Category: Articles

The Silicon Question

Square orange Si (silicon) symbol from the periodic table of elements

by Jim Stark In one of the early years of our business, we were visited by a gentleman from another laboratory. I remember him standing in our lobby emphatically stating that the element silicon – when it appears in the spectrometry of oil – has one source and one source only: abrasive dirt. He was… Read more »

Industrial Oil Analysis

white smoke coming from white and red factory smokestacks

Industrial machinery literally runs on oil, and the successful outcome of manufacturing depends on that oil being maintained properly. Plants that turn a blind eye to oil maintenance do so at great risk. Oil that becomes wet, acidic, or abrasive will turn on its host (machine) and become a liability. Oil maintenance programs, when in… Read more »

Particle Count Test

red particles connected with lines

The ISO Code is a system for representing particle concentrations in oil. The test is commonly referred to as the particle count. Without the use of the ISO Code, a confusing series of numbers would have to be examined to determine how clean an oil is. In oil laboratories, automatic particle counters determine the ISO… Read more »

What Are Insolubles?

cluster of test tubes against a purple-blue background

The insolubles test measures the total insoluble materials in an oil sample — that is, all solid or liquid materials that are not soluble (won’t mix) in with the oil. We test insolubles using the centrifuge method. A measured volume of oil is mixed with a heated solvent, agitated, and spun at high speed. Insoluble… Read more »

Spectrometry: The Marvel of the Lab

Green glowing light beams fanning out from one point on black background

We occasionally get questions about how oil analysis works. You send your oil to us and you get a report back, but what happens in the meantime? Is it magic? Some sort of voodoo? What happens to the oil that allows us to determine what’s in it? At the heart of oil analysis is a… Read more »

What is a Flash Point?

grayish black smoke vapors wafting upward on a white background

We use the flashpoint test to determine how much fuel dilution is present in your oil. Technically speaking, the flashpoint is the lowest temperature at which a liquid will generate sufficient vapor to flash (ignite) when exposed to a source of ignition or fire. In other words, at what temperature do the vapors coming off… Read more »

Soot: How Much is too Much?

Finger with soot on it next to excessive sooty sludge in an engine

Blackstone offers percent soot testing as an optional test above and beyond what we do in the standard analysis, which is checking for soot with the insolubles and viscosity tests. It’s something that a lot of our diesel customers have shown interest in. It can be challenging for people to understand how much soot is… Read more »

By-Pass Oil Filtration

Yellow oil filter inner pleats and outer black shell

Want to run your oil longer than you used to? Lots of people do. We take many factors into consideration when determining your optimal oil change. Many people think choosing the right oil is important, but in reality, you can run any API-certified oil indefinitely, as long as it’s not contaminated. That’s the real key:… Read more »

Motorcycle Analysis

Black and white image of a motorcycle parked with kickstand on a foggy day

Motorcycle engine oil leads a hard life, often serving triple duty in the engine, clutch, and transmission. And a lot of bikes are air-cooled, which tend to run hotter than their liquid-cooled counterparts. We know you want to keep your bike running as long as possible, and oil analysis is a terrific tool for doing… Read more »

About Aircraft Oils

tan Cessna-type high-wing airplane

Air-cooled aircraft engines are twitchy, heat-sensitive machines that create wide variations in wear depending on the type of aircraft they are installed on, the type of cylinders employed, how they are operated, and the environment they’re flown and stored in. They do not wear differently due to a particular brand of oil. There is a correct grade of… Read more »