Bar oil for your chainsaw is a little different than the oil you may be thinking about. Bar oil is designed differently than the oil you use to mix in with your gasoline. Bar oil is used primarily as lubrication to stick to the chain and the bar of your chainsaw.
Because of this, bar oil does not come with a special grade from the Society of Automotive Engineers. In other words, there is no grade or weight classification for bar oil. There is certainly a weight classification for the motor oil you put in your car, but not for this kind of machine.
Bar oil is classified by whether it is used for summer or winter. And because each manufacturer has their own preferred oil type that they like used on their chainsaw, you should always check the manual before you go purchasing bar oil for your chainsaw.
What Types of Oil Are Used in Chainsaws?
Each chainsaw is going to operate a little differently, and the type of oil you use will depend on the weather conditions and the type of chainsaw. Because of this, there are three main types of oil that can be used to make sure your chainsaw is running at full power. The most popular forms of oil are vegetable oil, motor oil, and petroleum oil.
Petroleum-Based Oil vs Vegetable Oil
Petroleum-based oil has been used for a long time on all kinds of different machines. And while petroleum-based oil is fine when using on hydraulic pieces of machinery or other enclosed mechanics that don’t involve spray oil into nature, it is not the best for use with a chainsaw.
The reason many people don’t like petroleum-based oil with their chainsaw is because of the environmental implications. Petroleum is not friendly to the environment and is actually quite harmful to any natural thing that it touches.
On the other hand, vegetable oil is far less damaging to the environment. While it is still not good for the environment, it is definitely better than petroleum oil. Vegetable oil has less of a damaging effect on wildlife and nature and is even better for your health while operating your chainsaw.
The thing is that a chainsaw spins its chain, and that chain flicks oil pretty much in every direction. You might not be able to see it, but the oil you use on your bar and chain flies everywhere once the chainsaw begins cutting. For this reason, most people prefer vegetable oil over petroleum-based oil.
On a final note, vegetable oil also lasts longer and costs less than many of its competitors, like motor oil and petroleum-based oil.
Summer vs Winter
Like I said at the beginning of the article, the type of oil you use will depend on the weather. Chainsaw oil is either going to be winter or summer. It all depends on the temperature. This is because heat during the summer will thin your oil and the cold during the winter will thicken your oil.
Imagine your oil is like ice cream. If the weather is too cold, your ice cream will get chunky and freeze and it won’t work to lubricate your chainsaw parts. It will become an actual nightmare for you and your chainsaw.
On the opposite side of that, your ice cream will melt in the summer and become too thin and wet, and this is just as bad as if it were frozen solid. Your oil needs to be right in the middle in terms of viscosity, and this is why you must choose your oil depending on the weather.
Oil that is too thin or too thick will end up drying your chain and ultimately damaging your chainsaw. When you are purchasing oil, you will see that almost every type of motor oil found in a shop Is going to have a weight number. And while you are supposed to use special bar oil for your chainsaw, if you do end up using normal oil, you want to use 30 weight in the summer and 10 weight in the winter.
The Right Oil
Bar oil is designed specifically for chainsaws. You can use summer or winter motor oil with a weight rating, but the standard oil for your chainsaw is going to be a petroleum-based oil that comes in a lightweight oil for the winter and a heavy oil for the summer. Chainsaw oil is specially blended so that your machine has an extended lifespan.
The whole point of getting oil for your chainsaw is so that the chain is lubricated and there is no friction while it runs circles around the bar. Proper oil for your chainsaw prevents damages, and some unique bar oils will also keep debris and sap from getting stuck to the bar and clogging the chain.
This is why I always recommend getting the proper oil. You can always use vegetable oil, weighted motor oil, or anything else, but getting the right bar oil is critical for the longevity of your machine. Used motor oil, just as an example, is probably the worst thing you can stick in your chainsaw because it has horrible viscosity and will cause more harm than good.
Test the Weather
If you want to test exactly how good your lubricating oil is currently on your chainsaw, there is a process to do that. With your chainsaw fully lubricated with oil, go outside and hold your chainsaw 6 to 12 inches from a tree stump, a white rag, or anything where an oil discharge will be visible.
Next, rev your engine hard for anywhere between 30 and 60 seconds. If after 60 seconds there is no line formed from the spray coming off your chainsaw, then your oil is wrong. If you have your chainsaw properly lubricated with the right oil for the occasion, there will be a line of oil visible because it is flowing freely from the oiler and spraying off the chain.