Can I Use 5w30 for Chainsaw Bar Oil? Is It Safe?

Can I Use 5w30 for Chainsaw Bar Oil?

I can’t recall how often I’ve run out of chainsaw bar oil while cutting firewood in my backyard. Most of the time, I have always had 5w30 oil lying around, which I use as a substitute. It works out fine, but after researching, I learned that you shouldn’t make it a habit.

In the winter, it works fine since it tends to flow well around the chain and bar, thus providing the lubrication I usually need. However, in the summer, when temperatures are very high, it just tends to fling off the bar no matter how much of it I put.

can i use 5w30 for chainsaw bar oil

5w30 oil looks similar to chainsaw bar oil, although it is way thicker and more consistent. Chainsaw bar oil also possesses different characteristics from 5w30 oil, making it a better lubricant.

If you’re searching for the answer to, “Can I use 5w30 or chainsaw bar oil?” you’ve come to the right place. In this post, I will also dive deeper into the differences between 5w30 and chainsaw bar oil and its suitability as a substitute, so keep reading.

What is 5w30 Motor Oil?

What is 5w30 Motor Oil

5w30 motor oil is used primarily in internal combustion engines of automobiles and other machinery. Its main function is lubricating moving parts such as pistons and crankshafts.

This oil is usually classified as multigrade motor oil, which operates well in high and low temperatures. The “5w30” refers to the oil’s viscosity rating in different weather/ operating conditions.

“5” indicates that the oil has a low viscosity in cold weather or when temperatures are low; the “w” means winter. This will be useful when operating your chainsaw in cold weather conditions because it ensures the oil can quickly reach all engine components.

The “30”, on the other hand, shows that the oil has a higher viscosity rating when the weather is hot. This enables it to maintain its lubricating properties even when the temperatures are high. Generally, 5w30 oil can operate over a wide range of temperatures.

What is the 5w30 Oil Composed Of?

What is the 5w30 Oil Composed Of

It is made from a base oil that can either be petroleum-based or synthetic, and various additives help to enhance its performance.

These additives include detergents, anti-wear, friction modifiers, and dispersants, to mention a few. However, it is important to note that the composition of 5w30 may vary slightly depending on the brand you purchased.

Chainsaw Bar Oil and its Role in Chainsaw Operations

Chainsaw Bar Oil and its Role in Chainsaw Operations

Chainsaw bar oil is indispensable when it comes to lubricating the chainsaw bar and chain. It would be best if you never tried to operate your chainsaw without lubricating it properly because it will overheat and damage crucial components such as the bar or chain.

How does the chainsaw bar oil help the saw to operate better? It provides a thin layer of lubrication between the bar and chain, thus reducing the wear on these components and increasing their lifespan.

Chainsaws also emit a lot of heat when using them for cutting tasks. The chainsaw bar oil cools these components. Without it, the chain and bar can overheat or stop functioning altogether.

What Makes Chainsaw Bar Oil a Great Lubricant?

What Makes Chainsaw Bar Oil a Great Lubricant

All Chainsaw bar oils are normally designed to have specific properties that make them suitable for chainsaws. Some of these properties include:

It is Highly Viscous:

One of the main reasons chainsaw bar oil is desired as a lubricant is that its thick and heavy to protect the bar and chain. However, it is still fluid enough to flow easily through the oiling system of the chainsaw. The viscosity grades of chainsaw bar oil can vary from ISO 68 TO ISO 220.


Chainsaw bar oil is fused with tackifiers that help it adhere to the chain and bar more effectively. Without tackifiers, chainsaw bar oil will fling off the bar more frequently, leading to wastage of fuel and inadequate lubrication. You will also need to clean the chainsaw more often.

It is Biodegradable:

You don’t have to worry about spilling chainsaw bar oil into the environment. This is because chainsaw bar oil is biodegradable to ensure that it can easily be broken down so it doesn’t harm the environment.

Has the Ability to Withstand High Temperatures:

Components of the chainsaw generate a lot of heat that can break down the oil exposing the bar and chain and leading to wastage of oil. However, chainsaw bar oil can withstand high temperatures since it has a high flash point of approximately 224 °C.

Anti-Corrosion and Anti-Wear Properties:

 Chainsaw bar oil contains sufficient anti-wear and anti-corrosion additives that help to rust and friction-induced wear. This ensures that your chainsaw bar and chain remain top-notch despite exposure to moisture and other environmental factors.

What is the Difference Between Chainsaw Bar Oil and other Motor Oils

What is the Difference Between Chainsaw Bar Oil & other Motor Oils

Chainsaw bar oil and other motor oils differ mainly in composition and usage. Chainsaw bar oil is designed to lubricate the chain and bar of a chainsaw. On the other hand, motor oil is made to lubricate components of internal combustion engines of automobiles.

In terms of composition, chainsaw bar oil is made up of refined base stocks fused with anti-fling additives to reduce wastage and facilitate the smooth movement of the chain. 5w30 motor oil lacks the tackifier agent that gives chainsaw bar oil its adhesive properties.

In addition, bar oil doesn’t have a Society of Automotive Engineers(SAE) grade or weight classification like motor oils do. However, each chainsaw manufacturer specifies the grade of chainsaw bar oil you should use. This can either be ISO 68, ISO 90, ISO 100, ISO 150, and  ISO 220.

Pros and Cons of Using 5w30 Motor Oil for Chainsaw Bar Oil

Pros and Cons of Using 5w30 Motor Oil for Chainsaw Bar Oil

Here are some of the pros and cons of using 5w30 motor oil for chainsaw bar oil you should consider before making a decision:

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1. Readily Available

5w30 has always been an attractive option whenever I need a quick fix because I can walk into any automotive store and purchase it. It might not be as cheap as chainsaw bar oil, but its availability saves me time.

2. Viscosity Range Compatibility

This multigrade motor oil has different viscosities over a wide range of temperatures, making it suit the lubrication needs of some chainsaws.

3. Works Well During Winter

When working in cold climates, motor oils such as 5w30 perform exceptionally well due to their low viscosity.


1. Lack of Tackiness

5w30 lacks tackifiers that would help it adhere to the bar and chain better. This causes the bar and chain to throw it off more, effectively reducing lubrication.

2. Potential Environmental Impact

I’ve heard several environmental activists complain of the devastating effects of using 5w30 oil on the environment. This is because it is not biodegradable like chainsaw bar oil, so it will potentially cause more harm.

3. Increased Wear and Tear on Chainsaw Components

Many manufacturers recommend chainsaw bar oils that contain specific properties that help to protect the saw against wear and rusting. Using 5w30 oil in place of chainsaw bar oil puts your chainsaw components at more risk

4. Leaves Residue

Regularly using 5w30 oil will leave a lot of residue on your chainsaw, which can build up and eventually damage the chain or bar.

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Hopefully, this article comprehensively answers the question, “ Can I use 5w30 for chainsaw bar oil?. Using 5w30 oil as a substitute has positive and negative repercussions that you should consider before making a decision.

Although motor oil is a good and readily available lubricant, it lacks tackifiers that make it stick to the bar as chainsaw bar oil does. It is also not an environmentally-friendly option, so it should be avoided when necessary.

Finally, I recommend you regularly maintain your chainsaw and use the right chainsaw safety gear to avoid injury or damage.

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