Sewing machines are a great resource to have at home, but most resources require other resources to maintain optimal function. To prevent your sewing machine from overheating or spinning its gears until they need replacements, routine maintenance is a must. Part of maintenance involves oiling gears and other parts of the machine that constantly grind against each other. Picking a sewing machine oil substitute is one of the first steps to keeping it clean.
What Is Sewing Machine Oil?
Sewing machine oil is one version of a petroleum distillate called paraffin oil. Liquid paraffin oil goes by several aliases, including mineral oil, white oil, mineral oil, Russian mineral oil, paraffin wax, or liquid petroleum. The number of names it has reflects its uses: forms of liquid paraffin are used to fuel kerosene lamps, jets and rockets, cook food, heat homes, and cure constipation.
Kerosene is sometimes called paraffin oil but isn’t consideredto be mineral oil. However, mineral oil is also considered paraffin oil and derived from petroleum as well. Mineral oil undergoes more refining than kerosene and tends to be a more viscous substance than lamp fluid. The result leads to an edible petroleum fluid that requires a noticeably higher temperature to light than kerosene, igniting at 365 degrees Fahrenheit instead of 100 to 150.
Why Keep Mineral Oil Around?
- Food Grade - Safe for use on wood and bamboo cutting boards, countertops, utensils, salad bowls and wood products
Mineral oil is a versatile liquid to have at home.
The Code of Federal Regulations list mineral oil as a common agent used in supplements, for de-foaming food, for adding a shiny, protective coating over raw fruits and vegetables, for coating frozen meat, for reducing dust accumulation over foods like rice, wheat, soybeans, barley, oats, and rye, and for confectionary purposes. Being an odorless, thin yet refined liquid gives it purposes in a wide array of places within our food.
Since paraffin oil isn’t absorbed by the intestinal tract, it also acts as an effective laxative. Beyond digestion, white mineral oil is used in the formulation of numerous medicinal creams, balms, ointments, and penicillin because of its lubricating properties.
Petroleum lubricants, while being a potential sewing machine oil substitute, are also useful for oiling surfaces regardless of whether they’re epidermal or metal. Paraffin oil is a key ingredient in various forms of make-up such as lipstick, foundation cream, lip balm, and skin moisturizers. For less intensive skin necessities, mineral oil can give skin the humidity it needs to heal quickly, which has uses for diaper rash, eczema, and various scrapes accumulated across the body. A common form of mineral oil used on skin is baby oil, though the only difference between baby oil and normal mineral oil is additional aromatics thrown in the mix.
White oil’s preservative properties extend to plastics and technology used in health services too. Applying mineral oil to poker chips can give them a better feel and appearance. Scientists use mineral oil in molecular biology to manage water during polymerase chain reactions, which are a way of creating multiple copies of a particular segment of DNA. Examining the structure of atoms in crystalline solids through a method called x-ray Crystallography also often involves mineral oil used for suspending the crystals being observed.
The number of things mineral oil can do appears to be endless. Its versatility explains the reasons why it’s the primary ingredient in sewing machine oil.
Why Do Sewing Machines Need Oil?
Maintenance is essential to maintaining a sewing machine or any other conglomerate of metal gears working together towards a common goal. When sewing machines aren’t consistently kept in top condition, their gears turn slower with more noisy grinding as they move. As sewing machines stitch pieces of cloth together, lint, dust, and grime are commonly left entangled within the machine. Oiling quickens the sewing rig until dirt builds up along the gears again.
What Happens If You Skip Oiling?
Sewing machines not kept in optimal condition while under further use will wear out sooner than they otherwise should. They gradually lose lubrication during use, and that can lead to the sewing machine slowing down. Letting them dilapidate further raises the chances of gears in the sewing machine breaking down entirely. At that point you’ll either have to carry out your own complicated repair or send it out to be fixed.
Rather than dealing with any of this, one can simply rely on lubricating their sewing machine’s gears with mineral oil. Problems arise when the mineral oil you have isn’t enough for all your sewing needs, but here again there is some disagreement. Some people suggest using a sewing machine oil substitute for typical mineral oil is fine. Others think that there is no such thing as a substitute for sewing machine oil.
Sewing Machine Oil Substitutes
Sewing machine oil is a form of mineral oil made for lubricating the gears of a sewing machine. The greatest issue with using a substitute is that it likely wasn’t made with sewing machines in mind. While they may provide similar lubricating properties and impede the wearing down of machine gears, they’re just as likely to speed up the problem they’re meant to prevent.
Specs of Sewing Machine Oil
A sewing machine substitute oil should closely resemble its source material. Since mineral is a highly refined, thin, colorless, odorless substance with a density of around 0.8g/cm^3, any replacements should ideally follow suit. Substances that are similarly oily but aren’t as unobtrusive as mineral oil are the sort that will cause future issues.
- Since 1894 this versatile multi-purpose drip oil has been a trusted tool used by professional tradesmen and do-it-yourselfers
3-in-1 oil is a lubricant commonly recommended for an array of metal surfaces including nuts and bolts, bicycles, bike chains, wheels, fans, hinges, and to polish pianos. For use as a sewing machine lubricant, 3-in-1 isn’t the best choice. The initial solvent will evaporate and leave a sticky residue that slows the same gears they should smooth.
- DRIVES OUT MOISTURE: Drives out moisture and quickly dries out electrical systems to eliminate moisture-induced short circuits.
WD-40, a solvent developed during the 1950s for protecting missiles from corrosion and rust turned into a multi-purpose household solvent, can be useful for cleaning the gunk out of a sewing machine’s gears. It shouldn’t be used as a replacement for sewing machine oil, however, as it’ll dry the machine rather than lubricating it.
Other Household Oils and Petroleums
Speaking of petroleum-based fluids, gasoline, motor oil, and anything with scents reminiscent of either substance should be avoided. Jumping from the car to the kitchen, various forms of cooking oil are poor similarly ideas.
- During the summer months products may arrive warm but Amazon stores and ships products in accordance with manufacturers' recommendations, when provided.
If no other oil is available but something needs sewing, people occasionally recommend jojoba oil. Jojoba oil is an oil with a composition closely resembling the sebum that is typically used to moisturize hair and skin. Unlikely mineral oil, it isn’t derived from petroleum, and it isn’t colorless or odorless. Also unlike mineral oil, it may work for temporary bouts of sewing but is susceptible to aiding in the machine’s breakdown. This depends on the sewing machine in question and the materials it’s made of.
Every possible alternative appears to have its setbacks, but one of the most commonly chosen sewing machine oil substitutes is Tri-flow oil. Tri-flow oil’s main ingredient is mineral oil; the difference is its additional components. Tri-flow oil contains both mineral oil and Teflon, two hydrophobic substances with high heat resistance helpful for lubricating surfaces. Teflon is also found in lubricants for musical instruments, which may be part of the reason some people recommend key oil for sewing machines. Key oil is a lubricant meant to keep the metal keys on woodwind instruments from corroding or otherwise deteriorating.
- Pure synthetic based formula, performs in temperatures of -10 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
Some type of grease is also necessary for sewing machines. Oil is too thin by itself to keep the gears of a sewing machine lubricated for long, so grease is used instead. Again, Tri-flow grease is a great option. Lithium grease and vaseline are two other common choices. Some suggest that lithium grease will dry out too fast but vaseline is often recommended for temporary use.
Deciding which oil to lubricate your sewing machine can be a hopeless task if you don’t already have the intended lubricant. There isn’t a genuine sewing machine substitute oil for mineral oil. The substitutions that exist all have noticeable drawbacks or don’t even fulfill their intended role. The only oils considered proper substitutes either contain mineral oil, as is the case with Tri-flow oil, or their properties are close enough to mineral oil to replicate its effects. Nothing that doesn’t contain mineral oil or is petroleum-based will be quite as effective for sewing machines. Alternatives exist but solve as many problems as they solve.
The most important thing to do when searching for a sewing machine oil substitute is read the manual made for your particular machine’s model. Your manual will have all the specifics on what would and wouldn’t be an appropriate lubricant for your machine.
Last update on 2021-04-22 at 18:29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API