When it comes to what kind of oil to use for your chainsaw, there are a few different types. There are also two different uses for oil in a chainsaw. For gas chainsaws, you must mix oil with gasoline as your main fuel.
With gas chainsaws and electric chainsaws, you must use oil to lubricate the chain of the chainsaw. Lubrication allows your chainsaw to work at maximum efficiency. Without proper lubrication, your chainsaw chain could seize, it could cause too much friction with the bar, and it could get worn out very quickly.
Proper lubrication for your chain allows it to spin smoothly around the bar so that you can cut wood easily. Most chainsaws come with an automatic lubrication system, in which you add oil and the system delivers a constant supply of oil to the chain so that your chainsaw works.
Today we will look at what kind of oil is best used for a chainsaw.
Bar Oil for Chainsaws
The recommended oil to use on your chainsaw is bar oil, which is a petroleum-based oil that can be very expensive. But it is expensive for a reason. Bar oil is specially designed to work with your chainsaw so that it functions properly. There are many alternatives, which we will go over shortly, but bar oil is definitely the best.
You see because a chainsaw spins very quickly, the oil must be sticky enough to stay on the chain while it is spinning. If the oil is not sticky enough, the chain will simply fling the oil off and then become too dry to function well.
At the same time, your chainsaw bar oil needs to be slippery. The whole point of bar oil is to keep your chain spinning smoothly, and that means it must be slippery so that the chain does not experience friction. And so, you need a chainsaw oil that is both slippery and sticky at the same time. Bar oil is specially designed for this.
Bar oil is also great to use in different types of weather. When it comes to substituting bar oil for motor oil or vegetable oil, you really need to worry about the weather. If the weather outside is very hot, a thick oil won’t work properly, and if the weather outside is very cold then a thin oil won’t work properly. However, bar oil is great for all seasons.
Motor Oil for Chainsaws
Not everyone can afford to use expensive bar oil on their chainsaw. If you want a cheap alternative, motor oil is a fairly good option. The biggest problem with motor oil is that it is not environmentally friendly. While the chain is spinning, you will be flinging droplets of oil all over the place. And this can harm the environment. This is especially true if you are spraying oil all over live trees and other organic matter.
That said, not everybody cares about the environment. If you don’t mind using motor oil, it is a great affordable alternative to bar oil. The only thing you need to worry about is the weather. If you are operating in warm weather, you need to use a summer oil that is SAE 30. If you are operating in winter conditions, you need to use a motor oil that is SAE 10.
Some people use old oil from their cars. While you can definitely do this, it is not recommended. Old motor oil will contain metal particles that can damage the bar and chain on your tool. Using already used motor oil is like drinking coffee that is a week old. You can drink it, but it is not good for you.
Vegetable oil is a super popular alternative to bar oil and motor oil. This is for a variety of reasons. First, vegetable oil is extremely cheap. You can easily buy an entire jug of vegetable oil for far less than you would buy a small bottle of bar oil or motor oil.
The second reason, and arguably the biggest reason for the switch from petroleum-based oils to vegetable oils, is because vegetable oil is environmentally friendly. You can spray vegetable oil all over the place and you are not going to cause a problem with the environment.
This is especially handy if you are working with live vegetation, if you are using your chainsaw to harvest animals after hunting, or if you are just a person who likes the earth. Vegetable oil is also very easy to remove from clothing. If you spill it on yourself, it is not the end of the world. Vegetable oil easily washes off.
The big downside to vegetable oil is that you cannot use it in cold weather. Vegetable oil has an extremely high viscosity. This means it is very thin and very slippery. It works amazingly in the summertime, but it is too viscous in the winter. You can definitely not use vegetable oil if it is cold outside.
This is a weird one. Believe it or not, hydraulic fluid is incredibly similar to motor oil. It can be used instead of motor oil for your chainsaw lubricant. It has the same kind of slipperiness and stickiness as motor oil. It is also much cheaper if you have access to machines with hydraulic pumps. You can definitely harvest a jug of used hydraulic fluid to use on your chainsaw.
This is the real budget option, and it is also probably the worst for the environment. You’re essentially spraying hydraulic brake fluid wherever you point your chainsaw. Also, hydraulic fluid dries very quickly. It dries much faster than motor oil, and way, way faster than vegetable oil.
What Kind Of Oil For Chainsaw: Final Thoughts
The best oil to use on your chainsaw is whatever the manufacturer recommends. Before you go dabbling with alternatives, read the instruction manual, and see what the manufacturer says. They built the chainsaw and they know what oil will make it work properly.