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How To Select Food-Grade Grease? A Basic Insight

H1 Food-grade Grease Selection Tips for Bearings

Machines manufacturing food, beverage and pharmaceutical goods must be lubricated with food-grade greases, governed by special rules, to safeguard product purity, safety and health. Food-grade greases and oils must be developed following stringent guidelines for chemical composition introduced by the FDA under title 21CFR Part 178.3570, “Lubricants with Incidental Food Contact.” The NSF (National Sanitation Foundation), under DIN Standard V 0010517, 2000-08, has defined three food-grade lubricant classifications as listed below:

  • H1 Food-grade lubricants are developed to withstand possible incidental food contact in trace amounts.

  • H2 Food-grade lubricants are used on machinery or equipment where there is no chance of any food contact. These are used in processing areas below the processing line or utilities.

  • H3 Food-grade lubricants protect trolleys, hooks and similar equipment from corrosion and rust. These are edible oils and used where there is a possibility of direct food contact when the equipment is functioning.

Many friction/wear additives, base oils, polymer modifiers, water displacers and corrosion inhibitors are very effective in industrial grade H2 lubricants but can’t be used in H1 developed oils and greases.

What are the Lubrication Challenges in Food, Beverage & Pharmaceutical Industries?

Those who maintain equipment in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries face some unique lubrication challenges. This equipment is subjected to constant sanitation involving steam, water exposure, sanitising agents and cleaning chemicals. Furthermore, this equipment remains exposed to the same impact, stress and vibration as in many industrial environments. These conditions can ruin bearings and possibly deteriorate many standard lubricating H1 greases, leading to unexpected failures and closures.

Here, you’ll learn how to choose a superior H1 food-grade grease for getting the best performance and reliability.

Bearing Lubrication: What are the Considerations for Food-Grade Lubricants?

Above 59% of bearing failures occur due to lubrication problems per the Bearing Manufacturer’s Association. The percentage of this problem may be higher in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. One of the best materials for machinery in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries is stainless steel. It has the corrosion resistance to withstand frequent water wash downs, exposure to acid/alkali and sanitising agents. Furthermore, it provides resistance to rust to avert contamination of the product.

Nevertheless, due to mechanical ductility, most bearings in stainless steel machinery are built using carbon steel. These carbon steel bearings develop rust more quickly than the equipment, particularly under constant water exposure and cleaning. It often leads to untimely bearing failures. Sometimes, stainless steel bearing parts are used to lower bearing corrosion in these industries. But, this approach didn’t see much success. CrNi alloy bearing surfaces are prone to gall and work harden. Moreover, CrNi alloy bearings may have a lower load rating by up to 50% compared to their carbon steel counterparts.

Choosing the Optimal Food-Grade Grease for Bearings

Measuring the limitations of selected lubrication technology in relation to service conditions is vital. It will help lubricate processing and production machinery bearings effectively. Food grade grease is used to reduce corrosion of bearings including its components like rollers, balls, cages etc. Selection of the right grease ensures hassle-free food equipment or machinery operations. Consider lower base oil viscosity for heavily loaded bearings and high base oil viscosity for high-temperature applications.

And it is essential to consider the environmental and mechanical service conditions and all factors affecting the application, which include:

  • Water Exposure
  • Corrosion Factors
  • Metal Wear
  • Temperature
  • Speed & Bearing Size
  • Shock/Vibration

Characteristics of H1 Food-Grade Lubricant – Greases:

  • Water-resistant/ Waterproof
  • Endures heavy workloads
  • Powerful adhesion
  • Wide range of uses
  • Mechanically stable
  • Good flow properties at low temperatures
  • Extreme adhesion
  • Thixotropic properties
  • Endures extreme environments
  • Thermally stable
  • Resistant to acids & alkaline
  • Low evaporation properties
  • It prevents corrosion on electrical connections
  • It prevents voltage drop & arcing
  • Compatible with polymers & rubbers
  • Keeps components operating smoothly

Applications of H1 Registered Food-Grade Lubricant – Greases:

  • Food processing industry
  • Food processing facility
  • Centralised lubrication systems
  • Gearboxes (grease lubricated)
  • Chassis, Bushings
  • High-temperature applications
  • All food production facilities
  • All pharmaceutical facilities
  • Elevator screws, Open gears, Chains, Hydrostatic cookers, Slides
  • Low speed, high load bearings
  • Extreme applications
  • Vacuum/oxygen-applications
  • Long-time lubrication
  • Bearings, Rolling bearings
  • Joints & pivots
  • Bushings
  • Threads
  • Saltwater contact, Steam contact
  • Electrical terminals & switches
  • Junction boxes and connections
  • O’rings and seals
  • Flow meters
  • Hydraulic & Pneumatic components

The Bottom Line

It requires special attention to select proper food-grade greases in the equipment of the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. Determine and prioritize environmental challenges, application conditions, current performance levels and bearings size. And compare H1 food-grade grease attributes of different brands against ascertained priorities. The systematic lubricants selection process will help lower bearing failures and help you to achieve the utmost performance.

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