Your Guide to Buying Blade Lubricant Oil for a Chainsaw

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Your Guide to Buying Blade Lubricant Oil for a Chainsaw

NEVER substitute used motor oil for proprietary bar-and-chain oil. The high-tack additive in proprietary brands keeps the oil in the groove and prevents spray deposits being slung from the chain onto clothing, boots and machinery or visors/windows as it moves around the tip.

Blade Lubricant/Bar-and-Chain Oil – Essential Information

Using a chainsaw is a dangerous activity and requires skill and awareness. Those working with the tool regularly understand that keeping the machine in good working order is essential for safety and efficient use. Part of the chainsaw requiring regular maintenance is the bar-and-chain, which is lubricated by oil and is served by an oil tank – not to be confused with a petrol/oil fuel container. The right chain oil will equip the chainsaw for good service, clean operation and safe use for the operator and the environment. A typical composition of proprietary chainsaw oil will be a highly refined blend of mineral oils that contain oxidation inhibitors and anti-wear corrosion with supplementary tackifier. The product illustrated below has >50% (CEC L-33-T-82) and ISO VG 100 viscosity grade @ 40 deg C.



Boiling point

Pour point

Flash point

Limits of Flammability

Relative density

Water solubility

Pale – dark amber colour

Typical mineral oil

>280 deg C

-27 deg C

210 deg C (closed)

Upper: 10% vol Lower: 1% vol

  1. 876

@ 20 deg C

Very low

Whenever chainsaws are worked, the environment sucks up nearly all the lubricant used in their operation, either from evaporation or through spillage spray or 'misting'. In the forestry industry this is major concern as the large-scale felling and cutting operations result in thousands of gallons annually being deposited. Exposure to petroleum-based oils has shown in some instances an adverse health effect on users, for those concerned with occupational health as well as the environment, an environmentally friendly alternative is desirable. Rapeseed-based oils, non-toxic and displaying rapid biodegradation when spilled, are the most commonly available chain/bar lubricants that are compatible with the environment at present.

Types of Biodegradable Oils

Biodegradable means that ‘mineralisation’ has taken place – the product has broken down to its base elements.

Readily Biodegradable Vegetable Oil

Lacks capability at low and high temperature. Cold starting, this oil has slow flow and the oxidative instability in readily biodegradable oil fails to provide the best equipment protection. More expensive than an ‘inherently’ biodegradable mineral oil. Best type of oil for non-toxic and biodegradable properties.

Inherently Biodegradable Mineral Oil

Slower rate of biodegradation than vegetable oils. Better performance capability at low and high temperature. Better oxidative stability means inherently biodegradable mineral oil provides better equipment protection and thus a longer service life. Less expensive than readily biodegradable versions of oil .

Readily Biodegradable Synthetic (Polyol Ester) Oil

Best equipment protection of the biodegradable oils. Offer environmental protection. More expensive than an ‘inherently’ biodegradable oil.

Safety for Workers and for the Environment

Manufacturers of chainsaw oil supply Safety Data Sheets which list everything needed for understanding the product. These are useful for comparison between products and to identify the level of biodegradability and any potential hazards. It will list product name, product type, application, viscosity grade, and quality level where applicable. Following that will be a list with recommendations and any regulations that govern the use and/or disposal of the product. Ingredient composition/information. Hazard identification. First-aid measures. Fire-fighting measures. Accidental release measures. Handling and storage. Personal protection/Exposure control. Physical and chemical properties. Stability and reactivity. Disposal considerations [Controlled waste]. Toxicological information [Personal Hazards: eyes/skin/inhalation/ingestion]. Ecological information [Biodegradability/Leaching/Penetration/Effects on aquatic life]. Transport information [Not hazardous for transportation]. Regulatory information [EC Directives and Statutory Instruments]. Other information [Codes of Practice/Precautions].

Comparing Petroleum-based Oil and Vegetable-based Oil

Users of vegetable-based oils have found that these products show disadvantage compared to petroleum based oils when used in cold-temperatures and that they require additives to overcome difficulties pertaining to oxidation stability also. They function well in temperatures as low as -13 degrees F though they may display pouring difficulty after storage/standing at -22 degrees F for several days. However, this inconvenience is offset by its high flash point, good lubrication properties, resistance to shear, and its highly rated viscosity index. Generally, vegetable oils work out at twice the price of petroleum-based oils, but their environmental impact is much less and a major consideration when large projects demand sensitivity to river areas, nature trails and suchlike where financial penalties discourage environmental damage. The Coordinating European Council’s (CEC) test standard for bio-degradability (CEC-L-33-T-82) is a measure of oil’s biodegradable ability over 21 days. Products showing CEC labelling mean a portion of the product is bio-degradable material though it does not give the percentage of complete bio-degradability over 21 days. Mineral-based additives and oils may be present in the product. Petroleum-based oils are banned in Austria. In Germany and Scandinavia they are becoming more popular with over 80 brands on the market. North America too has canola (rapeseed-based) chainsaw oils commercially available. Extensive testing in Europe, since the 1980s, shows exceptional lubricating properties with some studies revealing to 40 percent consumption reduction without compromising the longevity of the saw’s bar-and-chain. These findings, similarly found in FERIC’s (Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada) field trials using Binol (a Swedish product) for both mechanical and manual harvesting operations, suggest that the satisfactory consumption performance makes the relative expense regarding mineral oil approximately 20 percent. Furthermore, this 20 percent may be recouped through increased bar-and-chain longevity. In comparison with petroleum-based oil, operators of Rottne harvesters also noted the windows of the machine collected substantially less oil mist primarily due to the reduced consumption and the oil’s cleanliness. Another small-scale trial in Wyoming’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest also concluded the efficacy of the vegetable-based oil in chainsaw usage though it saw no significant reduction in wear on the bar-and –chain. The user was impressed that there were no puddle prisms in the water from any oil spray.

How to Find Blade Lubricant Oil for a Chainsaw on eBay

There are two ways to find items on eBay; either by visiting the Categories on the homepage, or typing a search into the uppermost box on any other open page on the site and clicking GO. If using the homepage, a click on the arrow beside Categories will offer places to visit. Read through and select the most likely place – for Blade Lubricant Oil the best place to choose is Home & Garden where DIY will reveal Power Tools. Click on Other Power Tools for a selection of items including chainsaws and accessories. In the search box, type: chainsaw oil and read the related searches for the ideal match. Names such as the following will appear: chainsaw chain oil, chainsaw bar oil, chainsaw oil 5l, Stihl chainsaw oil, chainsaw oil 5 litre, chainsaw oil 25l or 5l chain saw oil. The Categories box on this page will show other locations on the site where the product is listed, for example Power Tools & Equipment, Hand Tools & Equipment, Lawnmowers, Other Garden & Patio. From the search box at the top of any page, type in ‘chainsaw oil’ and the site will offer alternatives for choice. Remember that blade lubricant oil, or chainsaw oil, chain oil or chain bar & blade oil is not fuel oil, so read listings carefully. Some listings include dual packages with both products; some are manufacturer specific and offer express delivery. Sizes are available from 1 litre to 25 litre to suit every requirement.


As government directives move towards greener policies regarding the environment, readily and inherently biodegradable oils will become more commonplace. There has already been many years’ work behind developing blade lubricant oils to serve the industries where the product is required. Prices differ between vegetable-based and petroleum-based oil lubricants though there are pros and cons for each product which the user is made aware of in this guide. In the UK it is unlikely that operators of chainsaws will face temperatures below -22 degrees C when the pour point of vegetable-based oils is compromised. Of course, that might be the very condition when saws are occasioned for use when there has been a winter storm and trees have fallen, which need to be cleared from blocking roads. In that instance, the petroleum-based oil would off better service. There is room for using both types of blade lubricant – except of course in countries where petroleum-based oils are banned. Know where the work will take place, what sorts of considerations are important to the operative and to the budget, and buy accordingly. There is no specific oil for specific tools, though manufacturers may recommend their own product. Remember – never substitute used motor oil as a cheap alternative for a proprietary branded product.

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