Lab Q&A: “Synthetic” Products

Question: What makes a product “synthetic”?

Answer: Synthetic is derived from the word synthesize, referring to a process that involves taking a set of raw materials and making a finished good. Typically, the process includes a series of chemical or manufacturing steps that produce a chemical compound with planned and predictable properties. These processes usually consist of more than the basic steps used in a refinery setting (e.g., distillation, hydro cracking).

When a specific type of synthetic base oil is produced, specific chemical reactions result in a consistent, predictable product. One way to think of a synthetic is “artificially made.”