I cannot overstate the importance of using the right bar and chain oil type when using your chainsaw. Bar and chain oil is specifically designed to lubricate the chain and bar to reduce friction and prevent damage to your equipment.
So many different types are available that it can be challenging to select the right one for your chainsaw. One crucial factor to consider when choosing bar and chain oil is its viscosity grade or what people usually refer to as the “weight.” But what weight is bar and chain oil?
Well, bar and chain oil do not have standard weights or viscosity grades. The ideal weight for bar and chain oil will depend on the operating temperature and the type of chainsaw you use. However, there are five distinct weights for bar and chain oil. These are ISO 68, ISO 90, ISO 100, ISO 150, and ISO 220.
In this article, I will dive deeper into the weight, brands, and substitutes for bar and chain oil, so stick around to learn everything you need to know before purchasing.
What is the Viscosity of Bar and Chain Oil?
Bar and chain oil does not use the SAE viscosity rating system, unlike motor oils. Instead, they use the International Standards Organization (ISO) viscosity grade system.
This system uses the oil’s viscosity at 40 °C and 100 °C to grade the oils. The midpoint of the viscosity range denotes the viscosity grade of the oil or its “weight. Five different chain and bar oil weights are available based on the kinematic viscosities of the oil at 40 °C.
They are ISO 68, ISO 90, ISO 100, ISO 150, and ISO 220. A higher viscosity grade indicates a thicker oil and vice-versa.
Why is the viscosity of the bar oil important? Because it affects how well the oil will lubricate the chainsaw bar and chain during use. A thicker oil, such as ISO 220, may be more suitable to use in the summer, while a bar and chain oil with a lower viscosity grade may be more suitable for winter.
However, some bar and chain oil brands use an SAE viscosity rating for their oil, for example, 20w (20 weight) or 30w (30 weight), or 40w (40 weight). You will have to check your manufacturer’s user manual to know which weight of bar and chain oil is suitable for your saw.
What is the Standard Way of Measuring the Weight of Motor Oil?
The standard way of classifying motor oil is using the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) viscosity grading system. This system rates engine oils per their viscosity or weight at 100 °C.
Depending on the results viscosity obtained, the oil is rated as SAE viscosity grade 20, 30, 40, 50, or 60. This is also commonly known as the “weight” of the oil. A higher value indicates that the oil is more viscous.
Motor oils are further categorized as summer grades or winter grades. Winter grades come with the suffix “w” and indicate the oil’s flow characteristics at low temperatures. For example, SAE 5w30 AND 1Ow30
You can further classify these oils as single-graded or multi-graded. Single-graded oil, or “straight-weight” oils, are only rated for summer or winter use. For example, an SAE 30 oil means that it has a viscosity rating of 30 and is thicker and more resistant to high temperatures.
Multi-graded oils, on the other hand, have varying viscosities over a wide range of temperature conditions. For example, an SAE 10w30 oil has a viscosity rating of 10 in winter conditions and a rating of 30 in summer conditions.
Is SAE 30 the Same as Bar and Chain Oil?
No, SAE 30 and bar and chain oil are different products. SAE 30 is a single-grade motor oil or a “straight-weight” oil designed to lubricate small air-cooled engines such as lawnmowers or old cars. Single-grade motor oils like SAE 30 maintain their viscosity despite changes in temperature conditions.
SAE 30 oil is thick and viscous and was mainly made to be used in summer or hot weather conditions. It is easy to confuse SAE 30 and bar and chain oil because they flow similarly. Some bar and chain oils are designed to have an SAE 30 viscosity rating.
The main difference, however, is that bar and chain oil have extra additives (tackifiers) that make it gooey and sticky so that it remains on the bar when operating it. SAE 30 weight oil lacks these additives. Therefore, it will fling off the bar significantly at high operation speeds.
Can I use Regular Motor Oil as My Chainsaw Bar Oil?
Do you ask yourself, “Can I use regular motor oil as my chainsaw bar oil?” Well, you can. However, this should only be for a short period. I’ve done so several times, and it has worked out fine. The main problem is it does not provide the same level of lubrication as bar and chain oil.
A heavier-grade motor oil such as SAE 30 or SAE 40 weight is thick enough to lubricate the bar and chain, especially in high temperatures. On the other hand, lighter-grade motor oils such as SAE 5W weight will also be suitable substitutes for motor oils in cold temperatures since they flow well.
Additionally, motor and chainsaw bar oils contain many similar additives that help to protect the bar, e.g., anti-wear and anti-corrosion additives. However, motor oils lack the tackiness additive that makes chainsaw bar oil stick to the bar better.
Motor oils spray everywhere due to a lack of adhesive properties. This means that you will have to use more of it. It means that your bar and chain will be less protected and lubricated.
That is why you will notice wood chippings and other debris accumulating, causing your chainsaw chain not to spin freely and even causing damage.
This will shorten your saw’s life or damage the chain and bar, so you should clean them out regularly. Regular motor oils also thin out faster, especially if you’re handling heavy-duty cutting tasks, so you will notice more smoke coming out of your saw.
What Can I Substitute for Bar and Chain Oil?
You might wonder what motor oil is equivalent to chainsaw bar oil or what other oil can be a good substitute. There is no exact equivalent to chainsaw bar oil in terms of motor oil since the latter is formulated explicitly for chainsaw chain and bar lubrication.
However, if you need a substitute for bar and chain oil, you can use the following oils as a temporary solution:
- 10w40 Motor Oil
10w40 can be a good substitute for chainsaw bar oil since it is thick enough to lubricate the bar at high temperatures. So it might be an excellent option to use in the summer. However, the oil can become sticky in winter when the motor heats it up.
This will cause it to inadequately lubricate all parts of the chainsaw leading to increased friction and overheating.
- 10w30 Motor Oil
Like the 10w40, this motor oil can also temporarily provide lubrication. It will be thick enough during summer or in high temperatures so it cannot be broken down by heat easily. However, in winter, it can cause similar problems to the 10w40 I mentioned above.
- Vegetable Oil
Vegetable oil is a surprisingly better bar and chain oil alternative than motor oils. This is due to its good lubrication properties, high flash point, and shear resistance. It is suitable for the environment since it is biodegradable.
Some vegetable oils, such as canola oil, are way cheaper than bar oil, so they will help you to save on costs. The only downside of using vegetable oils as a substitute is that they may not perform well in cold weather.
Best Chainsaw Bar Oils on the Market
Here are some of the best bar and chain oils that you can find:
Stihl is known for producing exceptional chainsaws. However, they also make reliable bar and chain oil like the 0781 516 5005 Platinum which is compatible with all Stihl chainsaws and some other saws. This oil is made from highly refined oils to provide maximum lubrication and extend your saw’s life.
This Husqvarna product is a great chain and bar lubricant for Husqvarna chainsaws
. This is because it is made from a blend of high-quality base stocks and additives that help it to resist high temperatures.
This bar and chain oil is designed to provide optimal lubrication and protection to your chainsaw. It is specially designed to remove dirt and debris to keep the saw performing at its best.
If you have a Poulan chainsaw, you should grab this bar and chain oil. It is also made from a combination of base oils and special additives that help it to resist wear and tear.
It is important to note that the best bar and chain oil on the market will depend on your chainsaw’s specific make and model. You should always review your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation.
Read Also: How to Adjust a Poulan Chainsaw Carburetor
The Bottom Line
Using the correct type of bar and chain oil is crucial for maintaining the performance and longevity of your chainsaw. Bar and chain oils have different weights or viscosity grades, so I advise you to check your manufacturer’s user manual to determine which bar and chain oil weight is best for your particular saw.
- Read Also: 9 Common Stihl 441 Problems: How to Fix Them