4 Chainsaw Oil Alternatives – Cheap and Manageable

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From my experience, I have found 4 oils that can be used instead of chainsaw oil. The 4 oils are:

  1. Vegetable Oil
  2. Canola Oil
  3. Motor Oil
  4. Hydraulic Fluid

Sometimes, it comes to a situation where you don’t have chainsaw oil, but you need to use your chainsaw. On the other hand, if we find cheap Chainsaw oil alternatives to traditional oil, why wouldn’t we use it?

Comparison Table – Chainsaw Oil Substitutes

PropertiesVegetable OilCanola OilMotor OilHydraulic Fluid
Oxidizing StabilityLowLowHighHigh
High-Temperature usagePoorModerategoodModerate
Low-Temperature usagePoorModerateGoodModerate

Chainsaw Oil Alternatives

1. Motor oil

This is a very well-known oil and can be found in every house. Motor oil can be used as lubrication for a chainsaw as it has close properties to chainsaw oil. But it is a little less dense. Because of that, running a chainsaw with motor oil will spray more than usual. But the advantage is you can find this oil everywhere.


  1. If you own a car, you probably have one already at your home.
  2. It comes with various viscosity, which helps to choose the right oil.  


  1. It is non-organic, so it is harmful to the environment.
  2. When cutting tree branches, tiny droplets will stick on the tree, causing harm.
  3. More costly than Chainsaw Oil.
  4. Sprays more while using.

2. Vegetable oil:

This oil can be found in every kitchen. Vegetable oil could be a cheap and environment-friendly alternative to bar oil. But it is far thinner than a bar oil. And you couldn’t use it in cold weather. You could use it if you have urgent work but ran out of bar oil. It is not recommended to use this oil for long.


  1. Cheap material you already have in your kitchen.
  2. Organic material and doesn’t do any harm to the environment.
  3. Viscosity level high.


  1. Can’t use in cold weather because it becomes too much viscous.
  2. It will dry up quickly.

3. Canola Oil:

Canola oil is a vegetable oil extracted from rapeseed. It is also a common kitchen item. It is organic and cheap. It is thinner, so running a chainsaw with it might spray more. But it gives us the option to work in the cold as it does not freeze that quickly as other vegetable oil would. You can use this oil as an alternative, but it is not recommended to use it in the long run.


  1. Organic oil.
  2. Can work under low temperature.
  3. Cheaper than Chainsaw Oil.


  1. Dries up quickly.

4. Hydraulic fluid:

This mineral-based oil is frequently used for power transmission fluid and lubricant. It can be of different viscosity, but it is not cheap. It is also a mineral-based oil that can be harmful to the environment. But different thickness allows us to use oil close to a bar oil. It is also available everywhere.


  1. Can be found easily.
  2. Increases maneuverability. 


  1. Non-organic oil harms the environment.
  2. Dries up faster.
  3. Expensive than a bar oil.
  4. Can be injurious to health.

Cost Difference:

Chainsaw oil will cost around 8-9 dollars per litter. On the other hand, vegetable oil will cost around 2.5-3 dollars per litter. It is far cheaper than chainsaw oil. It is environmentally friendly also.

Canola oil is a bit expensive, pricing around 5-6 dollars per litter. It is expensive than vegetable oil but cheaper than bar oil. Being organic is a plus point of this oil. You can use it in a cold environment. Using too much may damage your chainsaw.

Motor oil may vary in cost as different brands have different prices. But in general, it will cost like 7-10 dollars per litter. There is not much difference in cost between motor oil and bar oil. I think it would be wiser to use chainsaw oil rather than motor oil.

Hydraulic fluid is the most expensive one on the list. It may cost around 20 dollars per litter. If it is not that urgent, no one should use this oil as an alternative.

Why is lubrication needed for chainsaws?

Both the gas and battery-powered chainsaws working principle is the same. There is a bar on which the chain runs. If there is no lubrication between the chain and the bar, it will produce very much heat due to friction. As a result, working efficiency will go down drastically, and the excess heat can deform, discolor, chip, melt both the chain and the bar.

What is the viscosity of a lubricant?

To understand lubricant properly, we must understand viscosity. Viscosity is the measure of resistance to flow for a liquid. It is the internal friction of a moving fluid. In simple words, viscosity is the measure of the slipperiness of a fluid.

Why we need alternatives to chainsaw oil?

Chainsaw oils that we can buy from markets are mainly petroleum-based oil. These oils aren’t environment friendly and they end up mixing freely in the environment. Every year chainsaw oil ends up in the forest where people go for cutting woods. It affects the ecology of that area.

Chainsaw oils are also expensive. Many brands with big-name sell oil in this particular sector, raising the price. So if we have an alternative for chainsaw oil, we can save some money.

How to lubricate your chainsaw

Every chainsaw is designed to self-lubricate. You have to locate the oil reservoir. Put oil into the oil reservoir and that’s all you needed to do.

If you want to know when you should pour oil, you have to do a test. Take a paper and stand it vertically.

Run the chainsaw and take the tip 8 inches far from the paper. You will see an oil mark within a few minutes. If you don’t see any mark or the mark appears very slowly or late, you need to lube your chainsaw.

Chainsaw oil leaking

It is entirely normal for a chainsaw to leak oil when it is not in use. Don’t be concern if you see a bunch of oil at the bottom of the chainsaw where it was stored.

Generally, it is the oil from the bar and chain remaining from last use. It can also be a valve issue as the reservoir use slightly high pressure.

To avoid leakage, you should make the tanks empty after every use. Don’t fill your gas and oil when it is not in use. Open the chain and clean both the chain and the guided bar. Place cardboard under chainsaw when it is no in use.

Common Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use 5w30 as bar oil?

Yes, you can use 5w30 as bar oil. You will be fine. 5w30 oil has the property of bonding to the metal surface. It will prevent rusting and give you a smooth experience. But it is not an organic oil. It has some harmful effects on the environment.

Can I use Olive oil as bar oil?

Olive oil wouldn’t give you much ease at lubrication. Olive oil is thin. It does not have oxidizing stability. You can’t use it for the long run. But if you run out of oil and urgently need to use it for a short time, cutting down small branches, you will be fine.

What happens if I run a chainsaw without lubrication?

In a chainsaw, the chain moves on the guided bar. The friction between the chain and the bar is noticeably high, which generates heat. If you don’t lubricate, this heat will damage your chain. Your efficiency will also lessen some part of the outcome that will convert into heat energy.

Which is the best chainsaw oil?

There are many oils on the market that are very good. I find Husqvarna Bar & Chain Oil works pretty well for me. But it’s up to personal preferences. You can use canola oil also as organic oil. Canola oil works very fine in the short term.


At last, you have to first know your conditions well. The above-mentioned oils have different properties. You have to utilize them with your condition. But trying all of them may give you more outcome to choose which one is best for you. I hope this article was useful in the field of your need.

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