Get The Smell Out - Extend Coolant Life

Get The Smell Out - Extend Coolant Life

If you’ve worked in a machine shop or metalworking facility for any length of time, you have no doubt encountered a variety of unpleasant odors. Perhaps you’ve noticed that “rotten egg” or “Monday morning” smell (bacteria) when metalworking coolants are allowed to “rest” over the weekend, usually under a blanket of surface tramp oil. Regardless of any situations, your nose is alerting you to the serious problem of microbiological growth in your water-based metalworking fluids. Bacteria grow in coolant sumps, producing a nasty smell and biomass that can clog filters and screens. In other cases, sulfur odors from unchecked bacterial growth have gotten so bad that plant and office personnel have refused to work. Obviously, when things get to this point, there will be considerable expense and inconvenience to remedy the situation.

Change to a different brand and the problem will be solve, is that correct? Perhaps, not is. Even the best coolants will eventually succumb to microbiological attack if they are not properly maintained. Good coolant maintenance begins with consistent concentration control. Most coolants are formulated to produce an alkaline, high-pH environment that inhibits microbiological growth. Some contain biocides designed to kill micro-organisms.

Neither of these fluid defenses will function effectively if the additive ingredients are not present in the proper proportions. Failure to check and adjust coolant concentration at least daily is one sure way to start growing “bugs.” Check the fluid pH with test strips on a weekly basis. For most coolants, pH values below 8.5 indicate developing microbiological issues.

The next step is to use a good sump cleaner to flush the reservoir during change outs. This will ensure that any remaining bacteria, biomass, and tramp oil are properly dealt with before the new coolant is installed. During service outages, inspect the reservoir and conveyor channels for the presence of biomass. In the worst cases, these may have to be physically removed.

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