Insider tips about the most essential product used to keep your machine running smoothly.

If you’re involved in operating machine tools, then you know the importance of metalworking fluids (MWFs). And yet, even though it’s a regularly used, familiar product, it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. In fact, there are several nuances to consider when choosing the right MWF for your machines, tools and materials.

We challenged Aaron Wright, director of commercial development, and Eric Hefner, senior technical service chemist, both from Master Chemical Corp., a leading metalworking fluid manufacturer based in Perrysburg, Ohio, to reveal eight facts about metalworking fluids that we didn’t already know. 

1. All MWFs are NOT the same.

Metalworking fluids can differ substantially, particularly when it comes to quality, says Wright. It’s important for users to know that higher-quality MWFs can extend the life of machined parts, boost the effectiveness of their tooling and reduce scrap in the long run. Plus, higher-quality MWFs will last longer, decreasing the amount you’ll need to use over time.

2. There’s more to consider than cost.

Focusing exclusively on the price per gallon could be a costly mistake. To determine whether an MWF is truly a good value, users should consider factors such as how long a metalworking fluid will last in the sump and whether it will shorten tool life and increase machine downtime compared with more expensive alternatives.

3. Replacing MWFs could lead to other changes.

Changing out your metalworking fluid can be an opportunity to look at other parameters as well. If you’ve switched to a higher-performance fluid, for example, you may be able to increase your speeds and feeds, boosting the rates at which you can turn out parts at the required standards of excellence.

4. MWFs need special attention.

Some people think they can evaluate the condition of MWFs just by the smell or feel of the fluids. Wrong! You need to test the product to make sure it’s in an optimal state. If you don’t, it can lead to problems like tool corrosion or, even worse, skin conditions for anyone who comes in contact with the fluids. On the other hand, some companies have a whole team dedicated just to coolant management, which involves monitoring and testing the fluid and making adjustments when necessary.

5. Your MWF may not comply with the latest regulations.

Right behind the food and drug industry, the specialty chemicals business is probably the second most regulated in the world. However, regulations change all the time, so it’s important to stay connected to what’s happening in the industry to remain in compliance.

6. MWFs change (for the worse) while in use.

Metalworking fluids may be biodegradable while in their most pristine form. However, MWFs can quickly become contaminated during the machining process, both by the materials being machined and by exposure to machine-tool oils.

7. Local regulations govern MWF disposal.

Municipalities have jurisdiction over most MWF disposal issues. Metalworking companies are asked all the time about how to dispose of fluids. The answer is to contact your local treatment plant and find out what’s permissible. 

8. MWF isn’t just a maintenance item.

If you’re involved in machining, don’t make the mistake of relegating MWFs to secondary status; give respect where respect is due. These are critical components of any metal manufacturing operation and should be treated as such.

What’s your take? Talk to your peers in the community forum .

Key Takeaways

  • Choosing the best metalworking fluid can optimize your machining process.
  • Some metalworking shops have a whole team dedicated to coolant management.
  • Only government regulations can dictate how to properly dispose of MWFs.

What is your favorite MWF to use and why?

Talk to Us!

Tap Magic is my choice when cutting, drilling, or tapping. Very consistent, little goes a long way, biodegradable.


This was not helpful at all. Mostly just and ad for higher quality fluids. Zero technical info.

how about commenting on diff fluids, not use same one for all metals/speeds???


Trim E206 It doesn't leave a film on the parts. The parts dry quick and clean.


I am retired now, but I still have a small lathe and milling machine in the back yard shop. Needless to say, I still use my favorite cutting fluids, even if there is many new products on the market today. I have used Trim Tap heavy & light tapping fluids, Molly Dee is also a good tapping fluid I like for stainless steel use. I likes the Tap Magic when it used to smell really good, but those days are gone. I don't have the ability to used coolant at my backyard shop as I don't have many jobs that require machine work now. I use cutting oil from MSC by the gallon, as well as their way oil. Shipping and disposal of coolant has been a issue for many shops for a long time now. I appreciate your article here. R.Primm


This reads more like an ad to justify the cost of expensive cutting fluids than useful information.


Specific information such as recomended way to check PH, bacterial content, buildups of other toxic substances, would have been much more helpful.


There's 5 minute's of my day ill never get back. Hope someone wasn't paid to write that.


Years ago I was making tight tolerance parts on a Warner Swasey #4 and was using Valcool Turn-tech at 8% concentration. I ran out of coolant near the end of a large run--only needed a few hundred pieces to be able to deliver. Purchased a different brand of coolant locally and changed over. I tried everything over the next day and a half and could not get the machine to hold tolerance. Got the Valcool a few days later and put it in the machine. It immediately began to produce good parts again. Valcool is still the only coolant I use.


thanks for not providing any information, how about stocking so of the stuff in your catalogue


Nothing new here. No real information. Just a falsely advertised ad for higher priced products. I won't bother with the next ad from MSC




This was a completely useless article. Basically contained nothing. Read like a grocery store rag. We are technical people with technical minds. Don't treat us like dummies.


Thank you for your feedback.




Thank you for your feedback.


I have read the responses and in my opinion, MSC should have stated that these were very basic statements. Those who thought that this was a sales pitch probably have a better understanding of coolant.
If you think of coolant as a tool on your shop floor, and you run controlled tests you will see that properly maintained coolant can allow increased throughput and will increase tool life. If yo can get a 10% increase in tool life and your tooling budget is only $100,000, the savings will more than cover the coolant costs.
MSC is a valuable reasource for on-site training of coolant selection and management.


Thank you for your feedback Sal.


Thanks for explaining that using high-quality metalworking fluids can actually extend the life of our parts. I just talked with my neighbor this morning and learned he's looking for metalworking tools and equipment for his new shop in the next city over. I'll pass along this info so he can be sure to look for metalworking fluids while shopping as well!


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