Best practices for storing lubricants

oil barrels storage


Quick Summary

  • Recommended storage time for lubricant oils and lithium-based greases is 12 months
  • Store inside or undercover and avoid storing in extreme temperatures
  • Drum bungs should always be sealed and tight when not in use
  • Keep away from potential contamination (dust etc.)


Storing metal barrels / drums

When it rains, the water creates a small pool on top of the barrel and the bungs can become submerged in water. When the barrel heats and cools, it breathes which can result in water entering the barrel. This can happen to barrels that have not been opened yet too.

Once the water is in the oil it will begin to separate and sit at the bottom of the barrel, so using a barrel pump which will pump directly from the bottom of the barrel, will inevitably result in damaging the vehicle or machinery with water contaminated oil.

The best way to mitigate the risk of this happening is by storing barrels inside or undercover. However, when storing outside is unavoidable, another simple and inexpensive solution is to place a small block under one edge of the barrel, so it leans slightly to the side and ensure the bungs are at 3 and 9 o’clock positions. This will allow the water to drain off the barrel and not be sucked in as the barrel breathes.

For best results in maximising the life of a lubricant is to keep it clean, dry and cool. See below a table highlighting variables that influence storage life of new lubricants.


Maximise storage life

Minimise storage life

Storage temperature



Temperature variability




Plastic containers / drums

Poorly conditioned metal drums




Outdoor storage