When searching for lubricants that are good for the environment you wouldn't be alone if you're confused about the way they are named. Today in the lubricant market you will see oils that are "environmentally-friendly", "inherently biodegradable", and "readily biodegradable". Is there a difference between these names? Absolutely.
Standard mineral hydraulic oil is made with a base oil that typically contains zinc. Zinc is used as an anti-wear agent but is toxic to aquatic life. So this type of oil is not considered to be environmentally friendly.
Zinc-free hydraulic oils are considered to be environmentally friendly. This is because you can use them around bodies of water without releasing zinc into the environment. These oils can meet the requirements for working in an area of water but they are not always biodegradable even with low toxicity ratings. These products would be the same as conventional oils without the use of zinc.
Products that are advertised using the name "inherently biodegradable" are made of a mixture of conventional base oils with a small portion of them being biodegradable.
True biodegradable products will have the label "readily biodegradable". These are defined as a product that can biodegrade completely ( >60% by ASTM Standard test method D7373) within 28 days.
When searching for lubricants to meet your job requirements it's important to understand the differences between "environmentally-friendly", "inherently biodegradable", and "readily biodegradable". If you're unsure what the right product is to meet your needs please give us a call at 1.800.463.0354 for more information.