5 Major Factors That Impact The Cost Of Coolant

There are a number of factors to consider when looking at the cost of coolant, but you can expect to pay between $5 and up to $40 per litre.

If you’re interested in what makes up the cost of coolant, in this article we’ll explain in more depth 5 major differences between coolants and why they drive the cost up or down.

1. How do the components of the coolant affect price?

Base Oil

When you’re looking at the cost of coolant, the characteristics of the base component (i.e. base oil) are going to drive it up or down.

The same goes for synthetic coolants, which uses polymers as it’s base. Not all synthetic coolants are created equal, and a coolant that uses high-quality polymers is going to cost more.

Put simply, you get what you pay for.

On top of this, the prices of base oil can be affected by international events (such as the Ukraine conflict), that cause supply issues, in turn driving prices up.

Additives

Coolant additives (to control foam, lubricity, bacteria, etc) are where the real cost of the coolant lies. All coolants have additives of some form, and since there can be up to 25 different additives in a coolant, it would be disingenuous to simply compare oil prices with coolant prices.

The difference between cheap coolants and expensive coolants is the safety of these additives. Because machinists and CNC operators are almost constantly exposed to coolant when operating machines, the quality of the additives can impact their health and well-being.

Cheaper coolants often use additives that are hazardous because they’re less expensive.

Cheaper additives are often hazardous

For example, chlorine is a lubricating additive that is very effective and cheap. A lot of companies use chlorine to provide extreme-pressure lubrication. In lower concentrations, we can drink chlorine in our tap water. However, chlorine has corrosive and irritative properties in higher concentrations, meaning it can cause reactions with skin – and it also makes coolants smell bad.

That’s why you commonly won’t find chlorine used by premium coolant suppliers. For example, we don’t include chlorine in any of our products other than XDP1400, which uses special chlorinated paraffins that provide extremely good lubrication on Aluminium. Chlorinated paraffin is not as harmful as normal chlorine.

Biocides are another important additive of coolants that impact price. Again, more expensive biocides are safer for human skin and interaction.

Premium suppliers don’t use toxic biocides like formaldehyde release or lauric acid but use other advanced biocides that aren’t harmful to humans and the environment.

Premium coolants don't use formaldehyde release and lauric acid

Lower cost coolants will likely have these toxic products, with a hazard symbol on the label.

Moreover, complex emulsifier additives (joining oil with water) also directly impact the price of coolant, especially due to the different emulsifiers required for different water hardness.

If your coolant separates frequently, chances are you’re using a cheaper coolant that doesn’t have quality emulsifiers.

2. What does metal compatibility have to do with the cost?

Metal compatibility will contribute to the cost of your coolant.

Less expensive additives are often metal-specific, meaning they might react with Aluminium or Brass. This means that you’ll be more limited with what you can machine if you opt for a metal-specific coolant.

On the other hand, premium coolant will be compatible with all metals. Especially when you’re machining higher grades of aluminium or brass, it’s important you don’t get staining or copper leaching, which means that you’re going to need a coolant that has more costly additives than less expensive alternatives.

3. Does the life of my coolant in the sump impact long-term cost?

This may sound basic, but the sump life of the coolant (how long coolant lasts before it needs to be replaced) is an important measure of how cost-effective your coolant really is. Whilst it may seem cheap on the shelf, if you have to replace it more frequently, chances are you’re paying more than you have to.

Coolants that have a higher initial cost (using premium oils and additives) may well have a longer sump life, meaning that over time, the cost is lower.

Longer sump life = lower overall cost

For example, Synthetic Coolants tend to have a longer life as they are more resistant to bacteria growth, meaning that they need to be replaced less often (e.g. every 24 months, not every 12 months).

On the other hand, coolants that have a lower initial cost are inclined to have a shorter sump life, resulting in a higher cost over time. For instance, Soluble coolants and Semi-synthetic coolants are made up of oil, which attracts more bacteria and decreases the life of the sump, meaning that it needs to be replaced more often.

4. What about tool life and efficiency?

The next thing to look at when considering the cost of coolant is the tool life and the efficiencies that can be gained.

If you have a higher performing coolant, with better lubrication properties, it means that you can improve your tool life. This means that you can a) improve your speeds and b) improve your output, which ultimately gives increased return on the machine, and on time for your machine shop.

Likewise, when you use a high quality synthetic product you’re going to have less drag-out (resulting in less consumption), meaning you’ll lose less coolant per piece. So although the coolant might be double the price initially, it could last doubly as long because not as much is being used.

On the other hand, if you have a cheaper coolant that does not have the same lubricating properties, you’re going to get decreased output and speed, which will impact your bottom line. Your coolant is also more likely to ‘burn out’ quickly, losing it’s lubrication properties over time.

5. How does service and backup impact the cost?

Finally, there’s a difference between coolant companies that simply sell out of a catalogue, and those that provide customised recommendations and long-term service and support.

Some suppliers are less expensive because they couldn’t care less about the end result. They are unwilling to take samples, test the concentration, provide recommendations with an issues that may arise, or provide any sort of back-up.

On the other hand, premium coolant suppliers are going to be more expensive because they take the time to assess your situation and provide coolant that is correct for your specific application. They aim to improve the sump life and performance of the coolant over time – and to do that comes at a cost. For example, our initial onboarding stage involves visiting your workshop, taking samples of your coolant, testing it in labs in Spain, then providing a recommendation with backup and support following that. Put simply, it’s time intensive, which is going to cost you more, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.

A lot of different factors impact the cost of coolant

Put simply, there are a lot of things that impact how much you’re going to pay for your coolant. But it’s important to consider these before you make your purchase.

And remember, you get what you pay for.


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