Oil Skimmer Blog

5 Factors You Need to Know When Sizing an Oil Skimmer

Posted by Tom Hobson on Jan 16, 2018 4:33:22 PM

Choosing an oil skimmer best suited for your application will maximize oil removal while minimizing initial outlay and oil skimming operation costs.

How much skimmer capacity do you need

Capacity should be based on the maximum amount of oil to be removed within the shortest available time. For instance, total oil influx may be 200 gallons in a 24-hour period, which averages about 8.3 gallons per hour. But if most of it comes during a single eight-hour plant shift, you will probably need a removal rate that is three times as high, especially if you are trying to prevent an unwanted discharge of contaminated water to a sewer system. As a rule-of-thumb, specify approximately twice the maximum capacity you anticipate needing for normal conditions.

What do the capacity ratings mean?
Oil skimmers usually have an oil removal rate expressed in gallons per hour. The rate varies with oil viscosity, so Abanaki rates skimmers using SAE 30 weight motor oil at 65°F (18°C). It is very important to ask the manufacturer what they are basing their capacities on and get an exact SAE weight or viscosity.  Beware of generalities like ‘a medium-weight oil.’

Will there be water in the skimmed oil?
All oil skimmers pick up some water with the oil they remove. Some designs, particularly suction skimmers, pick up more water than others. High water content increases oil recycling and disposal costs. Generally, the ratio of water-to-oil decreases with thicker films of floating oil and slower moving pick-up media. An Oil Concentrator® or decanter installed at the oil skimmer discharge port provides secondary oil/ water separation that can reduce water content to nearly zero.

How much oil will be left in the tank?
An oil skimmer continues to remove oils as long as there are oils present. Depending on oil influx rate and the oil skimmer's removal rate, residual oil in the water may be as low as a few parts per million. When residual oil reaches this level and further reduction is required, it may be more practical to use a secondary removal method following skimming, such as membrane filtration.


What do I sacrifice if I choose a portable oil skimmer?
Oil skimmer portability is a plus in some applications. For example, in plants, mobile equipment service shops, and at remediation sites, a portable oil skimmer can sometimes service multiple machines, sumps, or wells. Portable units usually have a lower removal capacity than stationary units.  Also, when you move an oil skimmer it can be dripping water or oil when you remove it, so having a few rags on hand is a good idea.

If you need any help choosing the right oil skimmer, our experts are ready to help.  Give us a call at (440)543-7400 to learn more about choosing the oil skimmer best-suited for your application, or just click below.

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Topics: coolant, belt selection guide, oil skimmer, tank, capacity ratings

3 Tank Characteristics to consider in Choosing Oil Skimmers

Posted by Tom Hobson on Nov 21, 2017 8:52:36 AM

Choosing an oil skimmer best suited for your application will maximize oil removal while minimizing capital and operational costs. The impoundment capacity, shape, and location of a tank and water impoundment are major factors in choosing the right oil skimmer to lower your costs.


  1. Size/Design:
    It is critical that oil in the water is given the opportunity to separate. Oil and water can emulsify when subjected to turbulence and other mechanical agitation. Avoid this by having water return to the tank below the liquid surface at as low a velocity as practical. Make sure your tank or sump provides quiet areas, weirs, and sufficient volume to allow adequate time for oil/water separation.
  2. Shape:
    Tanks without nooks and crannies for oil to get stuck in are best. If you have an irregular shape, put the oil skimmer where the largest amount of oil accumulates. Consider a means of directing oil towards the oil skimmer such as a floating boom or baffle plate.
  3. Location/Installation:
    The physical location and characteristics of the tank and collection container are important and it is vital to ask the right questions such as:
    • Does skimmed oil need to be pumped from the oil skimmer to the container?
    • Will oil skimmer access for periodic maintenance be a problem?
    • How much mounting space is available?
    • Are tank or container modifications required?

If you need any help choosing the right to put a skimmer, our experts are ready to help.  Give us a call at 1-440543-7400 or to learn more about which skimmers work better in specific tanks or sumps, click below.

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Topics: coolant, belt selection guide, oil skimmer belt, belt materials, oil skimmer, tank

Oil Skimming Myths Exposed! Get the Facts and Real Tips!

Posted by Tom Hobson on Sep 22, 2017 8:33:17 AM


Oil skimming makes use of the differences in specific gravity and surface tension between oil and water. These physical characteristics allow the belt to attract grease, oil, and other hydrocarbon liquids from the far side of the tank.

Oil Skimming Tip:

When selecting an oil skimmer, be sure to place the skimmer where oil is already gathering.  This will ensure the quickest removal of the oil.


Belt oil skimmers and oil skimming will collect all types of oil including all free-floating oils, LNAPLS, DNAPLS, and some emulsified oils. The various belt materials  allow for any type of hydrocarbon removal.

Oil Skimming Tip:

There are several things to consider when choosing a belt for your oil skimmer. For example, some plastics won’t stand up to heat or strong chemicals, some metal belts won’t skim well from coolants due to rust inhibitors being present and certain plastic belts don’t last in heated applications. It is very important to choose a good oil skimmer vendor that offers a wide variety of belts to handle any situation.   Equally important is to inform them of the details of your application so they can provide assistance in choosing the proper belt material at the start.


Get  the Abanaki Interactive Oil Skimming Selection Guide to find the right skimmer for you.

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Topics: coolant, belt selection guide, oil skimmer belt, belt materials, oil skimmer

17 Common Questions of Oil Skimmers! Answers from the Experts | Abanaki

Posted by Tom Hobson on Feb 20, 2017 8:30:00 AM

Do you have questions about oil skimming? Abanaki experts share their answers about the oil skimming process and the method for choosing the right oil skimmer for an application. We put the 17 most common questions and answers into this handy guide so you can solve your oil skimming problems. Click to learn the answers to these questions.

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Topics: belt selection guide, solutions sourcebook, oil skimming, common questions about oil skimmers

Your Belt and You: Choosing the Right Material

Posted by Tom Hobson on Apr 11, 2016 3:00:00 PM

A belt is to a skimmer like wheels to a car’s chassis: although the latter is the most identifiable part, it needs the former to actually run. Just like tires, belts are not one size fits all. Just as there are snow tires, street tires, year-round tires, and more, so too are there a variety of belt materials. So what purpose does each serve?

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Topics: belt selection guide, oil skimmer belt, belt materials, oil skimmer, belt material

New Oil Skimmer Belt Selection Guide

Posted by Tom Hobson on May 21, 2014 4:47:21 AM
Click here to watch our free Oil Skimming 102 Video webinar. This online video shows you how to properly select and size a skimmer for your application.
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Topics: belt selection guide, oil skimmer belt, oil skimming, oil skimmer

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