What is the Difference Between Synthetic Oils, Semi-Synthetic and Non-Synthetic?
Non-synthetic oil, often referred to as mineral-based oil, is a product of the petroleum refining process, where the different elements of crude oil are separated through a distillation process. This is the same process that produces gasoline, diesel fuel and other petroleum products. Lubricating oils manufactured through this process are considered Group I (gear oil, industrial) and Group II (engine oil), and work well for many applications, but their molecular structure is inconsistent. Visualize the molecules of non-synthetic lubricants like a jar full of rocks.
Synthetic lubricants (Group III) are produced through a chemical synthesis process – a higher grade refining process where molecules are broken down and rebuilt into a uniform structure. The higher the refining process, the more pure the base oil becomes and, typically, the higher lubrication quality of the oil. The advantage of synthetic lubricants is they have a consistent molecular structure. If the molecules of a non-synthetic lubricant are like a jar of rocks, picture the molecules of a synthetic lubricant like a jar of marbles. Now imagine sticking your hand in each jar – it would definitely be easier to slip your hand into the jar of marbles!
Semi-synthetic lubricants are blend of synthetic and mineral base oils, and typically contain up to 30-percent synthetic. Semi-synthetic oil imparts some level of synthetic lubrication qualities and oil stability to a mineral blend. While not as high a quality of lubricant as full-synthetic, it is a higher quality lubricant than a mineral oil.
Unlike Group I, II and III base stocks which are produced through the petroleum distillation process, PAO (polyalphaolefin) synthetic base stocks (Group IV) are derived from ethylene. PAO synthetics are highly stable lubricating oils but they are expensive and cost prohibitive for most applications. PAO is often used in high-performance and racing applications.
Like PAO, Esters (Group V) are another high-grade synthetic and are typically used in compressors and industrial applications. Ester molecules are highly-stable and function well at both ultra-low and ultra-high temperatures, so they are often used to supplement a lower grade synthetic to enhance cold flow and high-temperature protection.
Quicksilver Lubricants chooses the highest-grade synthetic base stocks that are appropriate for the given application. We carefully balance value, protection and performance to meet the goals of each formula. That means you’ll get the highest level of protection available for your given application for the best price.