We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Drilling Mud?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
AboutMechanics is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At AboutMechanics, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Drilling mud, also known as drilling fluid, is a product used in the process of drilling deep boreholes. These holes may be drilled for oil and gas extraction, core sampling, and a wide variety of other reasons. The mud can be an integral part of the drilling process, serving a number of functions.

One of the most critical roles of this mud is as a lubricant. Drilling generates tremendous friction, which can damage the drill or the formation being drilled. Drilling mud cuts down on the friction, lowering the heat of drilling and reducing the risk of friction-related complications. The mud also acts as a carrier for the materials being drilled, with material becoming suspended in the mud and then being carried up the drill to the surface.

Using this substance protects the stability of a borehole by controlling variables such as friction and pressure. Different muds are needed for different circumstances, and the selection and formulation of mud is managed by a mud engineer. This engineer determines the correct viscosity level for the mud, and adjusts factors such as its density as well. Water, oil, and gas-based muds can all be used, with products ranging from true mud made with materials like bentonite clays to synthetic drilling fluid.

Drilling mud is recirculated throughout the drilling process. As it rises to the surface, it passes through screens that trap the materials from the borehole, before being cycled back into the system that delivers mud to the head of the drill bit. This recirculation process is designed to cut down on waste by reusing as much mud as possible. Depending on the materials being drilled, several screens may be needed to trap the materials, and sometimes the materials themselves are also coated in mud, which means that they will need to be cleaned even after filtration.

Some environmental problems have been associated with drilling mud. Historically, contaminated and dirty mud was dumped in open pits, allowing the natural environment to become polluted. Additionally, very aggressive chemicals are sometimes used to clean materials brought up when filtration was not sufficient. These chemicals can pollute the environment as well, generating a variety of environmental problems. Many companies that conduct drilling retain a compliance engineer who is responsible for monitoring the environmental impact of drilling activities, with the engineer ensuring that the company conforms with the law and its own internal environmental standards.

AboutMechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AboutMechanics researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By B707 — On May 26, 2011

Drilling equipment comes in all shapes and sizes. There are the huge ones used for drilling oil, while water drill equipment can be smaller trailers with shorter drill pipes.

Small groups living overseas, such as missionaries, pay less to have the water well drilling equipment shipped overseas. The small drill can be operated by 2 people.

By Clairdelune — On May 24, 2011

@SolarTower - I agree with your post. We Americans love our cars, but the oil won't last forever. The present methods for drilling for oil are putting harmful substances into our evironment. Another problem, as we saw in the BP accident, is company and government inspectors aren't following regulations or aren't even inspecting as often as they should.

This is a little off topic, but I'm concerned about our fresh water. There is a finite amount of fresh water in the world. Some countries need it badly. What will we do?

By SolarTower — On Aug 20, 2010

Humanity progresses over time and along with some of the greatest inventions we’ve also been through some of the greatest disasters. Deep drilling has helped discover oil reserves and boring through the different layers of Earth helps scientists learn about the past.

Unfortunately, we’ve discovered the chemicals used to coat these drills may have a long term environmental effect. I’m not sure what humans do these days that do not cause harm to some part of our planet. We are using up resources faster since our populations keep rising; these precious resources like oil cannot be replaced. We need to think about the effects of progress.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Read more
AboutMechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

AboutMechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.