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Understanding the Importance of Choosing the Right Oil Skimmer

Ensuring efficient and effective oil removal from industrial fluids is crucial in manufacturing. An oil skimmer plays a vital role in this regard, as it helps remove oil contaminants from water or machine coolants, promoting clean and sustainable operations.

However, with various options available in the market, selecting the right oil skimmer can take time and effort. This blog post will guide you through the key factors to consider when choosing an oil skimmer for your manufacturing needs.

Types of Oil Skimmers: Exploring the Various Options Available in Manufacturing


Oil skimmers each have unique skimming capabilities. Understanding their strengths and weaknesses will aid you in making and choosing the right one.

Here's a closer look at three common types:

1. Tube Oil Skimmer: Tube skimmers use a continuous loop of tubing that dips into the fluid, attracts oil due to its oleophilic (oil-loving) surface, and carries it away for collection.


  • Highly efficient: They can remove oil at a rapid rate, ideal for large tanks.
  • Versatile: Work well with various oil types and viscosities.
  • Minimal space requirements: No bulky components protrude into the tank.


  • Limited depth: Not suited for deep tanks or situations with submerged obstacles.
  • Prone to clogging: Debris can block the tube, requiring regular cleaning.
  • Installation considerations: Tube path and mounting points need careful planning.

2. Belt Oil Skimmer: Picture a conveyor belt for oil. Belt skimmers use an endless belt coated with an oleophilic material that continuously rotates through the liquid, capturing oil and carrying it to a discharge point.


  • Compact and adaptable: Ideal for confined spaces or shallow tanks.
  • Handles diverse conditions: Can manage thick oils, emulsions, and even some debris.
  • Easy to install and maintain: Simple design and readily accessible components.


  • Belt wear and tear: Requires regular inspection and belt replacement.
  • Temperature limitations: Some materials may not withstand high temperatures.

3. Disk Oil Skimmer: Think of a spinning oil magnet. Disk skimmers utilize a rotating disk coated with oleophilic material that dips into the liquid, attracting and scraping off oil onto a collection container.


  • Excellent for emulsions: Effective at separating oil from water and coolant mixtures.
  • Durable and reliable: Simple design with minimal moving parts.
  • Easy to clean and maintain: Readily accessible components for quick service.


  • Depth limitations: Not suitable for deep tanks.

Remember, the ideal skimmer is the perfect superhero for your oil-removal challenge. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each type, along with your unique application needs, will guide you toward making the most informed and practical choice.

Key Factors to Consider in Selecting an Oil Skimmer for Your Industrial Needs

Choosing the right oil skimmer for your industrial operation requires more than skimming the surface. Here's a deeper dive into the key factors to consider:

1. Understanding Your Needs:

  • Operational Size: Are you a small machine shop or a large-scale refinery? More extensive operations require greater removal capacity and broader coverage.
  • Oil Type & Volume: What type of oil are you dealing with? Light oils like machine coolant or heavy viscous oils like bunker fuel? Know the volume and frequency of oil contamination.
  • Operating Environment: Is it an open tank outdoors, a covered sump indoors, or a turbulent production line? Consider temperature, pH levels, presence of chemicals, and potential for emulsification.
  • Desired Efficiency: How quickly and thoroughly do you need the oil removed? Set realistic removal rate expectations based on your specific workflow.

2. Skimmer Options & Suitability:

  • Type of Skimmer: Belt, disc, tube, or something else? Each type has advantages and limitations for different applications. Match the skimmer's capabilities to your needs.
  • Material Compatibility: Will the skimmer's components withstand your environment's specific oil type, chemicals, and temperature range?
  • Coverage & Deployment: Can the skimmer reach all your target areas? Consider fixed vs. portable options, lengths, and mounting configurations.
  • Capacity & Flow Rate: Does the skimmer have the capacity to handle your expected oil volume and removal rate efficiently?

3. Beyond the Skimmer Itself:

  • Maintenance Requirements: How often does the skimmer need cleaning and parts replacement? Factors include ease of access, cost of spare parts, and potential downtime for maintenance.
  • Installation & Integration: Can the skimmer be easily installed into your existing infrastructure or machines?
  • Compatibility with Existing Systems: Can the skimmer's discharge system integrate seamlessly with your existing oil collection or recycling systems?
  • Power Source & Consumption: Consider energy efficiency and available power sources.


Additional Tips:

  • Seek Expert Advice: Don't hesitate to consult with oil skimmer manufacturers like Zebra Skimmers or industry professionals to get guidance based on your specific application.
  • Budget & Return on Investment: While cost is essential, remember the long-term benefits of efficient oil removal, such as reduced disposal costs, environmental compliance, and improved operational efficiency.

By carefully considering these key factors, you can choose the optimal oil skimmer for your industrial needs, ensuring smooth operation, efficient oil removal, and a return on investment.

Remember, the perfect skimmer is the one that seamlessly integrates into your workflow, effectively tackles your oil challenges, and contributes to a smooth and efficient industrial operation.


About Zebra Skimmers:

Our mission has always been simple. It is to provide the metal working industry with the oil skimmers and metalworking fluid management systems they need to complete jobs quickly and efficiently. Innovative and affordable solutions have gained us many accolades. Our continued growth is due in no small part to our excellent customer service… Not to mention our satisfaction guarantees and the performance of our tools.

Among our diverse options of oil skimmers and metal working fluid management systems, you can expect to find: