May 6

5 Chainsaw Bar Oil Substitute Options

You’ve got your chainsaw, and you probably have some recommendations from the manufacturer on the bar oil you should use.

But what if you run out of it?

What if it’s not available anywhere near you? 

Or what if it’s not affordable?

You don’t need to worry as there are actually some alternatives for that.

We’ll go through the options but first, we need to know what to look for when buying a bar oil alternative.

​Top Choice


Crisco Pure Vegetable Oil, 1 Gallon, (Pack of 4)

Canola oil is eco-friendly and it works just fine in cold weather. One interesting feature is that it used to substitute engine oil, and two-cycle oil in machinery, which means that it’ll do the job for chainsaws

​4.7 of 5 Stars

Why Do You Need Oil for Your Chainsaw?

The oil works mainly as a lubricant. It reduces heat and friction and saves the chainsaw from being damaged.

Of the numerous parts that constitute a chainsaw, the bar and chain are the most vital. They’re connected to each other and their connection pretty much determines the speed and smoothness of your chainsaw.

Typically, with frequent usage, their movement generates friction that, in turn, needs lubrication to get back to normal and cut sharply.

What to Consider?

There are four main things that you need to keep in mind when looking for an alternative bar oil:

  • It has to be slippery enough to prevent wood chunks and tree sap from sticking to it.
  • It has to be sticky enough to ensure that it stays on the chain while working.
  • It has to be eco-friendly because we wouldn’t want to harm ourselves or the environment.
  •  It has to be thick in the cold weather, but light in the warm weather.

Substitute Options

There are 5 affordable options that you can go to instead of the original bar oil.

Motor Oil

If you already have a car, then that option suits you well because you must have motor oil somewhere. If not, it’s still a good option, since it’s accessible and affordable.

If it’s used oil then you should filter it before you use it, and make sure it’s warm. It will ensure the slipperiness and stickiness you’re looking for.

Motor oil seems like an effective option, the only downside though is that it’s petroleum-based, which means that it’s a non-degradable option.

It stays in the environment for years later.

    Our Recommendation: Valvoline SAE 10

Customers love using Valvoline motor oil. They say it's affordable with a perfect quality and they recommend using it in winter. However, in summer you should use Valvoline SAE 30.

Valvoline VR1 Racing SAE 10W-30 Motor Oil 1 QT, Case of 6

The product has zinc that adds extra protection to the metal. Some users recommend mixing motor oil with original bar oil for better results.

Vegetable Oil

That option would just require paying a visit to your kitchen. It’s also cheap. Why is it a good alternative?

Well, first it’s healthy, not only in the kitchen but also for the environment. It’s a degradable option which makes it eco-friendly. It’s a good choice when you have to use your chainsaw to cut a lamb or a deer for example. It won’t poison the meat.

Second, it has a high viscosity. While this is an important feature, it has a negative point because it makes it impossible to use vegetable oil as an alternative in the cold weather.

Some users say that if you’re not using your chainsaw regularly, then vegetable oil won’t be a good option since it gets sticky and dry over time while being preserved.

This product comes in a pack of 4, which is suitable because it tends to leak so you’ll need to have extra oil so as not to run out of it quickly.

Crisco Pure Vegetable Oil, 1 Gallon, (Pack of 4)

Canola Oil

It’s actually different from vegetable oil because it’s rapeseed-based, not vegetable-based. It’s thinner than vegetable oil too, and some people use it as a substitute for chainsaw bar oil.

Why is it a good option?

Canola oil is eco-friendly and it works just fine in cold weather.

One interesting feature is that it used to substitute engine oil, and two-cycle oil in machinery, which means that it’ll do the job for chainsaws.

    Our Recommendation: Cibaria NON-GMO

The 2-liter oil bottle should keep you, and your chainsaw, going for a long time. Users reported they prefer to use it for it’s lightweight and versatility. Besides, it produces minimal fumes. Hence, it’s safe for the environment.

The fact that it’s not genetically modified makes it perfect for cooking too. 2 in 1!

D'Italia Organic Sunflower Oil - 2 ltr.

Hydraulic Fluid

Hydraulic fluid can also be a substitute. It’s petroleum-based. It’s similar to motor oil, but with lower viscosity, which means that you might need to mix it with bar oil just to make sure it’s sticky enough.

It’s mainly used to avoid rustiness of vehicles. It’s biodegradable, yet it’s a bit harmful to the environment. Anyways, it’s less harmful than motor oil.

It works perfectly fin in all weathers and it’s affordable.

Pentosin CHF scores highly in a bunch of technicalities, friction control, traction control, and shock absorption. All these features make it a worthy investment.

Pentosin 1405116 CHF 11S Long-Life Synthetic Hydraulic Fluid for Audi, Bentley, BMW, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Porsche, Saab, Volkswagen, Volvo, and More; 1 Liter

Diesel Oil for Low Temperatures

When it’s freezing then diesel oil is what you should go for. It functions perfectly in low temperatures.

It’s not eco-friendly, like motor oil, but it’s still a nice option.

Users prefer mixing it with original bar oil for better results and they love how it works under extreme weather conditions.

Shell Rotella T6 Full Synthetic 5W-40 Diesel Engine Oil (1-Gallon, Single Pack, New Packaging)

Summing Up

Make sure that your chainsaw isn’t working while applying the oil, remove the battery first for more safety.

Try not to use old oil and always keep extra oil to replace it whenever in need.

I think that out of all the options we have, I prefer canola oil. It’s affordable and eco-friendly. It works in all kinds of weather, and you can get it easily online.

Also, try and check the components of the original recommended bar oil, this way you can pick the closest substitute to it.

About Me.

Hi, Jeremy Here, 

I am the the guy behind Cut The Timber. On this site, I share everything that learned and continue to learn about wood. From grains, to projects, to saws, and everything in between. 

I grew up camping with my family and ended up becoming an Eagle Scout. Currently, my family and I live on a ranch outside of Montana with tons of trees and fire pit fun. 

If you have any questions, feel free to email me:

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