Viscosity and Viscosity Index

Basic Lubrication

Basic Lubrication   »  Viscosity and Viscosity Index

Industrial lubricants, with its proven function and importance to machineries, has various physical properties that directly influences its effectiveness. Here are some of the most common physical properties that most lubricants possess:




Viscosity is resistance to flow, and it is the physical property of lubricants that enables the separation of two sliding or rolling surfaces, thereby reducing friction.

It is measured in terms of centistokes (cSt) at 40oC (or mm2/sec), wherein a low number indicates a low viscosity (high flow) material, and a high number denoting a high viscosity (low flow) material.  As examples, water would have a viscosity of 1 cSt at 40oC, while honey registers 1,200 c

The International Standards Organization (ISO) created viscosity grades (VG’s) for the purposes of simplicity and practicality, and below are the standard ISO viscosity grades:

Viscosity Index (VI)


All lubricants experience a decrease in viscosity as application temperatures become higher.  Conversely, lubricants increase in viscosity upon exposure to lower temperatures.

It is therefore important to ensure, especially for high temperature applications, or for situations with wide temperature fluctuations, that the lubricant retains a sufficient level of oil film thickness despite elevated temperatures.   A lubricant’s failure to provide a sufficient oil film can cause a boundary lubrication condition wherein there are high friction and contact between surfaces, producing excessive wear.


In such situation, the selection of a lubricant with a ‘higher’ Viscosity Index may be appropriate.

Viscosity Index is a rating, or an empirical score of a lubricant’s rate of decrease in viscosity upon exposure to a higher temperature.   A lesser rate of decrease in viscosity is generally preferred, as the remaining lubricating film contributes better to friction reduction.  Such a lubricant merits a high viscosity index.


Viscosity Index or VI is derived by taking the viscosity of a lubricant at 40oC and at 100oC

Communicate with our
lubrication consultants!