American Made Oil Skimmers

Tube vs. Belt: Choosing the Right Oil Skimmer for Your Needs

Keeping your industrial fluids clean and oil-free is essential for efficient operation and environmental compliance. But with so many oil skimmer options available, choosing the right one can feel overwhelming.

Two popular oil skimmer choices are tube and belt skimmers, each offering distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Understanding the Types of Oil Skimmers:

Tube Skimmers: These low-profile skimmers work effectively for shallow tanks and tight spaces. Their tube flexibility allows them to navigate obstacles and conform to irregular tank shapes. They are also gentle on liquids, minimizing water pickup and oil emulsification. However, their removal rates are typically lower, and their initial cost tends to be higher.

Belt Skimmers: These are designed for high-volume tramp oil removal and excel at removing large amounts of oil. They are durable and easy to operate, making them a popular choice for industrial applications. However, their higher profile may limit their suitability for shallow tanks or tight spaces. Additionally, they are more susceptible to debris and require more frequent cleaning and maintenance than tube skimmers. The skimming rate can be affected by the size of the belt width. Standard sizes are 1-inch or 2-inch wide belts.

Choosing the Best Option:

The choice between a tube skimmer and a belt skimmer depends on several factors, including:

Type of oil: Different oils have varying properties that can affect skimmer performance. Consult the manufacturer for recommendations based on your specific oil type.

Tank size and shape: Consider the dimensions and shape of your tank to determine the appropriate skimmer size and type.

Ease of installation and maintenance: Choose a skimmer that aligns with your technical resources and maintenance capabilities.

Tube Oil Skimmer


  • Accessibility: A tube skimmer's greatest strength is reaching tight spaces. The flexible tube can bend and snake around equipment, removing oil from areas that would be difficult or impossible for disc or belt skimmers to reach.
  • Versatility: Tube skimmers can be easily moved from one machine sump to another, making them ideal for facilities that have multiple pieces of equipment requiring tramp oil removal.
  • Simplicity: They are relatively simple devices with minimal moving parts, resulting in lower maintenance requirements compared to more complex systems


  • Lower removal rates: Typically removes less oil per hour compared to a belt skimmer or a disk skimmer. Also, they are not effective on really deep sumps.

Belt Oil Skimmer


  • Efficiency: Belt skimmers continuously remove tramp oil from the surface of the liquid as the belt rotates. This can be more efficient than other methods that require manual intervention or rely on oil collecting on the surface over time.
  • Ease of Use: They are generally simple to operate and require minimal maintenance. The belt can be easily replaced when needed
  • Durability: The belt and pulley system is built to withstand industrial environments and can handle a steady flow of tramp oil. The units can be fitted with stainless steel belts in high-temperature tramp oil removal applications.
  • Cost-effective: Belt skimmers are a relatively inexpensive solution for tramp oil removal, especially compared to more advanced systems.


  • They may be less effective in applications with heavy oil loads or emulsions.
  • Belt skimmers work best in larger tanks with sufficient surface area for the belt to operate efficiently.
  • Some users report issues with belt slippage or oil not being completely removed from the belt, requiring adjustments or maintenance.

Additional Considerations:

  • Flow rate: Ensure the chosen skimmer has a flow rate compatible with your application's oil generation rate.
  • Safety features: Look for features like automatic shut-off and overflow protection for enhanced safety.

Making an Informed Decision:

By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each type of skimmer and considering your specific needs, you can make an informed decision that optimizes your oil removal process.

Don't hesitate to consult with industry experts like Zebra Skimmers for personalized recommendations based on your unique situation.

Remember, the right skimmer can significantly improve your industrial operations while protecting the environment and reducing coolant usage.


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: