Electronics > Beginners

Good, low-odor, non-toxic oils for tools

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I currently use 3-oin-one oil to lubricate and protect my tools as that's all I have. It seems to work fine, however I don't like the smell and it's toxic (according to the label). I used to apply the oil while wearing nitrile gloves, but those are harder to come by these days and the prices are jacked up, so I've been using my bare hands.

I'd like to get an inexpensive alternative that lacks odor (or has very little smell) that is also non-toxic and won't ruin any of the electronics that my tools come into contact with. Granted, I don't drench the tools in oil, I just wipe them down after use with a little oil and a rag, but I'd prefer not to slowly poison myself or damage things. I also moved to the southern USA recently and it is very humid here, so applying the oil frequently seems wise.

I read a bunch of posts on here and some people suggested using gun oil, motor oil, Ballistol and others. Some were in spray cans which won't work for me, and many seemed to have strong smells as per reviewers (particularly the gun oils). I have to use this indoors and would prefer something I can apply manually instead of spraying. It would be best if it comes in a container and I can pour some of it into a smaller container to apply. I don't have much experience with oils for tools so I'm open to your suggestions based on experience.

Some of the gun oil bottles with needle tips looked perfect for application, so I might grab one of those to help get into tight nooks.

Also, is there a good machine grease that comes in small amounts for long-term lubrication, like the thread/rods on a vise? I guess I could apply the same oil I do to the tools in friendlier amounts for such things, but that oil tends to be thin and may drip out.

Sewing machine oil. It's odour free, non staining and is a decent quality synthetic oil.

A good, cheap, easily found, source of high purity, low toxicity, odour free, mineral oil is ... baby oil.

Just double check the back of the label before buying it. Once upon a time all baby oil was mineral oil, nowadays you get some brands that are vegetable oil based and that's a no-no as eventually it will oxidise and polymerise or exhibit rancidity. And obviously you want an unperfumed variety (which most are) unless you want your toolbox to smell like a maternity ward.


You can buy very pure mineral oil in all US pharmacies, for next to no money.

I know you don't like sprays, but hey, maybe one day you will find a use for this - a product I can highly recommend from personal experience:  https://www.amsoil.com/p/mp-metal-protector-amp/   When the solvent evaporates, it leaves a dry, waxy kind of thin film on tools and other metal objects that lubricates and protects them from rust.  So your stuff doesn't feel so oily/greasy, yet it is protected.  Works great for protecting stuff under the hood, on motorcycles, bicycles, garden tools, etc. etc.

I use TriFlow regularly for oiling my 3D printer and sewing machines. Many vintage sewing machine repairpersons swear by it. 3-in-1 tends to gum up with age, TriFlow can help break it down. I don't know about toxicity, though, and it does have an odor that you might find unpleasant.

As a grease I'm a big fan of SuperLube Multi-Purpose Synthetic Grease with Syncolon (PTFE) which is available in a tube at most hardware stores, even Harbor Freight. It's actually NSF-approved as food-safe.


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