Does your chainsaw bar or chains wear out too quickly? Or had your bar suddenly started showing discolorations along its edges?
If so, this is likely due to the issues with the chainsaw oil you use- either the oil itself or it flow rate. Every chainsaw requires consistent application of chainsaw oil for it to function correctly.
Regardless of what task you’re using your chain for, you’d always want to keep a gallon of chainsaw oil by your side to avoid the potential damage a chain/bar that’s not lubricated can do to your chainsaw or the injuries it can cause to you.
But what’s the right chainsaw oil to use? If you’re confused the right oil to apply to your chain, you’re in the right place. In this post, we’ll explain to you the best oils for your chainsaw, including all the available alternatives.
But first- We Bust the Chainsaw Oil Myths!
Unlike what almost all chainsaw users think, chainsaw oil does not necessarily offer lubrication between the wood you’re cutting and the saw- this friction exists where the cutting happens.
Rather, the oil lubricates the groove and helps in reducing the friction/resistance as your chain continues spinning at high rpm.
Too much friction may result in damages to your chain or bar (and increase the chances of a breakage occurring) and reduce the lifespan of the machine.
Less resistance, on the other hand, means faster chain and more rapid cutting and extended equipment lifespan. For this reason, it’s always important that you keep your chainsaw properly oiled at all times.
The standard Chainsaw Oil
The standard chainsaw oil is petroleum-based. But this oil has slightly different properties compared to the traditional motor oil.
First, it ought to be slippery enough to prevent any tree sap or debris from sticking to your chain and bar. Secondly, it has to be sticky enough to remain on your chain as it spins at extremely high speeds.
Still, on it, it’s important to note that some chainsaw manufacturers- such as SHITL and Poulan- have come up with their branded chainsaw oils. Such oils are formulated such that they work specifically for the individual brands.
The petroleum based chainsaw oil is available in a variety of weights. There are summer and winter oils. If you happen to reside in the colder areas, winter oil is lighter making it easy to pour and circulate the chainsaw at the low temperatures. Summer oil is thicker and so that it sticks to the chainsaw for a longer time, despite the high heat.
The oils regarded as the standard for chainsaw are sometimes formulated from the reclaimed engine oil. This means they’re not good for the environment. What’s more, if you’ve sensitive skin, you might as well need to avoid them.
What Are The Alternatives Available?
What if you get stuck far away from where you’ve stores your chainsaw oil? Is there anything else you can use as an alternative to the standard chainsaw oil? Yes, there are. But before we get to that, there are probably two reasons you could be looking for the alternatives.
- Either you want something that has less impact on the environment, or
- You’re in a pinch.
If you’re looking for alternative chainsaw oil that’s not only environmental friendly but also works well on your machine, you should go for the biodegradable oils- created mostly from the plant oils…
According to Icecubicle, you cannot recycle any oil you feed to your chainsaw. All of it gets absorbed into the environment- either via misting or by spraying from the bar. If you happen to be using chainsaw oil that’s not environmental friendly, therefore, you’re likely to cause more harm to your surrounding environment such as ornamental gardens, water features, and even live fish.
Also, don’t forget that the same oil comes into contact with you as you operate the machine- either through skin or inhalation- and has far reaching consequences such as skin irritations and respiratory problems.
Thankfully, most companies have come up with biodegradable oils for use with your chainsaw. Such oils are based on the cold pressed vegetable oils and has some additives that help them stick to your chainsaw for longer.
- The oils are highly degradable- with 90%plus of the oil degrading in less than three weeks.
- Most chainsaw operators share great reviews of these oils, stating that they’re just as effective as the petroleum based lubricants.
- However, note that all biodegradable oils tend to be a little bit expensive compared to the regular chainsaw oil.
Vegetable Oil- Another Chainsaw Oil Alternative?
For the folks who are looking for less expensive, eco-friendly oils, utilizing simple vegetable oils will work. Vegetable oil- particularly canola oil- is the most used industrial lubricant.
And when you’re utilizing this type of oil, we recommend you to keep an eye on the reservoir. Why? Vegetable oil tends to be thinner than other varieties in the warmer conditions. It will, therefore, flow more quickly. Proper tuning of the saw will help you reduce the amount of chainsaw you’ll be using.
Words of Caution: vegetable oils lack anti-freeze additives which mean you might start running into some problems when it thickens or hardens completely at extremely low temperatures ( below -0 to 15 degrees Celsius).
Avoid leaving your saw with vegetable oils in the cold. If you’re not planning on using the say for several months, make sure you drain all the oil in the reservoir.
Beyond the cautions above, vegetable oils are cheap, biodegradable, environmental friendly, healthier, among other benefits.
What NOT To Use
Whether you’re using the standard chainsaw oil, vegetable-based lubricants, or the motor oils, always ensure you’re using fresh oil when filling the oil tank. Never use recycled oil that you drained from the car or boat. Never attempt to refill the oil reservoir when the saw is running. And never run your saw when the bar is dry.
Bringing It All Together
Now you have an idea what type of oil to use for your chainsaw. The traditional chainsaw oil is petroleum based. However, due to its adverse effects on the environment and the chainsaw operators, people are turning to other chainsaw oil alternatives.
Some of the best options we’ve discussed above are different varieties of bio-oils and vegetable oils. Fresh motor oil also works as great!
Keep your chainsaw oil reservoir in check at all times, and you’ll enjoy optimal performance from the cutting machine!