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Bowling Lane Oil Useful Information Originally Posted: 8/6/2015; Updated: 5/3/2022

There is bowling lane oil useful information you may wish to learn about.

Knowing a little more about lane oil other than it makes your bowling ball slide can and will help you visualize targeting alignment and adjustments on oil patterns applied to the lanes by local bowling center maintenance crews.

Lane conditioning products utilize numerous additives, varying ranges in viscosity (thickness), different levels of surface tension (ability to hold up as balls pass through the oil over and over), and other components to hold up as long as possible before breaking down and avoiding exaggerated carry down.

Solvent based conditioners were developed and used during the rubber and plastic bowling ball era. Solvents added to the mineral oil base helped break down dirt on the lane surface and aid in the lane cleaning process.

Solid conditioners were simply a progression to having no solvents in the lane oil formulas.

Solid conditioners were developed during the urethane bowling ball era and technically can be used to define most lane conditioners in production today.

Mineral oil is the main substance used in today’s lane conditioners and accounts for about 98% of most formulas.

These high performance lane conditioners are necessary to hold up against the aggressive bowling ball coverstocks in the market today.

The ultimate goal of these products is to minimize change in ball reaction and maximize the oil application consistency.

There are also other additives found in lane oil such as friction modifiers and lubricity agents.

The term oil viscosity we hear in bowling circles refers to the measurement of the internal friction of oil as a fluid.

The greater the friction generated by the bowling ball and the lane surface, the greater amount of force is required to cause the movement of the lane oil.

Highly viscous oil fluids therefore, require more force to move than less viscous oil materials.

There is more resistance to the bowling ball when the oil viscosity is higher which causes the ball to slow down and hook a little bit earlier than will lower viscosity oils.

Lower viscosity oil is slicker than high viscosity oil but high viscosity is more durable.

Lower viscosity conditioners also tend to create more effective carry down.

In short, ideal lane oil should be slick, but not too slick because of spinning-ball calls.

Today’s oil products are durable, but some breakdown will occur for the lanes to open up. All liquid travels so, therefore, all lane oils carry down the lane.

Some lane oil conditioners use a tacky mineral oil so the ball reaction doesn't change much when oil is carried down.

It helps to understand some features lane oil provides such as carry down and breakdown.

Understanding some of the properties of lane oil conditioner and how it carries down and breaks down after many games of play will certainly go a long way in helping you make decisions when playing the lanes during competition.
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