Can I Use Regular Oil for Chainsaw Bar? (Ultimate Guide)

You might already know how important chainsaw bar oil is if you use a chainsaw. You might wonder can I use regular oil for chainsaw bar? 

Regular oil can be used effectively as a lubricant for chainsaw bars. It is because chainsaw bar oil isn’t rated by SAE Rating, unlike traditional motor oil. While summer and winter weights should be considered, SAE 30 should be used in the summer and SAE 10 in the winter. 

Now you might be wondering what is the SAE rating and why different weights are used for summer and winter. If we can use regular oils on chainsaw bars, what kind of oils may be suitable. But don’t worry, I’ve got you completely covered with my in-depth guide.

If you are interested in knowing answers to all of the above questions then keep on reading! 

Can I Use Regular Oil for Chainsaw Bar

Can I Use Regular Oil for Chainsaw Bar?

As mentioned earlier, yes, you can use regular oils as a lubricant for your chainsaw bar. In fact, there is a research paper that compares different lubricants for chainsaw bars. During this study, three different types of lubricants were tested for the chainsaw bar.

To find the correlation between wear, friction, and temperature, the mean guide bar temperature was used to measure the performance. These lubricants were petroleum-based bar and chain oil, biodegradable based oil, and petroleum-based motor oil.

During the results of this study, the authors found no correlation between the performance and the four-ball wear test. This concludes that a wide range of oils is suitable for chainsaw bars. 

Now that you have a rough idea about the use of regular oils for the chainsaw bars, let’s take a look at some other important things. 

What Is Sae Rating for Lubricants

SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) has been working hard in order to provide standardized tests for all types of oils such as automotive engine oils, hydraulic fluids, gear lube, and so forth. However, it didn’t include its standards for chainsaws until 1986. Since then, they have updated their standards several times. Nowadays, when discussing oils for your chainsaw bar, you need to pay attention to the following two requirements:

Category J – For application at temperatures up to 200°F or 93°C. The minimum pour point must be 40°F and the maximum flashpoint must be 325°F.

Category K – For applications at temperatures greater than 200°F or 92°C. The minimal viscosity index must be 70. The minimum pour point and maximum flashpoint must both be 45°F.

A mighty chainsaw resting after the job

Why Some Oils Are Rated Differently?

Some oils are rated differently from others. And the reason behind the difference lies in the quality of the ingredients. If an ingredient in a certain oil is not of good quality or doesn’t meet the required specifications, then the oil will not perform well.

Let’s look at some of the most commonly used oils and understand why those oils are rated differently.

Gasoline and Fuel Oils

The simplest form of lubrication comes from the use of gasoline and fuel oils. As fuels are highly flammable, they carry only a small amount of grease. Therefore, these kinds of oils are more sensitive to high temperatures.

So, if temperatures go up beyond their limits, the oil will burn easily. They also do not provide any protection against corrosion. Moreover, they cannot withstand extreme pressure. Their low thermal conductivity makes them inefficient in high heat applications.

Grade “A” Motor Oils

These are widely available around the world. They contain additives such as anti-wear agents, extreme pressure agents, antioxidants, detergents, and rust inhibitors. These oils are recommended for chainsaws with higher RPM ranges.

Professional Gear Lubes for Cylindrical Tooth

These are mainly offered by professional shops because they require superior quality. Because of the complex design, there are different grades available for these gears. Generally speaking, these gears are designed to run on very specialized applications. 

In case of damage or overloading conditions, their durability is lower than others. But, they come with special features like improved flow characteristics, reduced friction, increased operating temperature, and exceptional wear life.

Gear/Chain Oil

This kind of oil forms a film on the surface to prevent direct contact between moving parts. It reduces friction and aids in cooling down the moving parts. 

Also, it helps protect the chain by providing a barrier between the metal surfaces. It is specially formulated to reduce wear on teeth and links.

Summary of the Different Types of Oil Applicable for Chainsaw Bar

Since we have discussed the different kinds of oils which can be used while making chainsaw bars, let’s discuss what type of oil should be chosen during your chainsaw bar manufacturing process.

Generally, your choice depends upon the material you are using, its quality, your budget, etc.

Benefits of Using a Specific Type of Oil:

Low cost – Since a cheaper grade of oil is generally used for producing chainsaw bars, there will be lesser costs involved.

Quality – Quality chainsaw bars made out of cheap materials would have inferior performance. Hence, when buying chainsaw bars, always make sure that they are made out of durable material and quality tested.

Durability – When using a lower grade of oil, the chances of getting damaged are higher. For this, it is imperative to choose specific grades of oil. This is because they are better at resisting oxidation and other chemical effects.

Efficiency – Lower grade of oil doesn’t provide effective lubricant properties. Thus, when choosing chainsaw bars, one must select those having good quality oil. This ensures that the saw bar gets the maximum benefit from the oil and provides long-lasting service.

So, based on the above discussion, here is an overview of some types of oil commonly used for the production of chainsaw bars.

Types of Commonly Used Motor Oils & Chain Saw Bars:

In order to create chainsaw bars using high-quality materials, manufacturers use various types of motor oils. These are broadly categorized into two categories. They are conventional and synthetic oils. Here are some common types of oils and their advantages:

Viscosity Index

The viscosity index (VI) refers to the property of a fluid as a function of temperature.

It measures how much a substance flows or changes in consistency under specified conditions. VI is measured in units called degrees Fahrenheit (F).

For example, if the temperature rises from 90 F to 100 F, the mixture becomes more viscous or thick and is said to rise 1 degree F in Viscocity Index.

Conventional Motor Oils

These fluids are manufactured using crude petroleum fractions. Most of them are derived from light vacuum distillation processes. The term “conventional” means the process was done with heat. This makes these oils stable over time and resistant to heat and moisture damage.

However, they exhibit poor resistance against solvents and water. Besides, these fluids tend to contain additives like anti-wear agents, antioxidants, metal deactivators, detergents, pour point depressants, and rust inhibitors.

Synthetic Motor Oils

These fluids were created by altering the structure of traditional conventional motor oils. Synthetic motor oils are more expensive than conventional motor oils due to the fact that they need special manufacturing techniques and equipment.

There are no natural mineral constituents in these oils. Also, these oils cannot withstand extreme temperatures and are susceptible to oxidative degradation.

100 logs vs one chainsaw

Motor Oils With Heavy Weighted Top Fluid or Heavyweight Ingredients:

Motor Oils With Heavy Weighted Top Fluid Or Heavy Ingress Chemicals.

Heavy weighting top fluid gives your engine extra power. It reduces internal friction and allows easy starting even in cold weather conditions.

Heavy weighting chemicals add longevity to your engine.

But be careful not to use too much heavy-weighted fluid or chemicals, otherwise, you may end up having a problem that may lead to early engine failure.

Some Examples Of Motor Oils And Their Advantages/Disadvantages Are Given Below :

1. Castor Oil:

Castor oil is a very popular vegetable derivative which has been widely used as a motor oil base because it has less tendency towards contamination. Its main advantages are Noncorrosive, low cost, biodegradable, etc.

However, its major disadvantage is that it does not have any anti-wear effect at all. Therefore, when used alone as an engine lubricant, castor oil can cause excessive wear of critical parts such as piston rings and head gaskets.

2. Mineral Base Engine Oil :

This type of oil is derived from heavy crude oil or shale oil. It is considered to be one of the best-performing oils but also one of the most expensive types of oils available.

Compared to other grades, this type of oil has a higher viscosity, greater lubricity, better high-temperature performance, and improved oxidation resistance. The disadvantages include lack of resistance to many contaminants, high sulfur content, and susceptibility to the formation of sludge.

3. Synthetic Base Engine Oil :

Most synthetic oils have good lubricating properties and excellent fuel economy. They do require additional filtration, however. Some of the common types of synthetic motor oils are mineral oil, 100% biodiesel (B100), polyol esters (POE) & alkylated aromatic (PAO). But still, there are some problems associated with these oils:-

a. POE

The quality of polyol ester oil depends on the purity of reactants. When contaminated during synthesis, POEs form acidic compounds that can deteriorate seals, bearings, hydraulic systems, filters, and injectors. Also, they are sensitive to air oxidization resulting in increased acidity and smoke emissions.

b. PAO

Polyalkylated aromatics (PAOs) are highly compatible with metal surfaces and offer superior protection from extreme temperature conditions. However, the same characteristics make them vulnerable to heat deterioration and air oxidation.

c. Biodiesel 

Biodiesels contain oxygen atoms in addition to hydrocarbons. This makes them prone to auto-ignition and can increase the smoke emission level by 1–5%.

d. 100% Biodiesel 

B100 is a biofuel-based product. As it contains no petroleum components, the chances of causing corrosion are minimal. e. The most important advantage of using 100% biodiesel as engine oil is its ability to reduce carbon monoxide emissions.

4. Diesel Fuel / Gasoline :

Diesel fuel is pure gasoline without the ethane component. Although not always as efficient as conventional fuels per unit volume, diesel engines operate more efficiently than spark-ignition engines due to their compression ratios.

Gasoline is normally composed of several organic chemical compounds. In the case of kerosene, benzene, naphthalene, and toluene contribute to the majority of the composition. All of these components are known to be toxic if inhaled or ingested.

When mixed together, the percentage of each compound will depend upon the proportions in the blend tank and the way they are dispersed.

What Can I Use Instead of Chainsaw Oil?

To start your search, you may want to ask yourself what kind of work you’re doing with wood today. If you’re cutting down trees with a backhoe or excavator, then you should choose a base fluid based on your working environment.

For example, oil products like mineral oil or diesel fuel could corrode metal parts and cause fire hazards. On the other hand, non-oil-based fluids like water or even alcohol might be ineffective at removing debris or protecting machinery.

Ultimately, you need an oil that’s suitable for almost any job you’ll ever encounter while using chain saws.

Can You Use 10w30 for Bar and Chain Oil?

10W30 and 10W40 are different things. 10W30 is a viscosity grade used in automotive applications and is specifically designed for the higher viscosities found in gear boxes. It has high lubrication qualities which makes it ideal for this application.

It is a very thin oil compared to 5W50 or 12W70 motor oils. These thicker oils provide better lubrication but are less suitable for certain uses such as gearbox service.

In order to determine whether you need 10W30 or not you must first consult your owner’s manual regarding your specific equipment as some manufacturers do not recommend this type of oil for their chainsaws. 

Can You Use Engine Oil as Bar Oil

Engine oils are usually made using synthetic blends, so they have a different molecular makeup to other types of oils. They also tend to be heavier in weight because there are additives added to boost performance and prolong the life of the engine.

Engine oils are also formulated to meet certain standards set out by governing bodies (such as OEI) regarding various properties such as heat stability, oxidation, antiwear and extreme pressure.

However, engine oils are generally unsuitable when it comes to outdoor use because of their inability to withstand weathering effects. This means that they will oxidize faster when exposed to atmospheric air, making them lose many of their desired properties.

If you were to use engine oil directly on the bar in place of regular chain saw oil the chances are it would end up being too thick, greasy, oily, dirty, and messy to handle properly.

To avoid having all of those problems when it comes time to clean off your bar, you’ll probably want to change into your protective clothing before you begin cleaning it.

You don’t really need a special oil for the bar and chain. Any sort of standard pump grease should serve just fine. Remember though, if you find yourself needing a high-quality bar oil in the future, keep this advice in mind: “Always buy quality.”

There are plenty of cheap alternatives out there, but good stuff costs more than the average homeowner wants to spend.

Can I Use 5w30 for Chainsaw Bar?

5W30 is a viscoelastic ester oil manufactured from a blend of natural fats and vegetable oils. There’s no real scientific difference between it and 5W40 but the latter offers a slightly greater degree of protection against wear, so it’s preferable for heavy-duty uses such as cutting timber.

As the name suggests, 5W30 is a softer oil with lower viscosity — i.e. it flows easily. That means that it can flow past any obstructions inside its container and reach every point where the blade touches the metal bar.

chainsaw before action

When you’re done using the chain saw and start pulling it apart, you won’t have to worry about the oil getting everywhere else. You just wipe down the outside of the bar with a rag or towel, and let the excess run back into the bottle.

While you could use 100% mineral oil instead of a non-synthetic mixture, it wouldn’t contain the same amount of lubricating agents as the synthetic varieties. Its lack of chemicals will make it less effective at protecting against rust, corrosion, and other forms of erosion.

For instance, it won’t protect very well over cast iron, aluminum, and stainless steel surfaces. It will also dry much slower than a synthetic variety, which means it might not coat the bars as thoroughly as needed.

Can I Use WD40 as Chainsaw Oil?

WD40 is technically an aerosol spray cleaner. However, it was invented by 3M in 1945, so it’s now a household name. Originally intended for use around trucks and tractors, people started applying it to almost everything they found that came near a moving part or was likely to be damaged.

It’s since become one of the most popular automotive repair products available today — even among DIY enthusiasts. Unfortunately, as a result of its popularity, it has also been used for a wide array of purposes including home repairs.

If you use WD-40 for your chainsaw bar, you must still follow the instructions to remove any excess product that may get onto the surface. In addition, it doesn’t offer much protection against dust particles and airborne grime, so you still need to clean up after your work.

The main reason why many folks turn to WD-40 for their chainsaws is that it dries quickly. When you apply it directly to a problem area, it does a great job of sealing the crack or hole in place, preventing moisture and dust from getting through. This works quite well on certain types of wood, but it isn’t always as effective when you cut branches or trees.

The quick-drying time is also the reason why WD-40 isn’t recommended for outdoor use. It will evaporate if exposed to sunlight. If you want to keep your saw running longer during the summer months, you’ll need something different like a wax product.

To determine whether or not this applies to you, you should know two things: what type of saw you own, and how long you plan on using it outdoors. 

Last Minute Thoughts

If you’ve made it this far, I am sure you will have got answers to all of your questions specifically about “Can I Use Regular Oil for Chainsaw Bar?“. To conclude the whole article in simple and easy words, yes, you can use regular oil for chainsaw bars. 

However, it is better to consider different weights for the oil according to season. To be more specific, SAE 30 is suitable for summer while SAE 10 is suitable for the winter season. 

I hope you find this article helpful. If you enjoyed reading, please share it with your friends and family to let them know too!

Thank you for reading!

Happy woodworking!


  1. An Evaluation of the Performance of Chainsaw Lubricants
  2. The Effect of Lubricating Oil on Temperature of Chainsaw Cutting System
  3. Chainsaw know how – part 2
  4. Vegetable Oil Based Lubricants and their Application 

Similar Posts