Christensen’s Oil Cleanliness Guidelines

  • Post published:June 23, 2021

Christensen's Oil Cleanliness Guidelines

At Christensen, we closely monitor and control the quality of our oil and lubricants, taking stringent care in it’s manufacturing, packing and transportation. This is to ensure that the products are free of contamination so they can meet and exceed their specifications. Still, once the lubricants and oils leave the care of Christensen, their continued quality may depend on the caliber of subsequent storage or handling procedures. Here is an introduction to Christensen lubricant and oil cleanliness guidelines, to ensure proper handling and safety protocols. With these, Christensen products can be kept in good, clean condition crucial for effective use. 

Proper Storage is Key

Ideally, oil and lubricants should be stored under cover. Temperature should be reasonably constant and moderate. But in practice, this may not be possible and the oil and lubricants may be stored at least partially outdoors. Nonetheless, whether under cover or outdoors, the storage should be onsite in order to provide:

  • Effective access to vehicles
  • Ample unloading room for vehicles
  • Properly equipped loading and unloading dock with direct access to oil store
  • Clean and dust-free conditions for unsealing and dispensing
  • Convenient distribution to main points of use
  • Simple inventory control allowing at-a-glance checks on the condition of oil and lubricant containers
  • Ample space for empty packages, drums and returnable containers
  • Even/level oil-resistant floor
  • Lockable storage
  • Appropriate ventilation
  • Separate designated and controlled areas for in-use and new stock
  • Stock control systems ensuring good stock rotation
  • Adequate temperature control
  • Storage units must not be connected to any drain, sewer or watercourse
  • Clear warning signage such as “No Smoking” and “Risk of Slippery Surface” warnings
  • Adequate bunds for additional protection

Additionally, emergency spill kits should be placed beside all storage units.

For Outdoor Storage

When shielded from temperature extremes and water, most oil and lubricants are unaffected by climatic conditions and can be stored outdoors for limited durations.

However, should temperatures below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit) be anticipated, lubricants that are sensitive to the effect of frost (such as water emulsions or water extendable fluids) must be provided with protection.

Products such as the following must never be stored in the open:

Refrigerator oils

Insulating oils

White and medicinal oils


Neat cutting oils containing fatty oils or compounds that can solidify and separate when cold

Additionally, package lubricants should be preferably opened and stored under cover. Contamination risk greatly increases when lubricants are decanted or dispensed outdoors. Likewise, condensation and water ingress are more likely when a drum is only partially full. 

Storing Drums, Packs and Pails

In the case of oil drums standing in the open, there is an increased risk of suffering temperature variations that subsequently cause variations in internal pressure. This causes “breathing” in which there are leaking seals, with moisture likely to be drawn in. Especially if the drum is standing bung-up as the top of the drum forms a rain trap.

Accumulated water on top of the drum can also cause rust and premature wear. 

Due to these reasons, drums should be stored tilted or on their side or bungs-down, taps below oil level. Bungs of tilted or horizontal drums must be at the 3 o’ clock and 9 o’ clock positions so that the gaskets stay in contact with the oil in the drum. Drums must always be stored off the ground on stillages or racks, well clear of surface water. And they must never stand directly on surfaces containing corrosive clinker. For packs holding more than 200L, storage in a bund is required.

Due to outdoor conditions, regular examinations must be made to check for signs of corrosion, obscuring of identification marks, and for signs of weakened seams or seals.

In the case of pails and other smaller packages, special care should be taken when storing them. These are not designed for severe weather. If outdoor storage cannot be avoided, they should be placed under the cover of stillages or protected from rain by durable tarps while ensuring free air circulation.

Storing oil and lubricant containers indoors is always preferable. But if space is limited, it should be reserved for small packages, lubricants affected by frost, or opened packages, and for categories listed earlier in the outdoor storage section. It is rare for indoor temperatures to drop low enough to affect lubricants adversely, however excessive local heat from steam pipes, furnaces and such should be avoided to prevent thermal degradation or volatilization of solvent containing grades. Often, insurance requirements or local fire regulations specify separate storage facilities for volatile products.

In the case that one area of the store is warm, this should be reserved for oils with high viscosity to make dispensing easier. Lubricant storage units must be kept dry at all times to prevent container corrosion that occurs in damp conditions.

Stacking Drums Properly

In the event that space is inadequate for storing drums on horizontal stillages, they may be vertically stacked on pallets or stored in horizontal or sloping racks. 

Whichever way they are arranged, individual packages must be easily accessible allowing for minimal disturbance to those that are not immediately required. There must be a system of stock rotation to avoid the accumulation of old stock. “First in, first out” is a sound principle to use.

When packages are freely stacked on top of one another, the safe height can vary according to the stability of the stack and the weight the lower packages can support. Due to this, the use of pallets or slatted frames is recommended to stabilize stacks and prevent damage to lower layers.

Steel racks provide greater convenience for loading, retrieval, inventory control and stack rotation. Sloping racks with one side for loading and the other lower side for retrieval is effective for ensuring “first in, first out” drum stock movement. 

Drum Handling Procedures

A standard 209L drum weighs around 185kg when filled with oil. Drums are strong, designed to be reused several times, but can be damaged by poor handling.

Drums should never be dropped when unloaded or moved. Impacts can bust seams, causing leaking or contamination of contents. Incorrect manual handling of drums can lead to accidents and injuries. When possible manual handling should be avoided and appropriate drum handling equipment should be utilized. 

While there are many appropriate ways to handle drums, the most acceptable ones are:

  • Forklift truck
  • Two-wheel hand truck
  • Triangular drum dolly
  • Manual elevator
  • Manual side-delivery stacker
  • Chain hoist and trolly on I-beam bridge
  • Rolling by two workers 

Bulk Storage Tanks

Bulk lubricant storage tanks should be inside the bund that is ideally sited indoors. They can be open if they are protected from driving rain and snow as well as temperature extremes.

Tanks, fill pipes and offtake pipes must all be labelled specifying capacity and full grade name of the product they contain in order to prevent crossovers during delivery or dispensing. Pipework has to be rust free and above ground when possible. Measuring devices should be properly calibrated and serviced. To prevent tampering hand wheels on valves and clocks should be lockable.

For mild steel tanks, special adaptation is required for certain types of products. Electrical and refrigerator oil tanks are usually lined with epoxy resin and their air vents are protected with silica-gel breathers to remove moisture. 

Likewise, white oils may require epoxy resin treated or stainless steel tanks to maintain quality and color.

Tanks without silica-gel breathers can gradually accumulate water due to atmospheric moisture condensation on cold tank walls, even when indoors. This water should be periodically drained. 

Oil and Lubricant Delivery Protocols

In all deliveries there should be supervision to ensure the off-loading or discharging of the correct quantity and grade of lubricant. For bulk lubricants, it is essential that the correct grades are stored in the right tank, so supervision and tankage labelling are also essential. Delivery tickets must be signed by customers to verify that correct grades and quantities have been received. 


Helping businesses with their fuel and lubricant supplies, logistics and handling processes is Christensen’s areas of expertise. Our solutions allow our partners to improve their operations and increase productivity, which in turn raises profitability and reduces overhead. One of the ways we ensure the quality of our products is through strict adherence to our oil cleanliness guidelines. These guidelines also serve as a benchmark in our site assessments, which when implemented can improve our partners’ oil and lubricant management protocols. 

Want to know how Christensen can improve your business’ lubrication and maintenance practices? Interested in our fuel and lubricant solutions? Reach out to Christensen today. We serve partners in and around the greater Pacific Northwest area.