"We recently discovered a product that promises to reduce heat and friction between moving metal component parts without changing the tolerance of the parts. This particular anti-friction metal conditioner claims to save energy, reduce operational costs, increase power and torque, lower operating temperatures, decrease wear and downtime, and provide easier cold-weather operation.

Of course, we know this could all just be marketing hype, but the technology behind the product sounded different than some of the other similar types of metal conditioners on the market. It is new, so there are very few unbiased reviews of the product available, which made us a little hesitant to use it. Would you recommend the use of these types of anti-friction metal conditioners? Why or why not?"

Using "metal conditioners" generally is not recommended. This is because most of these types of products are derived from a chlorinated compound. The chlorine in these compounds is very reactive with a metal surface and will immediately corrode it. The corrosion byproducts and oxides then become a sacrificial friction barrier. This barrier does have a lubricating property, as it is sloughed off to expose fresh material.

Over time, as this cycle is repeated and the freshly exposed material reacts with the additive suspended in the oil, there can be substantial wear (both chemical and mechanical) to the components. The long-term effects of the corrosive chlorine far outweigh any short-term benefit from this sacrificial barrier.

Not only does the chlorine attack the metal surfaces within the machine, but it also wreaks havoc on the lubricant. One of the greatest dangers in using a chlorinated compound in a lubricant stems from its acid-forming ability when moisture is introduced. When formulating a balanced lubricant, you can account for this with formulations that contain detergents, antioxidants and acid neutralizers, but when you are just adding it from a bottle off the shelf, the balance is lost. The result will be hydrochloric acid formation that corrodes metallic mechanical components very quickly.

You would be much better off using a good quality, properly formulated and balanced lubricant from the start. One of the first steps in accomplishing this is to make sure the lubricant has the proper viscosity and load-carrying capabilities. Remember, it is better to have your equipment operating under a full hydrodynamic fluid film than having to rely on a friction barrier under boundary conditions.