oil wells, and professionals often have to go to great lengths in order to extract it from the ground. This substance has been called liquid gold in the past because of how valuable it is, and this is true because until other technologies began to replace it, the world relied on crude oil in many more ways than one.

Once the crude oil has been taken from the ground, the distillation process begins, and this is a very complex, time consuming one that starts off with crude oil and eventually ends up with a variety of liquids, each with differing characteristics. Some of these liquids are very light, while others are much heavier. The lighter liquids tend to be used for fuel and they include products such as kerosene and gasoline. The darker products are utilized as gear lubes, engine oils and greases.

Individuals should keep in mind that the molecular compounds that are present within this oil makes up the physical properties of the product. In many instances, it is these compounds that could lead a product to being inferior, although when it comes to natural oil stocks, there is little that can be done about it, at least until additives start being added to the mix.

Synthetic oils, on the other hand, can be manufactured from the ground upwards, in a sense, and this means that individuals have the chance to pick and choose which components make up the base oil. It is well known that synthetic oils do not harbor the same contaminants as their natural counterparts, and what is more, the hydrocarbon molecules are actually much more uniform. While this might be seemingly insignificant from the outside, when looked at from a professional level, it is clear that this allows the oil base to perform better at extremes of temperature, both high and low.

Synthetic oils aren't manufactured from crude oils. Instead, this product is manufactured through a process called Fischer-Tropsch process, which utilizes raw materials such as carbon dioxide, methane and even carbon monoxide. This process was first introduced to the world back in Germany during WWII, when the country simply didn't have access to crude oils. It was during this time that they had to locate alternatives in order to replace the crude oil that the entire globe was so reliant on at the time, and this solution was what people now know of as synthetic oils.

The Different Grades of Synthetic Base Oil Stocks

It should be noted that all engine oils are taken from base oil stocks. In order to produce a synthetic oil that contains the properties a company wants in an oil, a base stock will need to be altered using additives. It is quite common for generic oil bases to be utilized in order to accomplish this. These bases might or might not have distinctive qualities that set them apart from all the others. Ultimately, the additives will most likely play a much more important role in determining the outcome of the base stocks.

There are a wide range of base stocks available in this day and age. There are so many, in fact, that they are divided into 5 groups. These groups have been identified and they have been classified by the American Petroleum Institute.

The first two groups are mineral oils that have been derived from a crude oil source. 

The third group is much more refined mineral oil that is actually manufactured with the assistance of a process known as hydrocracking. Within North America, this particular group is labeled and sold as synthetic oil, although this is for marketing purposes.

Group four consists of fully synthetic oils, and these are called Polyalphaolefin, or PAO. 

Lastly, the fifth group consists of synthetic stocks that fall outside the scope of the PAOs, and these include products such as esters, as well as a variety of other compounds.

The Viscosity Index

Oils tend to react very differently when they are exposed to different temperatures, and this is something that needs to be considered when individuals look at the base oil stocks from which synthetic oils are manufactured. When temperatures begin to drop, the hydrocarbon molecules within most mineral oils begin to line up, and in many cases, they also stick together. The viscosity will eventually begin to increase in these cases, and this could also make it much more difficult for the oil to lubricate an engine. This is what oil is used for in most cases, and so when it is unable to perform its job, it is rendered useless.

It is easy to see how oils that tend to start reacting in this manner could end up posing a problem when faced with these temperatures, and this is something that individuals need to focus on when choosing their oils. In the past, the manner in which oil would react to a temperature wasn't something that a manufacturer could alter, but over time this began to change. It is thanks to the additives that can be utilized to alter the properties of oil, including the way that it reacts to colder temperatures that sets certain high quality oils apart from their lower quality counterparts.

When oil comes into contact with high temperatures, on the other hand, the viscosity decreases, and this means that it could actually end up being much less effective at protecting the moving parts within an engine, for example. Once again, additives can be utilized to correct these issues, and ultimately allow the viscosity to change only when the manufacturer wants it to. This sort of ingenuity has allowed oils to come a long way from where they once were, although high quality products still make use of quality base stocks.

How Do Additives Alter Viscosity?

While it might be easy to understand that additives have the ability to alter viscosity, it isn't always clear how they are able to accomplish this. Basically, at a molecular level, additives take on the appearance coils that tend to shorten when they are cold and lengthen when they are warm. When they are shortened, they will interfere with the lining up of the hydrocarbons so that the viscosity level is automatically increased. When warm, they make it much easier for the molecules to stick together, therefore increasing the viscosity.

Of course, a higher quality base stock will not alter its viscosity levels quite as freely as something of a lower quality, which is why it is so important for manufacturers to look out for these. When it comes to formulating synthetic oil stocks, manufacturers have the opportunity to come up with formulas that allow the molecules to maintain a certain appearance under even the more extreme temperatures. This prevents the fluctuations that could otherwise have rendered the oil useless.

Less Frequent Oil Changes

Most people who maintain their vehicles will know that frequent oil changes continue to the overall well-being of the vehicle, but not many people know why. The answer lies in the Total Base Number, or the TBN. This is basically the number that measures the alkalinity of the oil. When oil starts out, it is alkaline, but over time, it begins to absorb the acids within the engine.

At the start, it is able to continue functioning optimally, but over time, these acids might begin to build up until the oil is more acid than alkaline. At this point, the oil will need to be replaced, and it might also take on a much darker color. The TBN is generally measured in KOH/g, or Potassium Hydroxide per gram and it is generally between 7 and 10 for the average vehicle, and 10 and 15 for diesel engines. The higher number is because diesel engines tend to produce much more acids, and oil changes are less frequently needed.

In special cases when manufacturers are picking out the base stock, they will look for one that is able to absorb acids more effectively, and in those instances where they are creating a synthetic base stock, they will most likely opt to produce a product that is able to accomplish just that. The more effective oil is at drawing acids without altering its own acidity, the longer a vehicle owner will be able to go without replacing the oil in their car or truck. This also means that the oil will have a much more positive effect on the engine in the long run.

There are other factors that will have an effect on the overall quality of the oil, including the pour point and the flash point. The pour point, for example, is the lowest possible temperature that oil can be exposed to while allowing the oil to be freely poured from the container in which it has been placed. In the past, people would struggle with non-synthetic oils because many of them won't pour out of containers at the slightest hint of a drop in temperature. Of course, when it comes to functioning within an engine, this isn't good news. Synthetic oils are able to withstand low temperatures because of the base oil stocks from which they are manufactured. In the end, these base stocks have been combined with additives that allow them to be able to withstand lower temperatures. At this point in time, synthetic oils can function in just about every environment in the natural world, making them all the more appealing.

The flash point, on the other hand, is the temperature at which the vapor rising from the oil will begin to combust. Once again, natural oils used to have very low flash points, making them somewhat dangerous in a variety of settings. Synthetic oils tend have been manufactured so that they have much higher flash points, and this has, in turn, made them much safer for use in a variety of applications.

Performance in High Temperature Conditions

In order for an oil to be able to perform optimally, it shouldn't only be able to function optimally in cold weather, but also in warm conditions. The mechanisms within a piece of machinery such as an engine could end up causing temperatures to rise quite substantially, and that could, in turn, cause a change in the overall structure of the oil. To test whether this is going to happen, a Noack volatility test is conducted on the oil.

To perform this test, the oil is generally heated up to 250 degrees Celsius, and this is done for about an hour. Once the heat has been administered, the oil will be tested for the percentage of weight that it has lost. This is done because it allows the tester to determine whether or not the oil volatilizes easily. Oils that tend to volatilize easily also become too thick under conditions such as these, and this means that it rarely is able to reach the inner workings of an engine. Ultimately, this will lead the oil to fail in its purpose, as well as put the engine at risk.

Individuals always need to look out for low numbers when they come across Noack Volatility. A high quality oil should have a volatility of about 10% or less.

It is important to remember that many natural oils have high volatility levels; some as high as 25%, and this is where quality synthetic base stocks make all of the difference. By allowing professionals to utilize additives that will alter the structure of base oil, this allows them to lower the volatility level, therefore increasing the overall quality of the product itself.

Shear Loads

Another facet that needs to be taken into consideration when it comes to synthetic base oil stocks is the shear stability, which is basically the rate at which the oil can withstand mechanical sheer loads. Oils are usually subjected to extreme shear loads, and as parts slide against each other, the oil needs to hold up, preventing these parts from slipping. In instances where the oil simply cannot handle shear loads, this could end up causing it to shear out, which means it will lose viscosity. High quality oils, such as those produced with synthetic base stock oils can be manufactured to hold up very well under pressure, therefore benefiting those utilizing these oils.

Making the Switch

Once individuals become aware of the many benefits of synthetic oils, they tend to start looking at switching over to them, but there is always the question of whether this is the safe thing to do. Usually, both synthetic and the more natural oils will blend in seamlessly, so individuals don't have to worry about making a slow transition from one to the other. Making the switch outright is usually the best thing to do, after a person has taken the synthetic base oil stock into consideration, of course.

Being aware of what makes up the highest quality oil on the market can go a long way in helping individuals understand the importance of quality base stock oils. Ultimately, without a sound base oil stock, the finished product could end up being inferior, and this is something that manufacturers want to avoid by making smart decisions with their base oils.  The better the base oil, the more smoothly the machinery will run, and this is what makes all of the difference.

Schaeffer Oil Uses Only The Best Base Stocks

You can count on Schaeffer's Specialized Lubricants when in comes to reliability and quality because they always use the finest and best quality base stocks that guarantee the best synthetic oils available.  Find Schaeffer oil for sale here at

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