What is the Difference Between Lithium & Calcium Grease

Bisley InternationalFAQs

Since not all grease applications are the same, finding a suitable one for the job can be daunting. Standard grease options are calcium and lithium grease. To select the best one for your industrial application, you need to understand how each works, the features required for optimum performance and your machinery’s inherent issues.

Let’s look at the characteristics that differentiate lithium complex grease from calcium complex grease.

Shear Stability

Shear stability or mechanical stability is a product’s resistance to viscosity change. Grease must maintain consistency for as long as possible to produce the desired results. An excellent way to understand the difference between the shear stability of lithium grease and calcium sulfonate grease is by analyzing samples using the ASTM D217 test.

A stable grease thins out slowly when exposed to high shear conditions. The ASTM D217 test shows calcium sulfonate has higher shear stability than lithium grease since it holds up for a long time under high pressure.

High-temperature Characteristics

When comparing the two grease types’ temperature characteristics, we use dropping point and temperature life tests. The dropping point is the temperature required for grease to transition from a semi-solid state to a liquid.

The dropping point test indicates that calcium sulfonate performs better since it drops at 315 degrees while lithium complex greases drop at 260 degrees. The difference makes calcium sulfonate the most preferred option in industrial applications.

Oxidative Resistance

Grease oxidation increases with every temperature increase between 93 degrees to 120 degrees. Most applications require higher temperatures than this. If the grease can’t counter the oxidation, it hardens, losing its anti-wear properties. Calcium sulfonate greases take longer to oxidize compared to lithium complex greases.


When heavy oils are mixed with soap, the product is a clingy and stingy solid or semisolid lubricant known as grease. However, not all soaps (acid+base) are compatible. Therefore, it is essential to understand this when applying grease to bearings or moving parts that have been greased before. Incompatible grease mixing can result in motor bearing failures.

Both lithium and calcium greases are compatible with each other and other standard grease lubricants. Calcium sulfonate greases are incompatible with bentonite clay grease, polyurea-based grease, and calcium complex grease.

Which type of grease is better?

The comparison shows that calcium sulfonate grease performs better than lithium grease in terms of oxidation resistance, dropping point, and mechanical stability. Over-based calcium sulfonate is used as an emulsifier, rust inhibitor, and thickener. The shortage of lithium also makes lithium complex greases more expensive to produce.

Shop Quality Calcium Sulfonate Greases Today

Whether you need grease for diesel, marine, metalworking, automotive, or railroad lubrication, Bisley International has what you need. We supply several grades of calcium sulfonate like 300TBN and 400TBN. We’re also committed to achieving customer satisfaction, so we offer customizable specifications. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you create the desired products.

Check out our range of Raw Materials under Grease & Lubricants.