AutomotiveFood and Drink

What Is Food Grade Grease and What Are Its Uses?

Learn importance of food grade grease used in food processing plants along with its various application methods.

Oil, grease, and other lubricants can turn into food additives because of disordered application, over lubrication, or leaks in machinery. Food-grade grease is a lubricant developed using synthetics and renders high performance without compromising health and safety.

Following are the Application of Food-Grade Grease:

  • Conveyor bearings
  • Caster races & bearings
  • High & slow speed chains
  • All types of ovens
  • High-temperature applications
  • All food production facilities
  • Elevator screws
  • Rolling bearings
  • Centralised lubrication systems
  • Gearboxes (grease lubricated)
  • Chassis
  • Bushings
  • All pharmaceutical facilities
  • Food processing industry etc.

Are Food Grade Greases Safe?

Food Grade Greases certified with ISO 21469 or NSF H1 registered are safe. Lubricants used in industries like food will have a certification mark on their packaging and labelling. Before awarding ISO 21469 certification or NSF H1 rating, a hygiene risk assessment on the chemical safety of the lubricant is performed to know if the chemical is:

  • Non-carcinogenic
  • Non-mutagenic
  • Non-toxic
  • Biologically active agents from spoilage, long-term storage, etc.
  • Biological risk resulting from pathogens formation
  • Ingression of dust, dirt, or metals

As long as food grade greases are certified by ISO 21469 or NSF H1 registered, they are safe.

Why We Need Food Grade Grease?

The FSMA (Food Safety & Modernization Act) focuses rigorously on foodborne illness, responds to it, and prevents it. One of the ways to achieve this is to pay attention to the lubricants used to manufacture and maintain machinery that until now had very toxic chemicals such as Black Graphite, Barium, and Lithium.

Greases are made of the following three components:

Base Oil

A petroleum or mineral oil is adequate for most applications. Applications involving very cold or hot temperatures are often better supported by greases using a synthetic base oil.

Additives

Additives are often added to enhance specific properties of the grease or add new properties that boost performance. For instance, additives that obstruct rust and oxidation are common. Additives used in different grease may not blend with each another. For example, when you pour fresh grease into a system, it will continue pumping till all the old grease is pushed out through the seals and other areas of the system. It will avert any inconsistency between additives in the old and fresh grease that may reduce performance.

Thickener

Metallic lithium soap is used by several greases as a thickener. It contains ingredients such as aluminium, calcium, bentonite clay, and sodium. Sometimes, an agent is added to the thickener to enhance its performance. And some greases make use of thickeners such as bentonite or silica in place of soap. These won’t melt when used at high temperatures.

Following are the Application Methods:

Grease Guns

Grease available in bulk containers or cartridges is generally applied using a grease gun connected to a grease fitting. It provides a more meticulous, localised application than aerosols, with less waste. Grease guns are perfect for various automotive uses, heavy-duty equipment, factory machine parts, etc.

Aerosols

Aerosol grease lubrication can be applied to areas that are difficult to reach and does not have a grease fitting for lubrication, removing the need to disassemble machinery to lubricate it. Some aerosol sprays out in a thin fluid and then thickens, while others spray out pre-thickened. Aerosols are simple to use and convenient and are ideal for window mechanisms, latches, door hinges, chains, cables, industrial bearings, locks, etc.

Hand Application

If you can’t use a grease gun, then greases available in tubs, bulk containers, or squeeze tubes can be applied by hand if required. However, make sure to check Safety Data Sheet before handling it to ensure it would not develop skin irritation. Wearing protective nitrile gloves is recommended.

Final Words

Several greases available on the market are ideal for general purpose use, so they work well for most automotive and industrial applications in normal conditions. Nonetheless, some greases are made especially for conditions or applications where general-purpose grease won’t work. Petroleum-based greases disappear over time, some quicker than others, so ensure reapplying it often to keep your machinery lubricated and shielded, and in pristine condition.

Read Also: Cleaning and disinfection in the food industry: best practices

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