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Oil for Chainsaw’s: What You Must Know

Oil is as necessary for chainsaws as water is for humans. Just as we cannot function without adequate water in our body, a chainsaw cannot function without enough amount of oil. No matter the type of chainsaw you use, gasoline or electric, it needs oil one way or another.

Here’s the ultimate guide for everything you need to know about oil for a chainsaw.

Why is Chainsaw Oil Essential?

Before you buy chainsaw oil, you should be aware of what exactly it is going to deliver. Every professional and experienced chainsaw operator suggests buying chainsaw oil right when you are out buying your chainsaw.

Here are some of the things that chainsaw oil helps you with:

  • Oiling reduces friction in your chainsaw.
  • It prevents clogging.
  • It keeps your chainsaw clean and running.
  • It is extremely important for safety purposes.
  • Oil reduces emissions that are hazardous for the environment.
  • It prolongs the life of the chain and bar.
  • In the long run, it helps save a lot of money.

All of these reasons conclude that it is important to keep your chainsaw topped with oil, but in the correct quantity.

Why is Oil So Important for Gas Powered Chainsaws?

Gas-powered chainsaws operate on one principle: upward and downward movements of a single-piston. These up and down movements of the piston resulting in the energy that lets a chainsaw operate.

In order to ensure that it runs smoothly, oil plays an important role. It has to be mixed with the gas in the proper ratio to provide lubrication and power to the piston and engine, respectively.

If you only fill your gas-powered chainsaw with gas, it is not going to work. Oil works more as a fuel rather than a lubricant for gasoline chainsaws. As no machine operates without fuel, gas-powered chainsaws don’t operate without oil.

Why is Oil Required for Electric Chainsaws?

We have understood why oil is needed in a gas chainsaw, but why is it required in electric chainsaws? Well, oil is equally important for electric chainsaws. Even though it has no role to play in the fueling, it is highly significant when it comes to proper functioning.

Oil is required for electric chainsaws for the following purposes:


Lubrication is a necessity of every machine. Electric chainsaws are no exception. You need oil to lubricate the chain and bar. When your chainsaw is properly lubricated, it functions smoothly.

You are not going to need to invest a lot of muscle power. No lubrication results in rough cuts that make your pruning and cutting job tiring and time-consuming. It is better to lubricate your chainsaw on time to avoid having to deal with major problems. At times, a chainsaw can also burn if it is not lubricated properly.


Oiling your chainsaw helps with good maintenance. The right oil does not stick and so you do not need to clean your chainsaw very often. If you use your chainsaw occasionally, you must oil it properly before putting it back in the storeroom. The next time it will be ready to operate right out of the storage area.

However, if you do not oil it properly, it might give you a tough time whenever you use it.

What Kind of Oil Should You Use in a Chainsaw?

You need to get the kind of oil that comes with lubricating and maintenance properties. It is not necessary to stick to a specific brand when it comes to chainsaw oil. All the well-known and well-reputed brands offer different properties and characteristics of chainsaw oil. However, it is important to keep in mind that branded chainsaw oil comes at a higher price than regular ones.

Then why do people tend to use branded oil for their chainsaws? Well, it is mainly because of the following factors.


By now, you should have a good idea that chainsaw oil is a necessity. It helps with a number of different aspects. When you consider all of such aspects like cleanliness, lubrication, maintenance, and safety, it is not a good thing to go for a non-branded oil that can make it all go wrong.

And this is the main reason why people prefer branded chainsaw oils over average ones. They offer reliability and trusted use.

Lesser Contaminants

Another important factor is that chainsaw oils that come from a known brand do not have a lot of contaminants. Usually, chainsaw oil consists of a mixture of recycled oil with some additives. As you would want to use the purest form of oil for your chainsaw and not have any unwanted materials stuck in your machine, you should go with the one that is from a popular brand.

The extra price you pay for branded chainsaw oil is actually for the purer oil you are getting.

Lasts Longer

Branded chainsaw oil is a good investment to make. All the branded chainsaw oils tend to last longer than their average counterparts.

They last long due to a comparatively high number of additives. Additives are good for strengthening the lifespan of your chainsaw. These oils are restrained between the groove and chain for a long time.

You do not need to oil your chainsaw frequently. If you choose cheaper oils, you will soon realize that you need to refill them really often.

What Oil Should You Use in Electric Chainsaws?

The best chainsaw oil for electric chainsaws is the one that offers good lubrication. For that, our topmost priority is what the manufacturer recommends.

Manufacturers usually let you know the type of bar and chain oil you should use for your electric chainsaw. A number of different brands even have their own specific chainsaw oils for their chainsaws. If available, this is surely the best option to go for.

This is because these products are extensively tested on the chainsaws they are made for, and so they provide maximum benefits to your tool. Using other chainsaw oils can shorten the life of your chainsaw parts.

However, if the oil recommended by the manufacturer is not available, you can use other options, such as:

  • Vegetable Oil – This one is great if you are worried about carbon footprint and are having a hard time pruning the trees.
  • Alternative Chainsaw Oil – Different manufacturers also recommend an alternative chainsaw oil. If given, you must use the alternative recommended by the manufacturer itself.

Which Oil is Required for Gas Powered Chainsaw?

Different chainsaw oils are present for gas-powered chainsaws. As mentioned above, oil is used both as a fuel and a lubricant for gas-powered chainsaw.

As is the case for electric chainsaws, it is better to use the oil that a manufacturer recommends. Otherwise, any standard oil can be used.

Petroleum-based oils are usually the standard for chainsaws. These suit best to machinery. They enhance productivity and help you make the most out of your investment. In case of gas-powered chainsaws, there are no alternatives. You are stick to petroleum-based 2 stroke oil recommended by the manufacturer for life.

What Does Bar Oil Do for a Chainsaw?

Bar oil provides great functioning benefits to the chainsaw, such as:

  • It adds a lot of ease and convenience to the use of the chainsaw.
  • It acts as a lubricating agent.
  • It eliminates the need to clean your chainsaw every now and then.
  • It does not stick to the chainsaw.
  • It extends the lifespan of your chainsaw.

Can You Use Motor Oil for a Chainsaw?

Motor oil comes in two forms: new motor oil and used motor oil. Generally, used motor oil is widely available.

Even though motor oil can be used for lubricating a chainsaw, it might not actually benefit your chainsaw. Manufacturers usually recommend avoiding the use of motor oil.

Used motor oil has already served its purpose. The one you are using now is rich in contaminants which can stick to your tool. Motor oil does more harm than good to your chainsaw. Also, it lacks enough viscosity to lube your chain properly.

It is better to look for some other chainsaw oils than used motor oil to avoid spending hours cleaning it afterward.

Can You Use Vegetable/Cooking Oil for a Chainsaw?

Yes, vegetable oil can be used as a lubricating oil for a chainsaw.

This is because almost all the lubricating chain oils sold are petroleum-based. Recently, these have been termed as carcinogens. Prolonged use of petroleum-based products results in a number of health risks. Such oils lead to irritation in respiratory tracts.

Moreover, as you put a petroleum-based oil into your chainsaw, it travels around the bar as you start using it. Eventually, they stick to the sawdust. While you use your chainsaw, all the lubricant ends up in your surrounding area. Thus, it damages the environment greatly.

Due to all of these hazards, people have started using vegetable oil for chainsaws rather than petroleum-based chainsaw oils.

What are the Advantages of Replacing Chain Oil with Vegetable Oil?

As the use of vegetable oil for chainsaws has increased over time, a number of advantages have come forward. Following are some of them:


The first and foremost advantage is that the use of vegetable oil poses no threats and dangers to the environment. It is equally safe for all living beings.

High Effectiveness

Vegetable oil is a natural lubricant. It comes with a number of properties naturally that adds a lot to its effectiveness. The following are some of them:

  • It provides good lubricity.
  • It is capable of resisting shear.
  • It comes with a high flash point.
  • It has a relatively high viscosity index.
  • It prevents the chainsaw component’s wear and tear.

Safe for the Operator

The one that is affected the most by chainsaw oil is the chainsaw operator. As chainsaws run at high RPMS, oil mists are automatically produced. When the operator inhales these mists or the body absorbs it, the results are dangerous.

When it comes to vegetable oils, they have a low vapor pressure. Lesser the oil fumes produced, lesser the operator inhales. According to this, vegetable oils are safer than petroleum-based chainsaw oils.


Vegetable oil is cheaper than chain oil as it is used domestically. A liter of chain oil costs around $3.3 whereas a liter of vegetable oil costs around $2.6

The prices may differ according to the area but the general difference in prices remains almost the same.

And so, vegetable oil is more cost-effective than chain oil.

Always Available

While chain oil might not be available at mechanic shops, vegetable oil is always available at a grocery store.

These advantages have resulted in increased use of vegetable oil as a replacement of chain oil.

Should You Use Canola Oil for a Chainsaw?

Yes, canola oil can be used for a chainsaw as well. However, you must not confuse canola oil with vegetable oil. A number of websites take vegetable oil and canola oil as the same whereas actually, they are different.

While vegetable oil is extracted for different plants and then mixed together, canola oil is specifically extracted from rapeseeds only. It is thinner and has more versatile properties than vegetable oil.

Canola oil can be used as a natural substitute for chain oil. It comes with all the advantages a vegetable oil has to offer and a few more. They are as follows:

Lower Vapor Pressure

Canola oil has an even lower vapor pressure than vegetable oil. This means lesser oil mists and fewer fumes. Hence, there are minimal chances of inhaling the fumes in. Even if you inhale the fumes, they are not life-threatening.

Lesser Skin Irritation

Canola oil is almost similar to human skin oil. This results in lesser skin irritation than that caused by motor oil and vegetable oil.

These added advantages make canola oil a preferable option over vegetable oil.

What Should You Keep in Mind While Using Vegetable or Canola Oil as a Replacement?

If you are going to use vegetable or canola oil for the first time in your chainsaw, it is important to note the following things:

These Oils are Thinner

As these oils are thinner than chain oils, they have lower viscosities. This results in some leaking from the oil port even when the saw is not working. In order to avoid the leakage, you need to keep a good check on the oil level.

It is recommended to tighten the oiler flow screw that is usually present at the base of the saw. It prevents leakage.

They are Clearer

Vegetable and canola oil are clearer than chain and bar oils. And so, these are harder to see. You may accidentally overflow while filling the reservoir. When you are filling your chainsaw with vegetable or canola oil, you need to keep looking at the fill level so as to not exceed.

They Have Certain Limitations to Colder Temperature

The only disadvantage of vegetable and canola oil is that they cannot withstand low temperature and have reduced oxidation stability. So, if you are going to use vegetable or canola oil in winters, you need to add some additives.

These additives make these oils able to withstand colder temperatures. Vegetable-based chain oils with additives are becoming very popular. These are available at stores that sell chainsaw accessories.

These Can’t be Used for Gas Mix

An important thing to bear in mind is that vegetable oil or canola oil cannot be used as a replacement for petroleum-based oil when mix oil for gas-powered chainsaw is concerned.

A gas-powered chainsaw only works with a mix of gas and petroleum-based chainsaw oil.

Can You Use 2 Stroke Oil in a Chainsaw?

Most of the modern gas-powered chainsaws come with two-stroke engines. All of such engines require 2 stroke petroleum-based oils as they will not work with any other.

So yes, you can use 2 stroke oil in a chainsaw but only in 2 stroke gas-powered chainsaws.

However, there are certain factors to consider while buying 2 stroke oil for your gasoline chainsaw. These are:

Film Strength

A good 2 stroke oil comes with a powerful film strength. This ensures that oil is lubricating the gap between piston ring and wall of the cylinder. Film strength determines how much 2 stroke oil is capable of not breaking down due to the greater effect of speed, increased load, and high temperature of the engine.

If the 2-stroke oil does not have an unbroken film, your engine will show wear and tear very soon. Therefore, film strength is important for the durability of your tool.

High Wetting Capability

Another factor to consider is the wetting capability. A 2 stroke oil with high wetting capability makes sure that the oil has reached every nook and corner of your engine. If a 2-stroke oil does not have high wetting capability, it can serve its very main purpose i.e. lubricating down to the bottom of the engine.

Burning Capacity

2 stroke oil must burn well. Only if it is exploding in the cylinder, it can add energy to the fuel. Therefore, you must get 2 stroke oil that burns well and burns clean. If the 2 stroke oil burns badly, it leaves deposits behind such as carbon.

These deposits can slowly build up in the engine and eventually lead to engine failure. In order to ensure that the 2 stroke oil burns cleanly, the oils now come with fuel stabilizer. You must look up to 2 stroke oil that includes fuel stabilizer.

It improves the fuel economy as well as the overall performance of your chainsaw’s engine.

Keeping in view these factors can help you get the best 2 stroke oil for your gasoline chainsaw.

Are All Bar and Chain Oils the Same?

No, all bar and chain oils are not the same. Every chainsaw oil comes in different grades. Each manufacturer has its own recommendation of the type and grade of oil that should be used.

Also, the bar and chain oils are different with respect to temperature as well. Higher temperature in summers thins the bar and chain oil while the lower temperature in winters thickens it. In both of these situations, the bar and chain oil ultimately dries the chain. This can damage your chainsaw.

In order to prevent these conditions, various kinds of bar and chain oils are produced and hence are not the same.

Bar and chain oils are prepared keeping in view air temperature and the type of chainsaw. If you think you can use the same bar and chain oil for the variety of chainsaws you have, this is not the case.

You need to look into the needs and requirements of your chainsaw and the environment before picking up a bar and chain oil for your chainsaw.

Does Weather Have Any Role to Play in the Consistency of Oil You are Using?

The weather has an important role to play in the consistency of oil being used in your chainsaw. Chainsaw oils have been categorized into two different types depending on the temperature change. These are:

  • Summer chainsaw oil
  • Winter chainsaw oil

Summer Oil

Summer oil is heavier. It has a thick consistency. This helps it in sticking to your chainsaw components and surface really well. As the temperature in high in summers, the oil usually melts and becomes thins. Therefore, you need a thicker oil that won’t be much affected by the rising temperature out there.

The summer oil remains thick and so it would not fly off your chainsaw easily.

Winter Oil

Winter oil is lightweight. It has a thinner consistency. This is due to a number of different reasons. The main reason is that low temperature makes the oil freeze and become thick. The already thick oil i.e. summer oil takes no time in becoming thicker and is useless.

On the other hand, winter chainsaw oil will pour down easily. Also, it will circulate around the various parts and lubricate the surface properly even in cold temperatures.

It is necessary to choose the chainsaw oil according to the temperature. It leads to the efficient functioning of your chainsaw.

How to Mix Oil and Gas for Gas Powered Chainsaws?

As gas powered chainsaws run on a mixture of oil and gas, it is important to mix them properly. Manufacturers strongly emphasize on mixing the oil and gas correctly. This oil mix determines whether your chainsaw will endure or die a premature death.

When you get 2 stroke oil, a proper ratio to mix it with is mentioned on it. Mixing it in the suggested ratio can result in optimum performance of your engine.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that you should always use a gas can to get the mixture and not a fuel tank. It is difficult to do so in a fuel tank and is not good for the machine either.

Once you’re done mixing, you are ready to pour it in the tank. If it pours well, it is mixed properly.

So, the two main things required to mix oil and gas are a proper gas-to-oil ratio and a suitable mixing container.

What is the Appropriate Mixture Ratio of Gas to Oil in Gas Powered Chainsaws?

Different manufacturers suggest different ratios. Generally, the ratio for most of the 2-stroke gas powered chainsaw engines is 50:1 or 40:1.

The greater number represents the amount of gas while the smaller number stands for the amount of oil to be added.

If you have one gallon of gasoline, you need to add 2.5 ounces of 2 stroke oil to the container according to 50:1 ration. If you are preparing a 40:1 blend, it takes 3 ounces of oil in one gallon of clean unleaded gasoline.

If you are using the mixture you mixed a few days before, shake it well to distribute the oil into gas completely. Also, it is important to use premixed oil within a few days. If you keep it for weeks, it turns to waste.

How Long Does 2 Stroke Oil Last in the Engine?

2 stroke oil is safe to use as long as it is sealed in a container. It doesn’t get spoiled at all. Also, you can use 2 stroke oil anytime if it is still clean.

If you have 2 stroke oil opened for long but have not used it in a while, the efficiency and effectiveness of the machine might not be the same.

Another thing that contributes to the longevity of 2 stroke oil is how old your chainsaw is. As a chainsaw gets older with time, it needs oil more frequently than the new and fresh running chainsaws.

If you are going to use the 2-stroke oil you have kept for a long time but was sealed properly, you are good to go.

You must also keep in mind that using old oil for old chainsaw works well. It won’t be doing any harm. In case you have a new chainsaw, it is better to get new oil so that the engine runs optimally.

Usually, a 2-stroke oil lasts as long as gasoline does. Whenever you need to refill gasoline, make sure you use the same ratio.

What are some of the Best 2-stroke Chainsaw Oils?

The best 2 stroke chainsaw oil is the one that comes with the highest possible standards. It should not only last longer but should come at a reasonable price as well.

A number of different chainsaw oil brands have put forward some of the best 2 stroke chainsaw oils. The list runs long. Each manufacturer usually recommends its own specific 2 stroke chainsaw oil. But if you cannot find that one on the market, there are some other good 2 stroke chainsaw oils available out there.

Some of these include:

  • Briggs & Stratton 2 cycle Easy Mix Motor Oil
  • Echo power blend oil
  • Toro 2 cycle 2.6 Oz oil
  • Poulan 40:1 2 cycle oil
  • Stens 50:1 2 cycle oil mix
  • Husqvarna XP 2 stroke oil

All of these 2 stroke oil brands are well-reputed. They offer film strength, high wetting ability, and they last long. However, you must have a look at the reviews for these quality products for further satisfaction.

Do Cordless Battery Powered Chainsaws Need Oil for Lubrication?

Yes, like all the other chainsaws, cordless battery-powered chainsaws need oil as well. As a matter of fact, oil is always required for lubrication purposes when we talk about electric chainsaws.

As cordless battery-powered chainsaws are the type of electric chainsaws, they have the same lubrication and maintenance needs.

Every cordless chainsaw comes with a separate oil filler. You need to fill the oil in the oiler regularly. Some cordless chainsaws feature automatic oiling which means it needs minimal maintenance. However, you still need to check oil levels frequently.

Whenever the oil is running low, fill it up, and the bar and chain will be oiled automatically. This ensures that your chainsaw is lubricated fully and works properly. As either a beginner or professional, you will not want to invest on chainsaws again and again just because you did not pay attention to its maintenance.

Lubricating your chainsaw is a good habit to develop from the very start. So, invest in good oil and keep your machinery usable for a long time.

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