detergents and blending your own "cleaning" oil?

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Jan 4, 2012
nh, usa
When manufacturers tout certain oil attributes one might be it's cleaning ability. I know there are obviously the seafoams and b52's other commercial products, as well as home made remedies like adding atf, etc. I am not looking for concoctions. Does anyone know what lubrication manufacturers add to oil when they specify one might contain additional detergents? what about how this additive concentration compares to other blends? Is it possible to cheaply purchase these specific proven additives and add them to your preferred oil when you want a long term cleaning action or special purpose concoction. I do not for example want to add atf to some mixes because it contains a high quantity of detergents while compromising other lubrication qualities, I want to go right to the source but have had a hard time really finding out just what is considered a detergent and at what quantities.
I'm not sure if detergents in oil clean, but rather keep particulate matter in suspension, and are more of a preventative thing.
While there is no short answer to your question; the most common type of detergents used are Calcium Sulphonates - more specifically overbased calcium sulphonates. There are also magnesium salts, phosphate esters and other chemical compounds that are used to manufacture and produce detergency in oil. The difficulty is knowing what concentration to include and how it will react with what is already in the oil. These things can be purchased from companies like Lubrizol, but typically not in quantities that are economical for average consumers. I would say that around a 30:1 ratio would be the maximum amount of detergent you would want to blend as it can throw off your balance in terms of the lubricity additives (AW/EP/FM components of the oil). Some Calcium Sulphonates can also double as antioxidants in the oil; and some phosphates - which perform lubricating actions can also double as detergents depending on what the reaction is inside your engine (example: phosphates reacting with the metal surfaces to form a lubricating film on the boundary surface vs reacting with combustive biproducts to neutralize carbon buildup - and therefore decrease sludge formation). There are companies that produce enhanced additive packages that include increased detergency that are balanced with lubricity and other performance additives. Finding one that is legitimate and readily available can be difficult. Many times you might think you found a good one but it turns out to be snake oil. Another route would be to look into additive blends that are used for designing custom oil blends can be purchased through Lubrizol, ExxonMobil Chemical and such companies - but again the odds of you finding it in economical quantities for what you are proposing (long term cleaning action or special purpose concoction) will be slim to none. Just curious - why the need for extra detergents? is there something specifically wrong with an engine you have?
Nothing specific to any one engine, I have many cars and small engines as well as a knack for collecting things that run on gas, none of which new. My garage seems to form it's own gravity pulling my friends in as well. My thought process was to get back to the roots, instead of trying to invent something new or adding an inappropriate package to the mix on top why not attempt to get the right ingredients and add more of what is already supposed to be there. I have no specific need at the moment this has just been something in the back of my head I wanted to throw out there. From your post Solarent it unfortunately sounds a lot like it may be out of reach to dabble in for myself on a personal level.
I would use off-the-shelf Pennzoil Platinum or mix PP 50/50 with an older spec oil for first time cleaning, and not try to become your own chemist. For information purposes on commonly used additives, see POST 530330 at An alternative is to use LC20 in the mix, with about 10% LC20 to 90% PCMO for first time cleaning. Otherwise, use PP with frequent oil changes until the borescope shows clean nooks and crannies.
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I'm glad you edited and included the link MolaKule; I agree that sticking to a known oil with higher detergent for the purposes of cleaning when/if it is needed is probably the safest way to go. That additive list is very comprehensive. Thanks!
Originally Posted By: tig1
Try M1 HM oils. It is working in my sons 97 Expedition 4.6.
+1 Using it right now. Put out a P1349 and stopped the ticking on a corolla. On the Camry, stopped a bad oil consumption problem. For both, most of the varnish and sludge melted away in one OC. Very happy with the results, half the neighborhood using it now after seeing my results, all are happy. I spent so much money on placebos over the years, wish I knew all i needed was the right oil.
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