Vacuum Pump Oil Substitute

Vacuum pump oil is a specialized lubricant specifically designed for use in vacuum pumps, and it differs from conventional oils due to its low vapor pressure and particular viscosity. It can be derived from distilled petroleum products or synthetic silicone-based oil with low sulfur content or hydro-treated or 2x/3x distilled oils.

Anti-oxidant, anti-foaming, and corrosion-resistant qualities are all important considerations when selecting the right vacuum pump oil. This article will provide further information about suitable alternatives to traditional vacuum pump oil.

Why Do You Need Vacuum Pump Oil?

This oil helps maintain the performance of a vacuum pump by lubricating its gear mechanism and collecting moisture and contaminants from the system. Its presence allows for smoother operation, making it an integral part of any set-up featuring a dry or oil-sealed vacuum pump.

Requirements To Be A Good Vacuum Pump Oil

The engine’s environment must be considered when selecting a vacuum pump oil. Using a hydrocarbon-based fluid in an oxygen-rich environment can cause oxidation and the formation of toxic products, which will ultimately damage the pump. Thus, non-reactive lines of fluids should be used when possible, with fire-resistant fluids available for automotive applications.

Substitutions For Vacuum Pump Oil

When selecting an oil for use in a vacuum pump, the viscosity of the oil should be taken into consideration. Generally, ISO 22 or ISO 32 is used for liquid ring vacuum pumps, while ISO 68 (SAE 20) or ISO 100 (SAE 30) is recommended for rotary vane vacuum pumps and ISO 220 (SAE 50) for process pumps. If a substitute must be used, it should have an equivalent viscosity to that specified by the manufacturer.

Refrigeration Oil:

Sunrise 3GS is a light mineral refrigeration oil with a 155 SUS/38*C specification. Its pour and flash points are -40 oC and 168 oC, respectively, making it an ideal choice for use instead of other refrigeration oils.

Hydro-Treated/Hydrocracked Oils:

Hydrocracked Oils
Hydrocracked Oils

HVO is a biofuel created through the hydrocracking or hydrogenation of vegetable oil. The process involves breaking down large molecules into smaller ones with hydrogen and adding additional hydrogen to those molecules to make them more usable for energy production. This technology provides an efficient and renewable source of fuel that can be used in various applications.

Polyalphaolefin (PAO):

These synthetic oils have been proven to perform well under high and low temperatures, with good oxidative and thermal stability. They also show excellent compatibility with mineral oils and other maximum synthetics.

Motor Oil:

It has been determined that straight 30-weight, non-detergent motor oil can be used as an alternative to vacuum pump oil.


This category includes both diesters and POEs, which are forms of synthetic oils. Their higher thermal stability makes them well-suited for applications subject to elevated temperatures.

Their high polarity and natural detergent-like properties prevent varnishing or sludge build-up, making them more advantageous. Furthermore, they are highly effective at cleaning surfaces.

A Comparison Chart For Compatible Substitutions

Fluid Characteristics Temperature Range Affordability
Refrigeration Oil
  • Constant thermal conductivity.
  • High natural viscosity index.
  • Thermal and Chemical Stability.
– 400C to + 150C. Cheap to Moderately Expensive
Hydro-treated/Hydrocracked Oils
  • Good low-temperature properties.
Very low temperatures. Cheap to Moderately Expensive
Polyalphaolefin (PAO)
  • High viscosity index.
  • Good thermal-oxidative stability.
  • Low volatility.
  • Compatible with mineral oils.
-60 to 125°C Cheap
Motor Oil
  • High viscosity index
  • Thermal stability
  • Oxidation stability
100 to107°C Cheap
  • Thermally stable.
  • High temperature tolerant.
  • Prevents varnishing or the build-up of sludge.
  • High polarity.
  • Natural detergent.
180 to 230°C Expensive

Which Substitute To Choose?

This analysis has concluded that Ester oils are the recommended substitutes for synthetic oils. They exhibit superior performance and solvency while being cost-effective compared to other alternatives. Furthermore, they provide a green-friendly solution as their ingredients are sourced from renewable sources.

What Happens If You Run A Vacuum Pump Without Oil?

Regular maintenance and lubrication of the vacuum pump are essential to ensure its proper functioning. Insufficient oil supply can cause severe damage, leading to jamming or incorrect operation, which could result in additional damage to other parts of the vehicle, such as an increase in engine temperature or overheating.

Additionally, a dry pump could lead to irreversible internal damage. To avoid this costly problem, regular inspection and lubrication of the vacuum pump is necessary.

Can You Add Oil To A Running Vacuum Pump?

The addition of oil to a vacuum pump should be done when it has achieved a hard vacuum for the best and cleanest results. Furthermore, utilizing the correct type of oil suited to the desired level is vital. The process begins with plugging in the pump before adding the appropriate oil. Lastly, topping off while the pump is running will ensure successful completion of this task.

How Often To Change The Vacuum Pump Oil?

Maintaining vacuum pumps is an essential part of ensuring their optimal performance. Over time, contaminants can enter the system and affect its efficiency. To prevent this from happening, it is necessary to change the pump’s oil when it has become contaminated.

A few tell-tale signs indicate when an oil change is needed in a vacuum pump — such as the pump level jumping above and below normal levels or discoloration of the oil. If the desired vacuum level cannot be reached, it may also be time for an oil change. It is essential to ensure that any replacement oils are disposed of in authorized locations only to remain environmentally conscious at all times.

Final Words

It is recommended that individuals refrain from seeking out substitutes for vacuum pump oil since the unique balance of viscosity it provides is essential. While one may be unable to find vacuum pump oil in their local area because it is usually derived from engine lubricants, using a proper vacuum pump oil when necessary should not be overlooked.

This article aims to provide potential alternatives when access to traditional vacuum pump oil proves difficult or impossible. It is highly suggested that this information be considered and utilized if faced with such an occasion.

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