Chainsaw Bar Oil Substitute – Detailed Manual

Chainsaw Bar Oil Substitute - 15 Helpful Tips

To increase the service life of your chainsaw, you not only need to know how to operate the tool properly, but also know how to prepare the fuel mixture. All chainsaws equipped with two-stroke internal combustion engines work exclusively on the fuel component based on gasoline and a chainsaw bar oil substitute.

This is due to the absence of an chain oil sump in the two-stroke engine that a chainsaw bar oil substitute should be used. From the first day of use of the unit, it is necessary to find out the exact proportions of bar and chain oil and gasoline for the chainsaw in order to increase the service life of the motor.

Types of Motor Oil


Among the great variety of lubricants, we can distinguish three large groups, which differ both in composition and characteristics:

  • Mineral
  • Semi-synthetic
  • Synthetic

Mineral bar and chain oils

One of the cheapest and most common. They are produced during the processing of petroleum products. Many saws run on mineral chain oil for quite a long time. Its main advantage is the price and availability. True, you can’t buy a good pure substance for pennies either. The “mineral oil” can smoke inside of an engine with a lapse of time.

However, if the owner is handy, he can clean all the “insides” himself from the transmission fluid leftovers if he will know how to clean a chainsaw. According to experienced “sawyers”, with rare and not too intensive use of the unit, the mineral component is quite enough for normal operation.

Synthetic bar and chain oil

For two-stroke engines is made from artificially created components. Industrial synthesis gives the indicators unattainable with mineral bar and chain oil. Synthetics bar and chain oil is not afraid of cold, heat or temperature fluctuations from low temperatures to high. In addition, it forms much less soot. It is recommended for using in professional equipment. At sawmill, where tools work for 8-10 hours practically without a break the highest quality is the only way to keep productivity.

Semi-synthetic substitute chainsaw oils are a compromise solution for those who can’t afford pure synthetic, but the class of the tool doesn’t allow them to add “mineral” to gasoline. It is made on the basis of petroleum products, but has special additives that improve the performance of the substance.

Why Chainsaws Need to Be Filled With a Mixture of Gasoline And Bar And Chain Oil

Why it is contraindicated to fill the tank of the unit with gasoline without hydraulic fluids, and what will happen if you make a mistake and add bar oil or a chainsaw bar oil substitute? The reason for the need to dilute gasoline with bar and chain oil is hidden in the fact that two-stroke engines do not have an bar oil chamber, as on four-stroke devices. The absence of this chamber leads to the fact that the rotating and rubbing metal bar and chain parts of the engine as well as chainsaw chains do not receive lubrication, so the following drawbacks are observed:

  • The frictional force increases, which means there is rapid wear and tear on parts.
  • The low temperatures increase to high due to the friction force, which also negatively affects the service life of the internal combustion engine.
  • The load increases, so there is a significant loss of power and performance.

Standard bar oil or oil substitutes is added to the gasoline of the chainsaw to prevent the above-mentioned processes from developing. If you pour pure gasoline into the tank of the machine and start the engine, then in a short period of time it will simply overheat and jam. That is why when buying a tool, it is important not only to find out how to start a chainsaw and work the chainsaw, but also to understand the ratios of gasoline to oil or chainsaw bar oil substitutes like canola oil.

Why You Need to Stick to The Proper Proportions When Mixing

chainsaw bar oil substitute

Having determined in the question of the need to mix gasoline and bar oil (or chainsaw bar oil substitutes like canola oil) in a chainsaw, it will be necessary to figure out why it is necessary to adhere to the appropriate proportions when applying proper lubrication to the chainsaw.

If you pour gasoline with a low chain oil composition, it will contribute to the development of all the above-mentioned consequences – overheating of the motor, the occurrence of scuffing on the cylinder and jamming of the internal combustion engine. Only in this case, the engine will work a little longer than on pure gasoline.

If you pour fuel with high gear oil content into the tank, it is also dangerous, because in this case, in addition to the strong smoke, there will be a deposit of soot on the cylinder walls, muffler and other parts. There will be a decrease in power, and a decrease in the performance of the unit. In this case, the engine will work longer, and if deposits appear, they can be removed.

To exclude negative consequences, and at the same time increase the service life of the tool, it is recommended to understand how much oil or chainsaw bar oil substitutes (for example vegetable oils like canola oil) should be added to gasoline for gasoline chainsaw in order to achieve ideal operation of the motor.

What Gasoline And Bar Oil Is Suitable For The Tool

Among sawyers there are different opinions about the use of appropriate gasoline. Some recommend pouring fuel brand AI-92, others argue that you should use fuel with the octane number AI-95.

Now it is time to do all the “i “s. All chainsaws operate on gasoline with an octane number from 90 to 95. However, it is recommended to give preference to the fuel brand AI-92. The exception is when the manufacturer gives a recommendation on what kind of gasoline is better to use.

The most important requirement when using fuel is that it must be clean and free of impurities.

Bar And Chain Oil to Gasoline Ratio Or How to Remember The Proportion

oil substitute

The most correct proportion of the combination of gasoline and gear oil is the value specified by the manufacturer. If you bought a chainsaw, do not be lazy to open the manual, and find the recommendation from the manufacturer – how much gear oil per liter of gasoline to mix into the chainsaw.

These recommendations are present in the technical documentation for the machine. However, many people often lose the instructions, so you have to ask for help from acquaintances or the Internet.

If you do not know how much gear oil to add to gasoline when preparing fuel, then you should use universal data. Such data provides the following ratio – 1 to 50 or 1 to 40.

What does it mean? Let’s understand this in detail.

The proportion 1 to 50 says that 20 ml of alternative bar oil should be added to 1 liter of gasoline. The proportion 1 to 40 is characterized by the use of 25 ml of bar oil per 1 liter of gasoline. Why are the two universal values indicated? Everything depends on the time of year, so if the tool is operated in summer, 20 ml of oil or chainsaw bar oil alternative (for example vegetable oils like canola oil) is added to 1 liter of gasoline, and if in winter, 25 ml.

It is easy to remember this proportion, for which you can use a marker to mark on the plastic body of the tool. Below is a table of oil or chainsaw bar oil alternative (for example vegetable oils like canola oil) to gasoline ratios for chainsaws. Ratios of 1 to 35, 1 to 30 and 1 to 25 are appropriate for high power machines.

Instructions For Making a Fuel Mixture

Let’s find out how the dilution of gasoline with bar oil or vegetable oils is done in more detail. Some tool owners do so – pour pure gasoline into the tank, and add the required amount of oil. After that, they close the lid, and stir it. This way of diluting gasoline with gear oil is wrong. The instructions for preparing a gasoline and engine oil mixture are as follows:

  • You need to take a plastic bottle of equal volume – 1 or 2 liters. You can use a 1.5-liter bottle, but this way you can get confused when adding oil or chainsaw bar oil alternative like canola oil.
  • Fill the container halfway with gasoline.
  • Add the lubricant. It is advisable to dose the hydraulic fluid with a syringe. It is desirable to use a 5 cc syringe, which will allow you to measure exactly 25 ml of oil. You can also add any other chain oil substitute to your oil reservoir, such as alternative vegetable oils (canola oils, soybean oil, rapeseed oil and sunflower oils) or any other alternative bar oils (hydraulic oil, gear oil).
  • After adding regular chainsaw bar oil or substitute bar oil to the container, shake thoroughly.
  • Add gasoline to the chain oil substitute until the container is full, and stir again thoroughly.
  • You get a ready-to-use gasoline and chain bar oil mixture for the chainsaw (with a chain oil substitute or bar oil substitute), which should be used within 1-2 weeks.

Many people do not pay proper attention to the storage of the prepared mixture of gasoline and traditional motor oil or electric chainsaw oil substitutes (like olive oil), and so they can prepare 5 liters at once and use it for a year. However, this approach is extremely wrong, since the shelf life of the ready mix is 15 days.

If you are sure that the gasoline does not contain alcohol, you can store the ready mix for longer – up to 3 months. After that, the mixture loses its properties, having a negative effect on the internal combustion engine.

After combining the gasoline with the bar oil substitute (like olive oil) or traditional motor oil and hydraulic oil, all that remains is to fill up the tool, and then you can begin to use it. When filling up a chainsaw, there are some important points that must be taken into account. In them we will understand.

How to Properly Fuel a Chainsaw With a Gasoline-oil Mixture

oil Petroleum

Freshly prepared mixture of gasoline and regular chain oil, canola oil or olive oil should be stored in a dark room, but not more than 2 weeks. It is best to carry out mixing just before using the tool. The filling procedure is realized by performing the following manipulations:

  • Before unscrewing the lid of the oil reservoir, it is necessary to clean the surface, or better yet, blow with a hose from a compressor.
  • Put the chainsaw on its side so that the lid is on top. In this case, take into account one important point, that it is necessary to carry out refueling not in the wind to prevent ingress of dust and other contaminants in the chain and bar oil tank.
  • Put a spot on the neck, which will eliminate the possibility of fuel spillage.
  • Fill the tank with chain and bar oil, but do so in a way that leaves room. This is done to avoid the possibility of gasoline leaking when the cap is screwed on.
  • After filling up the chain saw, be sure to fill the bar oil reservoir to lubricate the chain. Make sure not to leave any oil stains.
  • Start the engine and make sure it is functioning properly. Smoke should come out of the chainsaw in a light color and in voluminous quantity only at higher revolutions.

Choosing Two-stroke Bar Oil For a Chainsaw

Having determined the question of how to dilute gasoline with hydraulic fluid in a chainsaw, it is worth figuring out what kind of lubricant is better to use. To begin with, it is necessary to understand that mixing fuel is required only with two-stroke oils, but in no way motor oil for car engines, and even more so, waste oil.

Special oils are called as such – two-stroke oils. Their color can be not only red, but also green and blue. The red color indicates that it is mineral (the cheapest). Blue and green are semi-synthetics. Semi-synthetics are naturally better, but when it comes to disposable use (i.e., when the grease burns with the gasoline, mineral oil is a better option in terms of cost and reliability).

The color of the hydraulic fluid also indicates the use of appropriate additives, but most importantly, you should choose a lubricant from reputable manufacturers. You can tell by the color that the fuel is mixed with the lubricant.

If you are told when buying expensive oils that you are overpaying for the brand, you are. Only you are also paying for a guarantee that the substance you buy is of high quality, and has only a positive effect on the engine of the bar and chain. There is no need to look for cheaper options, because by saving on fuel and lubricants, you reduce the life of the engine and the tool as a whole.

Changing The Bar Oil In New Models

Changing Oil

New chainsaw models have two valves on the side and bottom of the engine. The lower one drains the waste and the side one fills with new hydraulic fluid. The difficulty is that most of the time the engine in new models is completely covered with plastic sheeting.

Before you renew the lubricant, remove all the plastic completely. Unscrew the lower valve and allow the old bar oil to drain completely. Be extremely careful. Drain the waste into a pre-prepared container. If it gets on the ground, it will poison the soil.

When all is drained, screw the bottom valve and pour new oil into the side. For these chainsaws, auto parts store sells a special two-stroke motor oil, which is designed only for them. Such oil has a softening and cleansing effect, which has a positive effect on the technique and prolongs its “life”. This oil should be changed after two or three seasons. As in the previous case, it depends on the degree of use of the bar and chain chainsaw.

Check also How to store chainsaw.

Choosing For The Motor Oil

Standard machine oils give off a lot of combustion products, which are then deposited on the crankcase surface and can quickly ruin the chainsaw engine.

To keep the bar and chain running as long as possible, you should buy lubricants with a low ash mass fraction.

It is easy to get lost in the large range of lubricants. Many companies-manufacturers insist that for their saws to use oil of the same company. For example, for Stihl or Husqvarna garden tools, manufacturer’s recommended bar oil works best.

Saw manufacturers do not take the responsibility to guarantee that the tool will work properly on a different brand of oil. But this does not mean that the saw will immediately break down after using the “wrong oil”.

In this matter, it is better to trust the recommendations of the manufacturer in terms of hydraulic oil. If the manual mentions a specific brand – use it. If there is no specifics – you can safely mix fuel with any two-stroke oil.

Judging by the experience of many sawyers, it is better to buy materials from well-known high oil viscosity, high flash point chain and bar oil manufacturers – Makita, Husqvarna, Echo, Stihl. Also good quality, high flash point products from companies that specialize in the production of fuel and lubricants, like Ravenol.

Useful Information: Vegetable Oil to Replace Chainsaw Bar Oil

In this video you will find what you can do if the oil constantly sprayed out of a chainsaw.

It will also be useful for you to read the article Can I use 10w40 for chainsaw bar oil? What can be used?

Features Of Bar And Chain Oil

chainsaw Husqvarna

Most oils are prone to combustion because they contain hydrocarbons. Mineral oil is a product of vegetable oil distillation. However, four-stroke engines are equipped with special mechanisms that prevent the lubricant from penetrating into the cylinders. The reverse process, when the engine “eats oil”, leads to increased smoke production and is considered a malfunction.

In a two-stroke engine, it’s the other way around – the vegetable oil, canola oil for example (or other vegetable oils like soybean oil or sunflower oil), has to penetrate into the combustion chamber and turn into smoke from the exhaust system. This has led to a number of fairly stringent requirements for good chainsaw oil:

  • Maximum complete combustion. The less smoke and soot produced by the combustion of the oil, the cleaner the channels through which the exhaust gases pass. A very important requirement for manufacturers of two-stroke vegetable oil like canola oil or sunflower oil
    is that it is environmentally friendly. A lot of smoke and soot coming out of the exhaust pipe can not only be harmful to the environment. It is inhaled to one degree or another by the operator wielding the tool. That is why oil that burns completely and with as little smoke as possible is preferred in modern chainsaws due to the fact that it is environmentally friendly.
  • Purity and cleanliness. The dimensions of a chainsaw carburetor are miniaturized. The channels through which the fuel mixture moves are so narrow that various foreign substances can partially block or even clog them.
  • Combustion of the vegetable oil/gasoline mixture must be as fouled as possible. Otherwise, during operation at high speeds the working cylinder gets caked: the soot covers the walls of the combustion chamber and the piston, and leads to wear of the cylinder surface. Operation of such engine becomes not only undesirable, but even dangerous.
  • Vegetable oil like canola oil should not only lubricate but also clean the interacting. To a greater extent, this applies to synthetic fluids, the performance characteristics of which are among the best on the market.
  • Chainsaw oil for two-stroke engines manufacturers make colored. When dissolved in gasoline, it colors it pale pink or red. This way the operator can easily check if he (or one of his crew) forgot to prepare the mixture in the right proportion.

Consequences Of Using Low-Quality Bar Oil

Serious chainsaw manufacturers indicate directly in the instructions of their products what chainsaw oil or substitute oil to use with the device. Naturally, the accompanying products will have the same brand. This is not only a marketing move, but also a sound recommendation. Companies that have been making saws for many years have sufficient production capacity and produce really good oils.

For many domestic chainsaw models, there is no such advice in terms of hydraulic fluids. The user equips the gas tank at his discretion. And here, too, it is better to choose a quality product, tested by thousands of owners of gasoline units.

Even an inexpensive saw with the right modes of operation and competent selection of consumables can last more than one year. And vice versa: a no-name chainsaw oil or alternative bar oil substitute of unknown composition can “kill” even a good Stihl or Husqvarna piston group.

If the bar and chain exhaust system becomes clogged with soot and carbon black particles, the engine’s power will inevitably drop if you use drained motor oil or used motor oil. Blowing the combustion chamber can no longer be carried out as intensively, most of the exhaust gases remain in the cylinder and the fuel pump does not have enough power to pump the right amount of mixture.

Incomplete combustion of the chain lubricant (chainsaw bar oil or substitute oil) component in the gasoline leads to deposits of soot and carbon deposits in the cylinder and on the bottom of the piston. Poor flow characteristics of used engine oil or other oils, either low-grade substitute oils or bar oils lead to heating up of the cylinder and piston group, during which scuffing may occur on the surface of the working parts.

After several cycles, the piston may have to be replaced due to extreme heat and you may have to use the manufacturer’s warranty to get a replacement.

What To Lubricate The Bar And Chain With

Changing Oil

The most effective agents are considered lubricants with a high degree of adhesion. To save money, some users may choose to use chainsaw bar and chain oil. This will use up more quickly and is less effective at lubricating bar and chain.

Special chain oils, on the other hand, have adhesive components that lubricate bar and chain well and adhere to the surface as tightly as possible. The thicker the motor oil adheres, the less it is lost in operation and the longer the saw will run.

Chainsaw bar oil or chain oil substitutes quality criteria for:

  • A good degree of grip. You need to drop a few drops of oil on your fingers, squeeze them firmly, and spread them apart. Adhesive motor oil will pull a film between your fingers. The other types of chainsaw bar oil will simply lubricate the skin.
  • The more fluid the motor oil, the higher its consumption. From experience we can say that thicker and therefore more economical is the Stihl motor oil. Thicker oil or alternative oil is slower, but penetrates in hard-to-reach areas of the chain slower and freezes up very quickly in the cold. Thinner oils penetrate better but disperse faster because of centrifugal force.
  • Environmental friendliness. To minimize damage to the environment, it is advisable to choose a plant-based chainsaw bar oil that can decompose after use.

How Much To Use Bar Oil

There is a special tank for lubricating bar and chain. Chainsaw bar oil should be filled to the neck. If you need to refill the product, it is better to do it while refueling the chainsaw. If you use up a full tank of fuel, you usually have some motor oil left. But if you don’t refill it, the oil will be used up before you run out of gas and the chain will overheat.

Normally, the saw’s instruction manual will tell you how much motor oil you need for lubrication of bar and chain. But depending on the situation, the actual amount of chainsaw hydraulic fluid may vary. In cold weather, for example, it is better to lubricate the chain with chainsaw bar oil that has a low thickening point or the oil pump can break.

If such chainsaw bars oil is not available, you can add a little dehydrated kerosene to normal oil. Chainsaw bars will become more fluid but its lubricity will be reduced, so you should not work the saw as hard at this time.

Before you work with the saw, you should turn it on and let it run idle for 5-10 minutes – it takes time for the motor oil to get into the chain and seep through its components.

Tips From Experienced Sawyers About Bar Oil

  • In order not to run into a counterfeit, you should check with the seller of the bar oils for a certificate that he is an official representative of the brand.
  • Do not use used chainsaw bar oil, diesel or sunflower motor oil for the saw. Utilizing used hydraulic fluid results in harmful fumes when the chainsaw is working at high speeds, which regular oil and other substitute oils don’t produce.
  • It is categorically forbidden to add individual fuel additives, chain oil substitutes or used motor oil. It is difficult to predict how they will interact with the rest of the chainsaw bar oil components.
  • Do not mix transmission fluid of different bar and chain or different compositions. It is cheaper to pour out the leftovers and pour in a new one.
  • Motor oil is specially painted in bright colors, so that when mixed with fuel the color of gasoline changes. This allows you to see if motor oil has been added to the gasoline.

Also read the article: How We Understand When To Replace Chainsaw Chain.

Serg Cooper
( 2 assessment, average 5 from 5 )
Choose your best chainsaw
Comments: 4
  1. Keith Crowell

    Natural chainsaw bar oil substitute – I think a good alternative. But it is important to be care as modern motor oils usually have special additives to prevent sludge and gum. I consider that ordinary oil does not have such benefits.

  2. Corey L. McDonald

    Yes, the last tips about rules as for the bar and chain oil substitute are really helpful – “Do not use used oil, diesel or sunflower motor oil for the saw” – it id better to pay more money for the suitable oil than pay money for fixing the expensive tool. It is not a joke…

  3. Justine Clapton

    In Germany most people use “organic” bar oil. It’s 97% canola and 3% other stuff to make it more sticky.

  4. David

    Canola oil is not a good lubricating oil. However if you have nothing else it’s better than nothing. The cheapest engine oil is fine providing it has a similar thickness.

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