Article originally published on Noria.com.
Varnish is the product of a chemical reaction within oil which leads to a new chemistry being created that is different from both the oil and its additives. A prevalent varnish begins as an acid, which is typically caused by a reaction of the oil’s additives as they become consumed or the base oil’s chemistry as it is degrading. It may also result from a reaction of the oil with other chemistries, which may be present as contaminants within the oil or the system. As with other lubricant-related properties or associated machine conditions, condition-monitoring techniques can be used to assess the accumulation of varnish within oil and manage the detrimental effects that follow.
The consequences of accumulated varnish can include power de-rating and damage to the operating equipment. When observed problems begin to occur, the concentration of varnish within the oil or system can vary greatly. Factors such as system design, variations in the system operating temperature and fluctuations in the system operating conditions all affect varnish formation.
The choice of oil also impacts the rate of varnish generation and accumulation, as some oils are more prone to varnish drop-out than others.