View Full Version : "natural" (???) cutting oil

09-05-2005, 12:25 AM
I am lookong for a general purpose, (preferably fairly heavy duty), cutting lubricant that is as close to completely harmless as possible, even if the user is exposed daily and has less than optimal ventilation. This is for manual turning or milling & drilling. (from 6061 to 304) Sometimes soluble oil works for me but generally I need something heavier bodied. I find the smoke produced when most oils get hot noxious and irritating. (I know these products are not coolants but in the real world cutting oil gets hot.) I had a can of a paste called "Tilia screw cutting paste" that was phenomenally effective and had no sulphur or chlorine etc. in it yet worked better than all the brands of cutting oil I've come across. (I've tried lots of them.) I't was made out of seed oils and smelled like pan cakes when it smoked. I can't find it anywhere now. I find olive oil pretty effective on aluminum, but not much else. I hear about lard oil, but does it work well w/o additives? Do the newer vegetable base products all have chlorine or sulphur? (help!)

09-05-2005, 05:09 AM
give pledge aerosol furniture polish a go.
and report back
all the best...mark

09-05-2005, 07:29 AM
I know what you mean about the "noxious and irritating." For a while I was using kerosene when turning aluminum, but I found the smoke would give me a fierce headache after a while...probably not a good thing!

Lard oil works well, at least on steel. I used it for a while, but gave up on it because of its tendency to grow fur.

09-05-2005, 08:13 AM
Pancakes? Mix some batter up and try it as lubricant! Might be just the thing.

I know that you are looking for something totally harmless and smells good but... Have you tried a product called Hocut?

I don't think that it smells horrid, the salesman noted that it is water based and made to be dumped down the drain when finished.

My only gripe is when misting it onto a cutting area, I can't breath any of the mist in or I'll have a sore throat for days. The smoke does not bother me. I found that a small fan blowing the mist away from me keeps me in good shape.

Although, the other fellers that use it don't seem to have that same problem with the mist. Just a thought.

[This message has been edited by rockrat (edited 09-05-2005).]

John Stevenson
09-05-2005, 08:25 AM
Some people reckon on bacon grease it does smoke but what a wonderfull smell.

Be aware though you can get SERIOUS friction burns slapping two slices of bread around a 4" shaft doing 500 rpm.

John S.

09-05-2005, 08:40 AM
Bacon grease, hmmmmmm. Wonder if a bit o black puddin' would work?

Tin Falcon
09-05-2005, 10:29 AM
Try this stuff for the tough metals it is water based so do not leave it sitting on tools. Cleanand and oil them if left on it will leave corrosion. It is FDA approved for food equipment and can be thinned with water. When I worked at the yacht factory the metal shop bought it by the gallon and thined it. It is a bit thick right out of the bottle. works good take a look at http://www.anchorlube.com/ it is available at MSC etc in various sized cotainers
Normal disclaimer

Paul Alciatore
09-05-2005, 12:00 PM
In keeping with the "HOME SHOP" in the board's title (and no offense intended to the pros here who's presence and wisdom I greatly appreciate), I would like to add my concerns about cleanup after the job is done. In the home shop, work is not a 9-5 activity. It is a few hours a week when time is available. So I feel that any discussion of the merits of various cutting fluids needs to also include the need for cleanup after the job and the extent to which that cleanup needs to be done.

I experimented with a water based coolant but gave up on it because I often did not have time to clean up throughly when the job was done at 11 or 12 PM. One must sleep sometime. Also, many times I have a set up on the mill that must remain in place for several days while I find the time for all the operations needed. I just finished a index drilling job that required about a week of evenings. I used oil based coolant because my brief experiment with water based showed me that even one night of soaking in that coolant was enough to start the rusting process. It gets everywhere, into every crack and opening. Many of these places can not be cleaned without destroying the job set up.

These things are bad enough on the mill. The lathe is even worse as more of the machine is exposed to the coolant spray.

I have experimented with some vegetable based oils. I did a job with just plain kitchen oil. It cut OK, not as good as commercial fluids, but OK. And no problem with starting rust, but it dried to a sticky film on the lathe. Hard to clean up. Perhaps another brand. I haven't tried bacon grease. We don't use much bacon so I would have to find a source.

But I would like to see more discussion on the need for cleanup and the difficulty of that operation.

Paul A.

Paul Alciatore
09-05-2005, 12:13 PM
As for breathing the vapors, I also am very concerned. It is not only what is put into the fluid by the manufacturer but also the chemical compounds that can be formed by the heat of cutting. The intense heat of a red hot chip can initiate chemical reactions that would never happen at room temperature. So just insuring that the chemicals (eveything is a chemical, even natural substances) used to make the fluid are harmless is not enough. I have never seen a label that listed the chemicals that can be formed from the chemicals in the product at higher temperatures.

By all means, do choose a fluid that does not contain toxic chemicals. But I would also strongly recommend good ventilation. I have a shop with normal ventilation. Central AC system. But I also have fans, including a small "personal" style fan that can be positioned wherever needed to direct the fumes away from me. I often place it directly on the lathe ways or mill table. I also use it when soldering. These fans are inexpensive and if your employer is not willing to pay a few dollars for one, you could easily get your own. I would strongly recommend it.

Paul A.

09-05-2005, 12:16 PM
I would think you could substitute lard in place of bacon grease. Much cleaner than bacon grease but it won't have that nice bacon smell.

Even though prices have gone up a lot since I last bought a 1# box of lard I would think that it is still very cheap.

May be worth trying.

Now for threading with taps and dies I've had shortening (Crisco, etc.) highly recommended and it does work well. It stays solid enough to push the chips ahead of the tool.

Tin Falcon
09-05-2005, 01:43 PM
I agee with your concern about clean-up time. I to am mostly a HSM and have left the shop diry at night do to having to get up early the next morning for the "day Job" Yes I have also been fortunate enough to get experience and training by machining as a day job. When I was at the boat yard I was furunate engough to get some samples of the anchor lube to use at home as well. The only cleanup problem I had was when I left it on a tap and put it back in the drawer even at that it only left minor corosion and did not ruin the tap.Also I tended to use it on the thick side and not thin it too much. dab it on and it mosly stays put it does not run everwhere. I may have overstated the caution here. As for the bacon grease the salts in it would be a major concern as to coroision problems on the machines

[This message has been edited by Tin Falcon (edited 09-05-2005).]

09-05-2005, 07:27 PM
Thanks for the suggestions, all.
So much to consider ( . . .Lemmon Pledge? . . .whole wheat or white? . . . apple wood cured or hickory smoked? . . .crisco? pollo manteca??)
Where does one get lard oil for metal cutting?
Ever tried lard mixed with graphite?
Tin, the Anchorlube looks promising; I'm going to try that. Rockrat, I see that Houghton makes lots of stuff; which Hocut lube do you like for general purpose dabbing?
Paul, at the day job shop I do like to keep the soluble oil inside the NC machine because of the mess, but sometimes I really need a coolant elsewhere and have to fill a big squirt bottle and blast away.
I very rarely use it in my little home shop.
I too find positioning a little "muffin fan" near the tool often helps. I get some amount of cutting oil on my hands and I wonder also about absorbing stuff through the skin -it might add up over the years.

09-05-2005, 10:40 PM
Hocut 795 is the good all around stuff. I think that we were using 300 series but I can't remember what the old stuff was.

When using Hocut, if you have a problem with rust, you need to mix it with less water. Too much water and it wont leave enough of the oil behind after evaporation. And the sumps don't smell horrid.

For spot applications Hocut in a little bottle. Also, I keep a can of WD40 around.

Castrol has some tapping goop that works nice. Safety draw and Moly dee both work well. Kerosene and other flammables are only used when I absoulty need them.

I have never tried olive oil, for cutting. We have used Pam at work when extruding stainless and didn't want to use something nasty.

Never gave it much thought, lubricants around the house that is. Honey? Butter? Beer? Seems like they might get rancid.

Babby oil? Oh, come on now, y'all were thinking it. Were are all grown up here right. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif Besides, its cheaper than the castrol.

[This message has been edited by rockrat (edited 09-05-2005).]

09-05-2005, 10:53 PM
aw, come on! are you guys telling me you can't get whale oil where you live???

seriously, i have also been searching for the perfect non-toxic cutting oil/coolant. if anyone comes up with anything please post it back to this thread. even if it's a year from now as i will still be interested.

andy b.

Allan Waterfall
09-06-2005, 03:07 AM
I use a mixture of.....

3 parts olive oil
2 parts white spirit(forgot what you call it in the States)
1 part GENUINE turpentine.

I've been using this for about 2 years.Nice pine smell from the turps.No rust or skin problems.

The white spirit is what we use for cleaning paint brushes,obtainable from decorating shops.


09-06-2005, 03:23 AM
Good old fashioned recipes http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif
From "Engineering Workshop Practice":
Lubricant for tapping iron and steel consists of equal parts of white lead and sperm oil ( not your own http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif )
or 10 parts powdered graphite; 30 parts of tallow; 40 parts of white lead; and 20 parts of lard oil.
For tapping cast iron add a little paraffin will give good results.
For tapping stainless steel use neatsfoot oil alone or with the addition of white lead as recomended by the steel manufacturers.
For tapping aluminium use beeswax or tallow.
For tapping copper use lard oil, soluble oil or heavy machine oil.
Take your pick http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif
Isn`t lard just refined pig fat? I know it works well on the BBQ http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

[This message has been edited by speedy (edited 09-06-2005).]

Mike Gibson
09-06-2005, 08:00 AM
I have been considering trying peanut oil. Anyone ever try that?

09-06-2005, 10:19 AM
Edgelube - out of the MSC Catalogue. I use this in the school shop because of ease of clean-up, versatility in application, and very safe properties. Works quite well on nearly everything. Apply lightly.

It is a stick, like a bar of soap, but very soft. Almost a paste.

Costs about $7.00 for a 16 ounce bar - and in the school shop applications, we probably go through one bar to two bars a year among 35 students per year

I have been through countless different "safe" pastes and stick cutting fluids, this is the ebst yet. It does smoke up, smells quite like burning lard, which it is probably mostly made of, but it is safe.

Clean up is through the chip disposal - no special precautions required.

Sine Wave
09-06-2005, 02:04 PM
Have been using lard and turpentine all this year with good results. A million years ago when I was an engineering apprentice my old mentor Bert always made his own cutting stuff. The company (Ferranti) had all sorts of weird concoctions, Bert shunned them all for the lardy mix.

Was trying to turn this odd piece of steel which was full of hard bits using some old car oil. Could not get a good finish, then I remembered Bert and his lard...finish much improved.

75% lard 25% turpentine.