Does Oil Conduct Electricity: 9 Important Facts

Oil is a natural viscous substance which is obtained from plants,animals and minerals. Let us discuss whether oil conducts electricity or not.

Oil does not conduct electricity. Charge carriers that carry current are absent in oil. This makes oil incapable of conducting electricity. Oil is a mixture of long hydrocarbon chains that does not allow ionic compounds to get dissolved in it. This in turn curbs the possibility of ionization.

As ionization does not take place in oil, there are no ions present in it. No ions are similar to no current flow. Let us have a look at whether oil is treated as an insulator or a conductor and what types of oil can conduct electricity in this article.

Is oil an insulator or a conductor?

Conductors allow electricity to pass through them and insulators are those materials which resist the flow of electric current. Let us focus on oil regarding this.

Oil,a nonpolar chemical substance, is basically an insulator. Only immobile and strongly bound electrons are present in oil atoms. These electrons do not move from one atom to another which in turn are unable to carry electricity. These help oil acting like an insulator.

Besides oil does not allow ionization of metallic salts in it which also stops the possibility of conduction of current in oil.

What types of oil conduct electricity?

Conduction of electricity through a medium is possible when it permits the charge carriers to flow through it. Let us talk about oil in this matter.

Vegetable oil is a type of oil that allows current to flow through it. If ionic salts are added into vegetable oil they will be divided into positive and negative  electrolytes when voltage is supplied. These electrolytes will carry electricity.

In spite of having higher resistance value, vegetable oil conducts electricity.

How does oil conduct electricity?

Oil is a sticky and less dense fluid by nature. Let us focus on how current is passed through oil.

  • Oil conducts electricity by ionizing salts or impurities that are present in it.
  • Salts or impurities are metallic compounds that usually are separated into electrolytes.
  • If the two terminals of a battery are connected to the oil medium then these electrolytes will move in a definite direction according to the terminals.

Why does oil conduct electricity?

Oil is a pure insulator but sometimes it acts as a conductor. Let us focus on the reason behind it.

Oil conducts electricity due to the presence of polar compounds in it. Polar compounds ionize in the oil medium and carry current. Other than this some types of oils(vegetable oils,crude oils etc)  do have finite values of electrical conductivities that make them little conductive in nature.

In case of vegetable oils conduction of electric current depends upon the temperature. When temperature increases the value of electrical conductivity increases exponentially.

Why oils are poor electric conductor?

Poor electrical conductors are those substances that don’t permit electric current to flow through them. Let us go through whether oil conducts electricity poorly or not.

Oils are poor electrical conductors. The reason is the bound electrons that are present in oil. There is no movement of these bound electrons in oil. In any conductor this movement of electrons is termed as current flow but it is absent in oil.

Other than the above reason the electrical conductivities of oils are very low(in the range of nano siemens per meter). That is why oil is not capable of current conduction.

When does oil not conduct electricity and why?

A substance does not conduct electricity when its insulating properties are more prone that its conducting properties. Let us have a look at oil regarding this matter.

Oil does not conduct electricity when it is perfectly pure in nature and no impure salts are added into it. This occurs because of the non polar nature of the oil and the absence of movable charge carriers that can carry electric current.

Does oil conduct electricity when dissolved in water?

Oil is less conductive in nature. Let us focus on whether it can conduct electricity when dissolved in water or not.

Oil does not conduct electricity when dissolved in water. The reason is pure water is also an insulator by nature and it does not allow flow of current. Apart from this if there is presence of bases,salts in water then only oil will conduct electricity being dissolved in water.

Electricity conduction of oil when dissolved in water also depends upon the factors like  temperature, viscosity etc.

Is oil a conductor of heat?

Good conductors of heat allow heat energy to flow through them very easily. Let us focus on whether oil can conduct heat energy or not.

Oils are good conductors of heat. Oils, especially crude oils or engine oils do have high values of thermal conductivities. Heat conduction of a substance is entirely diced by their values of thermal conductivities. Due to the higher values of thermal conductivities oils conduct heat swiftly.


Oils do possess insulating properties but sometimes they conduct electricity too. All the facts related to the current and heat conduction of oils are discussed in this article in a brief manner.

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