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What type of chain oil is best for a chainsaw? Can you use vegetable oil?

- Jan 20, 2018 -

What type of chain oil is best for a chainsaw? Can you use vegetable oil?


Every model of a chainsaw is developed using different materials, design, and standards which require different types of oil to give the best possible performance. Essentially, lubricative oils are used to increase the life of the chainsaw and ensure that excessive friction or heat doesn’t damage the parts and reduce their lifespan and effectiveness at their job.

Best Electric chainsaws mostly require you to use bar and chain oil, which is used to oil the two most important parts of the electric chainsaw. It is necessary to keep these parts lubricated in the proper way so as to enable them to cope with the immense amount of motion and work they are subject to. However, using the wrong sort of oil not only damages these parts, but can also potentially affect the clutch assembly and the drive sprocket, both of which are also essential for the running of the chainsaw, and also expensive to repair or replace.

This is evident from the fact that one of the major indications that your electric chainsaw is running short on oil is the smoke that comes out of it while operation, and the excessive heating up of the machine, sometimes leading to an automatic shutdown if you use it for too long without the required amount of oil.

If the oil is not suited for the chainsaw, it might, in fact, end up harming the machine rather than helping it perform better.

Types of Oil That Can Be Used

Based on the type of electric chainsaw you buy, the work you do, the climate you live in and your personal preference, there are several different types of oil you can use to lubricate your electric chainsaw. Below are a few options in order of preference-

#1 Manufacturer Produced Bar And Chain Oil

Several electric chainsaw producer, mostly the larger companies with a decent research and development department manufacture their own brand of bar and chain oil and recommend that you use this for your electric chainsaw.

While a lot of people tend to feel that this may turn out to be more expensive, the fact remains that the manufacturers know their product the best. They conduct exhaustive research on both the chainsaw and the oil to ensure that the best possible result is obtained for your specific brand of chainsaw, while most other generic companies do so to accommodate as many brands as possible.

Thus, essentially, this oil is custom made for the specific brand and is capable of providing the best possible results. In the long run, it extends the life of the chainsaw and reduces repairs. Eventually, any extra amount you pay for the oil compared to generic manufacturers is aptly compensated in terms of long life and reduced repairs.

#2 Generic Bar and Chain Oil

While these types of bar and chain oils can’t usually measure up to manufacturer produced bar and chain oils, they are the best option for you if your chainsaw manufacturer does not produce their own brand of oil.

They are developed keeping in mind that they will be used for a variety of brands and thus, perform decently across all brands. Therefore, if you use more than one brand of an electric chainsaw in your company, you may be better off purchasing a good quality brand from this segment and using it for all of your machines. This will cost you cheaper than using multiple brands of bar and chain oil.

#3 Vegetable Oils

Vegetable oils are a bit more eco-friendly and can be used when you want to do minimal damage to the trees you are pruning. Industrial grade oils may affect the trees and damage them, which is undesirable if you are just pruning away a few branches and not interested in cutting off the tree.

However, care should be taken to understand the type of climate you are using the vegetable oil in since changes in climate can greatly affect the viscosity of the oil, and less viscous oil doesn’t really lubricate as well as highly viscous oil.

#4 Motor Oil

Motor oil may be recommended by several chainsaw users, but the fact remains that, even though it is cheaper to use, it doesn’t really provide the same level of lubrication and protection from heat and friction that specialized oils provide. Apart from this, it does nothing to reduce the amount of throw off at high speeds.

Motor oil also does not have a good capacity to prevent the build-up of gum and sap, which normally occurs while using electric chainsaws.


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