Advantages of Proper Lubricant Storage

Noria Corporation

Oil storage is a very important aspect of a lubrication program that is often overlooked. Most plants receive new oil and automatically assume it is clean. Then, they may put it to use right away, keep it in a dirty environment, store it outside or leave it open and exposed to contaminants after the initial use. Hopefully, after reading this article, you will have a better understanding of the value of proper lubricant storage.

Bulk Storage

When practical, bulk oil storage is best if the lubricant supply can be hard-piped to a number of stationary machines that use the same lubricant or for machines with high oil consumption. In comparison to drums, which have much greater handling demands, bulk storage offers low labor costs to store and handle the lubricant. In addition, online filtration and oil analysis can be easily added to the system.

Buying in bulk also provides cost savings. When purchasing large quantities, the price per gallon of lubricant can be much less when compared to totes or drums. Furthermore, by utilizing hard piping to machines, you reduce the risk of using the wrong oil in those pieces of equipment. Of course, if the wrong lubricant is delivered to the bulk supply and then used, it could be disastrous. This is why it’s critical to always make sure the right lubricant has been delivered before adding it to your bulk supply.

Among the disadvantages of bulk storage include the upfront costs of installing the piping, pumps, etc. There is also an increased risk for high-volume leakage.


Totes are the preferred method of lubricant storage for many plants. They offer lots of advantages, especially those with a filtration system. With totes, you can get the lubricant supply in bulk, or if you currently have drums, you can transfer and filter the lubricant from the drums into the totes and eliminate the unwanted empty drums.

Totes that have filtration systems provide the ability to clean the oil upon transferring in, while it is in the tote and when transferring out into sealable and refillable containers before being transported to the equipment when needed.


Drums are my least favorite method of lubricant storage. This is because I have yet to see proper drum storage when visiting a plant. They always seem to be left open or kept outside where they have been rained on and faded from the sun.

66% of Lube-Tips subscribers list drums as the lubricant storage method used most frequently at their plant

Correct drum storage can be easily accomplished with just a little effort. The first step is to ensure that all drums are stored inside and away from the sun and rain. Outside storage can result in water ingression and cooking of the oil, which can degrade the lubricant before it even enters your equipment. Unused drums should be stored indoors and horizontally with the bungs at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions.

For open drums that are in use, be sure that the bungs are not left open, exposing the oil to the environment. If hand pumps are employed, they should be threaded tightly onto the drums. A proper filter should also be used. A drum-adapter kit with quick-connects and an attached desiccant breather will allow you to filter the oil in the drum as well as into equipment or top-up containers.

Remember, whether you use bulk storage, totes or drums, it is important to learn the most effective ways to store and handle lubricants in order to get the most from whatever storage method you choose.


Subscribe to Machinery Lubrication