As you might already know, every chainsaw comes with a particular bar and chain oil that is recommended by the manufacturer. And while you should of course take the manufacturer’s suggestions seriously, what if that oil is not around? What happens if you need to use your chainsaw but you don’t have any proper bar and chain oil?
Or even worse, what if it is too expensive? Nobody wants to buy a jug of oil that is more expensive than their chainsaw. And so, the solution is an alternative. And yes, there are definitely some great alternatives for bar and chain oil.
But you cannot use them willy-nilly with no discretion. Alternative oils must be carefully picked to make sure your chainsaw continues running at optimal performance while maintaining the durability of your bar and chain. These are important pieces of the machine and they must be kept properly oiled.
The only issue with using an alternative oil is that it could nullify the warranty of your chainsaw. This is always something to consider, especially down the line if you need to get your chainsaw fixed or replaced and the manufacturer asks what kind of oil you were using, and you tell them vegetable oil.
What Are Bar and Chain Oil Substitutes?
There are a few great choices for bar and chain oil substitutes. There are also three main properties that make the oil useful for your bar and chain. Remember that the point of the oil is to keep your chain properly lubricated while it spins around the bar.
Without having the proper qualities, your chain may not get the lubrication it needs. This can result in too much friction because your chain isn’t spinning as smoothly as it should be. With friction, you will find it harder to cut through wood. You may find yourself having to force the chainsaw rather than Allowing it to do the cutting on its own.
If you use the wrong oil substitute, and you start to get too much friction with the chain of bar, both parts are going to get worn. You will end up having to replace them much sooner than expected. This is obviously not ideal.
The first quality is the slipperiness. A quality chainsaw lubricant must be slippery in order to prevent tree sap and other sticky debris from getting stuck to the bar or the chain while you are cutting. Believe it or not, this is actually a huge problem, and one of the most important reasons to have good oil.
The second quality is the stickiness. Considering that your chainsaw will probably run at an equivalent of roughly 45 mph when the throttle is fully open, you need an oil that is sticky enough to stay on the chainsaw. Otherwise, the oil could fly off, and then you are left vulnerable.
The third characteristic is eco-friendly. You always want your oil to be environmentally friendly. This means a biodegradable oil that won’t emit poisonous toxins while you are operating your chainsaw.
The Top Bar & Chain Oil Substitutes
There are three main substitutes that work great when you don’t have the proper bar and chain oil handy. Each one is a little different, and one may suit your chainsaw better than the other. It often comes down to outside temperature and your own preferences.
Motor oil is definitely the most widely available substitute for bar and chain oil. It is an awesome lubricant and it comes pretty cheap in a small bottle.
It is important to note that only filtered motor oil should be used in your chainsaw as a bar and chain alternative. If you decide to use used car oil in your chainsaw, make sure it is filtered first. You also want it to be warm as you are harvesting it, as it will ultimately result in a cleaner oil. If you are collecting it from your vehicle, make sure you do it before the vehicle is cool.
When using motor oil, you always want to use the proper weight for the season. This means that in the winter you should use 10-weight oil and in the summer you should use 30-weight oil. This is important for the performance of your machine. In the winter, an extremely light oil won’t work. And in the summer, a very heavy oil won’t work.
Vegetable oil is another great alternative. It is affordable, and it is a great lubricant. Also, vegetable oil is biodegradable and environmentally friendly. And if you are in need of a greener oil to use in a specific environment where being eco-friendly is necessary, vegetable oil is the best.
For example, when working with animals you definitely can’t use motor oil. If you need to quarter a lamb or a deer, and you want to use your chainsaw, vegetable oil is the absolute best. Also, it is easy to clean and it doesn’t stain your clothes.
Vegetable oil also offers great resistance to shear, it has a high viscosity, and it has a high flashpoint. The only big negative to using vegetable oil is that it’s pretty much useless in the winter. Vegetable oil is way too thin to be used when the temperature drops.
No, canola oil is not the same as vegetable oil. Canola oil can be used as an alternative to bar and chain oil, absolutely, but it is not the same as vegetable oil. Canola oil comes extracted from rapeseeds, whereas vegetable oil is generally made from a mix of plants. But yes, they are quite similar.
If you are using your chainsaw in the summer, canola oil is sometimes even better than vegetable oil. Canola oil is considered more versatile, and it is much thinner than vegetable oil. But it does share the same winter weakness. Canola oil is way too thin to be used in cold weather. It is strictly for summer usage.