The general mechanism of an air compressor is a piston or rotary component (e.g. rotary screw or vane) that allures air, which is compressed into a storage container. Naturally, since the piston or rotary element needs to move regularly and smoothly for this to function, it generally needs to be lubricated.

In a lubricated air compressor, there is lubricating oil which keeps the piston or rotary element running smoothly without damaging the system. The lubricant also really helps to dissipate high temperature and keep maintaining air compression efficiency.

Oil-free of charge air compressors also use a piston or rotary element, Water Lubricated Air Compressor however they get around the lubrication problem by coating the compression element with a pre-lubricating material like Teflon. Some oil-free compressors may also use water in place of essential oil for the lubricating and cooling procedure. These alternate materials guard the pump and invite the mechanism to move smoothly without the need for any oil-centered or synthetic lubrication.