What Are Synthetic Lubricants

What is AMSOIL … and how it’s made?

What is AMSOIL and how is it made? It starts with synthetic base oils manufactured to higher performance levels. AMSOIL oil is chemically engineered with specific molecular composition that is the key to the desired performance properties of these fluids. This chemically engineered structure results in an end-product that is far more stable than refined petroleum products.

Video Series hosted by Banks Power

How is it made, what additives are used and why and what qualities define a superior synthetic motor oil? These are just a few of the questions that will be will answered in this interview series alone with a tour of the AMSOIL INC. manufacturing plant.

How is AMSOIL made?

Chemistry basics

Chemical lab testing

Mechanical lab testing

The Process of Synthetic Lubricants

Conventional oils–the oils most people are familiar with–are refined from crude oil. Refining is a process of physically separating light oil components from heavy ones.

Crude oil contains millions of different kinds of molecules. Many are similar in weight but not in structure. The refining process cannot distinguish such molecules, so a wide assortment of molecules is present in the finished lubricant made from crude oil stocks.

Some crude oil molecules are not beneficial to the lubrication process. For example, paraffin causes refined lubricants to thicken and flow poorly in cold temperatures. Molecules containing sulfur, nitrogen and other elements invite the formation of sludge and other products of lubricant breakdown, especially in high-temperature applications. Sludge and breakdown products significantly increase wear rates.

These are the chemicals that help modern motor oils meet the increasing demands of today’s high-tech engines. Their quality varies widely throughout the lubrication industry, ranging from a bare minimum in some oils (to comply with certain requirements) to exceptionally high quality, as in all AMSOIL motor oils and the complete product line of synthetic lubricants.

“The main advantage of mineral oils is their low cost.
The main limitation of mineral oils is that… the lubricant-sized molecules have a variety of structures ranging from the best to the worst (in terms of wear control).”
A. Jackson, Mechanical Engineering Transactions

The assorted molecules of refined lubricants also have different shapes, making lubricant surfaces irregular at the molecular level. As lubricant layers flow across one another during the lubrication process, these irregularities create friction, which consumes power, reduces efficiency and increases heat and wear.

Oil Testing For Quality & Contaminants

Synthetic Lubricants


The feedstocks from which synthetic lubricants are made do not contain sulfur, nitrogen or other elements that invite the formation of sludge and other products of lubricant breakdown. Synthetic lubricants can be used in higher temperatures than refined lubricants without breaking down. Their resistance to breakdown also allows them to be used longer than refined lubricants can be used. Lubricated systems stay cleaner and last longer with synthetic lubricants.

Synthetic lubricants differ from refined oils in three key ways: synthetics are pure, their molecular structure is uniform, and they may be designed to work in applications in which refined oils cannot.

Lab Synthetic Lubricants Being Made


The feedstocks from which synthetic lubricants are made feature a uniform and smooth molecular structure, which ensures low friction as lubricant layers slide across one another.  Reduced friction increases energy through-put for greater fuel efficiency and power and reduces heat and wear for longer equipment life.

Molecular uniformity also helps synthetics resist thinning in heat and thickening in cold, which helps them protect better than refined oils over a system’s operating temperature range and helps ensure secure sealing.  Field experience has shown that synthetics can give economic benefits when used in place of mineral oils which were working satisfactorily.  The benefits fall in five general areas:

  • Improved energy efficiency
  • Wider operating temperature range
  • Increased design ratings
  • Reduced maintenance
  • Better reliability and safer operation


Many different kinds of feedstocks may be used to create synthetic lubricants, allowing a synthetic to be designed for virtually any application.  Some feedstocks are ideal for use in extremely cold environments.  Others are perfect for use in extreme heat.  Some are extremely safe in applications in which refined lubricants pose a fire or explosion hazard. Refined oils simply do not offer the design flexibility synthetics offer.

The design flexibility of synthetics also allows them to be tailored very specifically to the needs of everyday applications, such as automotive engines, commercial equipment or much industrial machinery.  That specificity helps ensure long life and peak power, performance and fuel economy from the lubricated system and long lubricant life.

AMSOIL oil is chemically engineered from pure chemicals rather than refined from crude oil.

That gives them a significant advantages over refined (conventional) oils.

In 1973 AMSOIL introduced the first API certified synthetic motor oil for automotive use. Today these oils continue to surpass API standards giving our customers the best engine protection.

Why AMSOIL synthetic oil?

AMSOIL synthetic oils are formulated with a patented synthetic (synthesized or synthetically combined) base stock oil technology, which produces advantages far beyond other lubricants. A few of the inherent qualities of AMSOIL’s base stock oil include:Temperature Performance of Motor Oils

  • Resistance to high temperature volatility (will not evaporate at moderate to high temps)
  • Lower cold weather pour points (Amsoil ALM 5W-20  -53 ºC / -63 ºF)
  • Higher shear strength (Amsoil up to 3,000 psi. / compared to 800 psi. with conventional oils)
  • Resist oxidation (one of the primary reasons for oil destruction)

In addition to a superior base stock technology, AMSOIL includes a chemically advanced additive package specific to equipment applications. The finished product exceeds industry standards and ranks highest in overall performance and protection. Making these oils since 1972, AMSOIL is recognized as the leader in the industry by continually setting higher engineering benchmarks. The company’s position is never to formulate its lubricants down to a cheaper price, but rather to engineer products to be the best in the industry.

AMSOIL formulates a wide variety of synthetic oils and lubricants for use in very specific applications. From a technical standpoint, that’s the only way a lubricant can provide the highest level of reliability and performance. Customers who want the best performance, protection, reliability and extended drain intervals choose AMSOIL for this key reason.

“Our company makes the best lubricants in the World, and challenges anyone or any company to prove us wrong! That won’t happen because our competitors know it’s true.”

A. J. Amatuzio, President and CEO AMSOIL Inc.

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