Synthetic oil is a product that contains additional chemical ingredients that are not present in crude oil. These additional ingredients are synthesized or created artificially and added to petroleum as a means of meeting specific needs for lubrication. Synthetic products are used for everything from lubricating large machinery at production plants to use in the engine of the family car.
The creation of synthetic oil can be traced back to the first half of the 20th century. Germany made great use of these products during World War II, since the nation had very limited resources in terms of crude oil. It was used to maintain motors in factories, keep ground vehicles operational, and even for use as heating oil in some cases.
By the 1960s, oil corporations in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and South Africa all developed artificial oil products for use in industry settings as well as for consumers. Today, these products are routinely used in many different settings, especially with the automobile industry.
There are a number of advantages associated with the creation of synthetic oil products. First, the addition of artificial ingredients helps to ease the burden on dwindling crude oil reserves, making it possible to use natural oil more efficiently. Synthetic products often minimize oil sludge issues in automobiles and machine engines, which is a benefit for cars and other motor driven machinery that are older. The viscosity performance of synthetics compares favorably with natural oil products and in some cases may be preferable. For example, a car engine that has over 100,000 miles (160,934 km) on it will likely encounter less wear and tear by making use of synthetic oil.
Another major benefit of synthetic products is a more efficient performance when an engine or motor is started in cold weather. This means that the oil begins to lubricate all the working parts more quickly than crude oil products. This means less of a chance of gumming and unnecessary wear on the individual components of the engine.
While synthetic oil was originally developed as a way to deal with a shortage of crude oil products, the artificial oils of today are often used due to the better performance. During periods when the price of crude oil rises significantly, synthetic products may also be a less expensive lubricant option.