What Oil to Use in Air Compressor

Photo of author
Written By Scott Angel

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur pulvinar ligula augue quis venenatis. 

Affiliate Disclosure: As an Amazon affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

What oil to use in air compressor? It may seem like a silly question at first, but it actually has some important implications. Air compressors are expensive machines that require constant maintenance. If you don’t know what kind of oil to use, the machine will eventually break down and be rendered useless.

Air compressors and air tools often use lubricants to stay in top operating condition. However, most of these products contain lubricants that contain toxic substances such as mineral oil, aromatic oil, and so on.

Nowadays, there is an increasing demand for air compressor lubricants without such harmful ingredients. Therefore, it is necessary to know how to choose the most appropriate lubricants for air tools. That’s why we put together this guide with everything you need to know about what oils work best for different types of compressors – so you can avoid costly mistakes!

What is Air Compressor Oil?

Air compressor oil, also known as the air tool oil, is a type of oil that is used in most air compressors. Air compressor oil is mainly made up of many different substances. On the basis of the oil ingredients, the basic difference is that the ones that will leave the oil undamaged are referred to as engine oil, greases, and air tools.

Some common ones are alkyd, mineral oil, synthetic oil, SAE20, SAE 30, vegetable oil, varnish, silicon-based and so on. Furthermore, the ability of the oil to stick to certain parts of the compressor body can be determined by their viscosity and strength. The quality of the oil also plays an important role, as some lubricants are better for particular types of air tools. For example, air tools that are often used with electric motors can benefit from oil that does not contains detergents.

Do All Air Compressors Require Oil?

In fact, oil is not a compulsory element for most air compressors such as solar power air compressor. However, without the use of lubricants in some machines or tools, their service life will be greatly reduced. In addition to protecting your equipment from major damage and reducing noise levels during operation, it can also provide an ideal surface film on metal parts so that they do not corrode, ensuring the performance of your air compressor.

What is the use of oil in an air compressor

The primary purpose of using lubricants is to keep the moving components of an air compressor clean. The moving parts of the air compressor might wear down and cease functioning properly if they are not kept lubricated.

Furthermore, the objective of using lubricants is to prevent an air compressor from failing. If a component fails, there’s a danger of fire, explosion, and other unpleasant effects.

Thirdly, the use of lubricants helps in avoiding the buildup of soot, dust, and other impurities. This can lead to the reduction in the lifespan of the air compressor.

The use of air compressor lubricants in excellent condition helps to ensure the correct functioning of the air compressor and to extend its life.

Air compressor oil grade

Air compressor oil grades are based on the viscosity, additive used in that particular oil, and temperature range where it is used. The higher the number, the thicker the oil.

Standard air compressor oil:

The mineral oil used in air compressors is obtained from natural oil. This oil is less expensive than synthetic oil and is perfect for residential use or those who don’t use compressors continuously. It’s also a great option for lightweight or medium-sized compressors. If you use your compressor on a regular basis, you might want to consider synthetic air compressor oil.

Synthetic air compressor oil:

Synthetic air compressor oil are more expensive, but they last longer because of the additives used. They can be used on all types of air compressors, including heavy duty ones. Synthetic blend compressor oils will not degrade as quickly when exposed to heat from an engine block. However, if you have a lot of dust buildup inside your compressor, it may need cleaning before adding any type of lubricating oil.

Extremely cold temperatures oil:

If you need your air compressor to work in extremely cold temperatures, this type of oil is what you’ll want to use. It’s made for usage with compressors that are used on the tundra or other places where it gets very chilly.

It’s also excellent if there isn’t much heat generated by the machine itself and therefore doesn’t create its own heat, which is what you’ll want to look for if your air compressor needs to operate at sub-zero temperatures.

Extremely high temperature oil:

This type has an even higher number than what normal air compressor oils have. It can withstand very high temperatures and is therefore perfect for heavy-duty and large commercial air compressors.

If the highest quality of lubricant or maximum protection from wear and tear are what you’re looking for in an air compressor oil, this type might be what works best for you. This oil is what you’ll want to use if the air compressor will be used in very extreme conditions with high-temperature equipment, which can reach up to 400 degrees Celsius or more.

Substitutes for Air Compressor Oils

Hydraulic oil

Hydraulic oil is used for proper lubrication of mechanical devices such as engines, transmissions, etc. The main components of hydraulic oil include synthetic oils, solvents, detergents, anti-wear additives, rust inhibitors, corrosion inhibitors, viscosity modifiers, and other additives.

Automatic transmission fluid:

Automatic transmission fluid is used to provide proper lubrication to the automatic transmission of a car. The transmission fluid is a mixture of regular motor oil and additives that keep the transmission working smoothly. If the transmission fluid becomes too old, it may cause damage to the transmission.

Motor oil:

Regular motor oil is used to lubricate internal combustion engines. The main purpose of motor oil is to reduce friction between moving parts inside the engine and the metal surfaces they contact. When using motor oil, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for use.

Characteristics of an Air Compressor Oil?

As previously said, air compressors are generally supplied with manufacturer’s instructions. The specifics of your air compressor will be outlined in these instructions. It should also include the information on which oil type to use to achieve the best results.

The following are some of the essential characteristics that will be discussed in the standards. We’ve gone through each one in detail so you know exactly what you’ll get and how it works.

Temperature rating:

Your air compressor’s oil needs to be in a range of temperatures. The oil will act differently depending on the temperature it is at. If the temperature is too cold or too hot, then there may be problems with your air compressor. this tells you what temperature the oil can withstand before it becomes too hot.

Oil with a low temperature rating is what you’ll want to use if the machine itself has very little heat and will be used in extremely cold weather.

It’s common for the temperature range of your air compressor oil to be stated in the package. So, if you reside in a region with extreme temperatures, make sure the viscosity and temperate are suitable.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your compressor generates heat as well. When it comes to purchasing oil, you’ll need to think about this as well. It must be able to operate effectively within a wide temperature range.

Viscosity rating:

Viscosity is defined as the property of a fluid that resists flow under stress. For air compressor oil, most brands suggest SAE20 or SAE 30. A SAE20 oil would be preferable in colder regions, much like motor oil. In hotter conditions, on the other hand, a Sae30 oil is thicker, which means it will cover better and give greater protection.

Viscosity is an important consideration. It will have a direct effect on how effectively your oil can lubricate the components of your compressor. The viscosity rating is what you’ll want to pay attention to when choosing what type of oil for air compressors that you need.

Corrosion protection:

oil with good corrosion protection properties protects the compressor from rusting and other forms of damage that would interfere with performance or cause malfunction. If your air compressor is exposed to corrosive atmosphere, you should look for an oil with good anti-corrosive properties.


Manufacturing companies have made it easier to find additives are included in what you need to look for when choosing what type of oil is best. These additives add an extra layer of protection and work with the viscosity rating in order to give your compressor better lubrication.

Remember, if you’re looking at oils marketed as air compressor specific, they may include these additives already included. If not, make sure what you purchase does so.

What type of Oil Should You Use in Your Air Compressor?

Several factors play a role when determining what kind of air compressor oil you should use:

Regardless of what type of oil you choose for your air compressors, there are a few basic characteristics that all oils should meet:

The viscosity of air compressors oil must be appropriate to the ambient normal temperature ranges.

It is necessary that the air compressor oil does not contain any impurities like water and dust particles. This can lead to corrosion and damage in the long run.

The synthetic oil must be light and not viscous so that it can easily drain back into the pan once the machine is shut down.

It should remain stable over a wide temperature range, i.e., between -30°C (-22F) to 100°C (212F). This ensures optimal operation of the air compressors in all weather conditions.

The synthetic oil must have a high resistance to oxidation so that it is able to withstand prolonged use without breaking down or evaporating completely from its container.

The oil must be able to prevent rust and corrosion. If the machine is exposed to harsh conditions, it will greatly help if the lubricant prevents both of these problems from occurring.

Can I use 10W30 in my air compressor?

No, as 10W30 is not a non detergent motor oil, it is advisable not to use 10W30 in an air compressor. Expert also suggest to use non detergent oils, since it can clog the air filter and reduce its life.

Can you put motor oil in an air compressor?

Generally, you can use motor oil to an air compressor. However, it is good practice to use only air compressor oil that is suitable for compressor.

While motor oil is thicker than what you would put in an air compressor, it will actually damage the machine. It can also cause serious clogs and lead to other problems for your air compressor.

By way of conclusion, motor oil works in only motor vehicle, so air compressor professionals recommended not to use motor oil in an air compressor.

What oil to use in air compressor?

Actually, all air compressors type do not even necessitate synthetic oils or standard oil to run, but it has been a common practice to keep the machine run smoothly and quietly.

In order to make it work properly, what oil you should put in varies from model to model and air compressor manufacturers specifications as well as your usage schedule and working environment.

If there is no specific recommendation for what type of air compressor oil to use for what brand, then it is advisable that you look at the model number in air compressor manufacturer website and specifications of your compressed air system.

Final Verdict

The oil you use in your air compressor can have a significant impact on both the performance and lifespan of your equipment. There are several factors to consider when choosing an oil, including ambient temperature, frequency of use, type of lubricant used previously if any at all, location where the equipment is being run (inside or outside), and types of contaminants that may be present in the environment.

We’ve covered what oil to use in an air compressor, the benefits of using synthetic vs. mineral oils, and which type of motor lubricant is best for your needs. The choice will depend on your budget and the frequency that you use your machine so it pays to do some research before purchasing one or more types of oils.

If you have any questions about our blog post today please feel free to leave them in the comment section below or share with us on social media!

Leave a Comment