Sewing machines, just like large factory machines, require oil to continue to function optimally. This cannot be just any oil, as some oils will cause a machine to gum up or otherwise not function properly. The main ingredient in sewing machine oil is a chemically-processed petroleum product, but there also are more environmentally friendly products that are nearly as effective for lubricating your sewing machine.
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Sewing machine oil is most often a mix of various petrochemicals. Petrochemicals are products that have been created from petroleum oil. This type of oil makes machines run the most effectively, but there are certain safety concerns to keep in mind as well. Mineral oil, one of the frequent examples of the petrochemicals, may cause irritation of the respiratory tract when the vapor is inhaled. One manufacturer of such oil, Albatross USA, recommends that you limit your exposure to the oil. For the safety reasons and a reliance on oil as a resource, some sewers stick to more natural oils for their sewing.
Natural substitutes that are typically used in environmentally-friendly sewing machine oils are jojoba, silicone and ester oils. These oils have been chosen because they have similar properties to petrochemical oil. They can resist heat and stress, but they do not have a harmful byproduct when their vapors are inhaled, according to jojoba oil supplier Purcell Jojoba. Creating the oil includes 1/3 cup of jojoba oil mixed with a tablespoon each of ester oil and silicon oil. Some machines do not work well with the homemade mixture, so it is best to test a drop of the oil mixture on the machine before fully applying.
Some sewers have tested out other natural oils on their machines, but they often have found that the wrong oil will damage or ruin their machines. These unsuitable oils include virgin coconut oil and olive oil. Household 3-in-1 oils have also been found to be ineffective.
One type of oil that has been found to be effective is bike lubricant. This oil, however, can contain some chemicals that the environmentally conscious might not be interested in. These ingredients include Teflon (also known as PTFE/polytetrafluorethylene), kerosene and paraffin. These chemicals may leak into the environment and cause harm to humans and other mammals.