Chainsaw chain and bar oil is crucial for keeping your chainsaw operating effectively. It is designed to reduce friction, minimize wear and tear on your chainsaw, and eliminate rust. But is it safe? Find out below.
What Is Chainsaw Chain And Bar Oil?
Chainsaw chain and bar oil, also just called ‘chainsaw chain oil’, is a thin oil designed for use with chainsaws. Among many other properties, this kind of oil increases the life span of your chain by reducing its friction both against the bar and against itself as it rotates.
Chain oil is applied to the bar and to each individual link in a saw’s chain via a special automatic lubricating mechanism inside the chainsaw.
Does Chainsaw Chain Oil Go Bad?
Like all products, chainsaw chain oil faces the probability it will go bad at some point. However, the process is not as simple as directly correlating age or time of storage to spoilage. Two factors play a role: exposure to oxygen and contaminants.
Bar and chain oil contains hydrocarbon chains as well as some additives such as detergents and rust inhibitors. When exposed to air, heat and light, dirt particles, and other contaminants, it starts to break down.
This means that in time, chainsaw chain oil will go bad and need to be changed.
Can Chainsaw Chain Oil Catch On Fire?
Yes it can, but at a lower heat than motor oil. Chainsaw bar and chain oil does not heat up as easily because it is designed to prevent friction while not damaging the engine.
It is best not to store any kind of oil near an open flame or in direct sunlight. Always keep chainsaw chain oil in its original plastic container and the lid sealed tight.
What Oil Is Best For A Chainsaw Chain?
The best oil for a chainsaw chain is chainsaw bar and chain oil. This is specifically designed to be used in a chainsaw and provide lubrication for the chain as it rotates around the bar.
Chainsaw chain oil also reduces wear of the chain and sprockets by providing a layer of protection from heat, which can also prolong the life of your saw.
Vegetable Oil For Lubricating Chain Saws
Can you use vegetable oil to lubricate a chainsaw chain? Some users have tried this and the answer may surprise you. The answer to this question is Yes, but it has some pros and cons.
Vegetable oil is an inexpensive, readily available household product. It is used in cooking and can even be purchased at your local grocery store. A 4 liter container of vegetable oil will cost $10-15, similar to chainsaw chain oil, but is much more common and easily found at a local store.
Vegetable oil has some environmental benefits too. Chainsaw oil is petroleum based and are known carcinogens. Chainsaw oil eventually ends up in the environment and water supply. This makes vegetable oil more environmentally friendly than chainsaw chain oil.
Vegetable oil is also effective as a chainsaw chain oil. It has good resistance to shear, and high lubricity and viscosity. It has a high flash point, so is unlikely to catch on fire.
Many people have also discovered that vegetable oil will not harm the chain on a chainsaw when it’s applied to the chain before cutting wood. Canola oil is also another cheap substitute for chain oil.
Motor Oil For Lubricating Chain Saws
Chainsaws are similar to other machines and one very common one is the gas powered automobile. But can motor oil be used for lubricating chainsaw chains? The simple answer is yes, but there are some caveats. Let’s find out why motor oil can be used for chainsaws.
Aftermarket lubricants are available in various viscosities, formulations and prices. When choosing the right chainsaw bar oil, you must consider the saw model since each brand or manufacturer has its own specification on which type.
There are some significant downsides to using any type of motor oil as a chainsaw chain substitute. These include:
- It will not stick to the chain, rather it will drip off onto other components.
- The contents of the motor oil can degrade the chain.
- It will require extra cleanup.
No professional chainsaw supplier, technician, or operator will recommend using motor oil in place of actual chainsaw chain and bar oil.
What Grade Of Oil Is Chainsaw Bar Oil?
Chainsaw bar oil comes in certain grades. Grades of chainsaw bar oil generally fall into low viscosity and high viscosity . Low viscosity bar oil will flow faster through a saw’s chain lubrication system which can increase the chance of a saw from self-oiling. High viscosity chainsaw bar oil will have better lubricating properties
The viscosity of the chainsaw bar and chain oil should be chosen based on the season. In general, the following weights are recommended:
- Summer – 40 to 50 (heavy)
- Winter – 20 (lightweight)
- All year around – 30 to 40
Some chainsaw chain oils do not have season grades, and these should be expected to be for all year round protection.
Is Chainsaw Bar Oil Flammable?
Is oil generally flammable? This depends on the type of oil. Yes, some types of oil are flammable, while others not. Motor oil is one such example. Sometimes called “motorcycle chain bar oil,” it’s not flammable and generally won’t burn unless heated above its flashpoint (the lowest temperature at which enough vapours will ignite to cause a flash).
Chainsaw Bar oil, on the other hand is designed to have a very high heat tolerance. It is unlikely chainsaw bar oil will catch on fire during operations. However, if stored improperly, it could ignite if too close to an open flame.
Is Chainsaw Bar Oil Toxic?
All oil types are toxic to a certain extent. Chainsaw bar oil is no different. When the oil touches the skin or is swallowed, a person may exhibit some symptoms.
Symptoms may include:
Furthermore, the chainsaw bar oil can cause damage to the body if it gets into the local environment and is ingested in any way.
Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree in Economics from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use.