Ontario Structural Wood Association

What Can I Use for Chainsaw Bar Oil?

If you have ever owned a chainsaw, than you know that they always come with a recommendation for what type of bar oil you should use.  But if that particular oil isn’t available to you or you simply find that the price it far too expensive, what are you to do? 

The answer is actually much simpler than you may think.  In fact, with a little bit of improvising, you will be able to find many different alternatives to bar oil for your chainsaw than you would have thought.

But very similar to the recommendations of the chainsaw manufacturer, any alternative oils that you are planning to use will need to be selected to make sure that the optimal performance of the chainsaw, as well as maintaining its durability as well.

So before you even think about testing out any type of alternative oil, you are first going to have to make sure that any type of deviation away from what the manufacturer has recommended will nullify your chainsaw’s warranty.  As soon as you find this out, it will be much easier for you to arrive at the most appropriate solution to your chainsaw bar oil problems.

What Can I Use for Chainsaw Bar Oil

Before you are able to find which alternative oil is going to work best for your chainsaw bar, you are going to first need to understand exactly what the manufacturer’s oil was going to provide.  These can include:

  • Slipperiness – The better chainsaw lubricants are going to be very slippery as they will need to prevent any type of tree sap or other debris from getting stuck to the bars while you are using your saw.
  • Stickiness – When you factor in that a chainsaw runs at a pace of roughly 45 miles per hour when at full throttle, the alternative oil that you decide to use if going to need to have enough stickiness to stick to the chain.
  • Eco-Friendly – Whatever alternative oil you decide to use should ideally be eco-friendly.  It will need to be biodegradable and should not put off any type of poisonous fumes when you are using it.

While there is no shortage of different types of oil within the oil industry, if you are going to be successful when it comes to using an alternative type of chainsaw bar oil, it will need to fulfill all of the requirements that have been set forth by the manufacturer. 

Here are some of the most efficient alternatives when it comes to chainsaw bar oil substitutes:

Motor Oil

Motor Oil for chainsaw

Chances are that you may actually have some motor oil in the garage for your car, but if not, it is one of the easiest types of oil to get your hands on.  On top of being highly accessible, it is also much more affordable than most chainsaw bar oils as well.

With that being said, you need to be sure that if you do decide to use motor oil for your chainsaw bar, that you only use filtered motor oil.  This means that if you are going to recycle used oil from your car, you will need to filter it first. 

If you are going to use motor oil as bar oil, be sure that it is warm when you are harvesting, as this can aid in helping to ease the entire filtration process that will ultimately lead too much cleaner oil.  This means that you are going to have to collect the oil from your car before it has a chance to cool off, or even with the engine running.

Before you do decide to use motor oil as chainsaw lubricant, you are going to want to take a second and compare the weights of the oil that you are using in your car, with your chainsaw’s requirements and the season.  If it is the summer time, you will want to use SAE 30 weight motor oil, and if it is during the winter, you will want a SAE 10 weight.

While motor oil is readily available and very efficient, its usage is still not recommended, as it is not a naturally biodegradable substance.  With that being said, any effects that it does have on the environment are going to be negligible.  That being said, it is hard to outweigh these few shortcomings with motor oil’s availability and affordability.

Vegetable Oil

Vegetable Oil for chainsaw

Another great substitute for chainsaw bar oil that is also very affordable is vegetable oil.  On top of that, vegetable oil also maximizes on most of the parts it comes in contact with in the chainsaw’s motor, making it an even more ideal lubricant.  Plus, with vegetable oil being biodegradable, it is also an environmental friendly option.

One of the other benefits of using vegetable oil as chainsaw bar lubricant is that it will also come in handy when you need to use your chainsaw in a hygienic situation.  For example, say that you need to quarter a lamb or deer.  Are you really going to use chain oil that was recommended by the manufacturer for this?  And to top it of, vegetable oil is not going to stain your clothes like motor oil or regular chainsaw oil will.

Essentially, before you decide to settle on only using the recommended chainsaw bar oil from the chainsaw company, you may want to consider some of the other alternative options that are available too you.  Just be sure that when you are looking at alternative chainsaw bar oil substitutes, you take a second and compare their eco-friendliness and lubrication power, as that is what’s most important when it comes to your chainsaw oil.

If you are going to try and save some money with your saw and your oil, you are going to need to commit to using a chainsaw bar oil alternative.  While the alternatives that have been listed above are great choices for you to make, just be sure that you are not going to void out your chainsaw’s warranty when you do use an alternative bar oil on it.


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