Whether your chainsaw is gas-powered or electric, chainsaw bar oil is a necessary component to operating your chainsaw at peak efficiency and with safety in mind. The oil lubricates the bar and chain, preventing premature wear and possible derailing of the chain. Deane Biermeier, licensed contractor, carpenter, and member of The Spruce's Home Improvement Review Board, notes, "Operating a chainsaw without bar oil is not only destructive to the tool, but can also cause kickback or a broken chain which puts your personal safety at risk. In an emergency, and only for a short time until you can refuel with oil formulated specifically for chainsaws, you can substitute vegetable oil or 30-weight motor oil with caution."
Our top chainsaw bar oil is Oregon Chainsaw Bar and Chain Oil, which is an all-season oil that is tacky enough to reduce sling—splatters of oil spraying off the chainsaw while it's in use—and contains additives that help cut down on the buildup of sap, resin, and tree gum on the chain.
Here, the best chainsaw bar oils to buy.
Best Overall: Oregon Chainsaw Bar and Chain Oil
Additives to reduce buildup of tree sap and gum
All-season and general purpose
Few complaints that oil is thin
Bottle might leak
Whether you have a gas or electric chainsaw, you'll find that the chain moves more easily and smoothly with a regular application of Oregon Chainsaw Bar and Chain Oil. This all-season, uncolored lubricant is extra tacky to reduce sling even in weather extremes. It's very slippery and just thin enough to pour easily without being so thin that it will quickly burn off your chain. It clings tightly to your chain so as to reduce wear and tear, and also helps resist the buildup of sap, resins, and tree gum that can slow down your cutting speed. Not only suitable for chainsaws, you can also use this bar oil to lube pole saws, hedge shears, or any other yard equipment that has a moving chain. It comes in both quart and gallon sizes.
Price at time of publish: $7 per quart
Best Biodegradable: DGP Pro 100 Bar and Chain Oil
Plant-based, environmentally friendly
Tacky to reduce sling
It’s inevitable that some chainsaw bar oil ends up in the environment or on the operator, so many people are searching for more ecofriendly chainsaw oils. The DGP Pro Bar and Chain Oil is a popular choice that poses no harm to plants, animals, or people. This biodegradable chainsaw oil is made from a blend of seed oils grown in the United States, according to the manufacturer. It’s an especially good option if you'll be using your chainsaw around a body of water or garden, in areas where pets or kids play, or if you simply prefer a more environmentally friendly chain oil.
This uncolored oil is suited to all types of chainsaws in any season, and has high tackiness to reduce sling and drips. To maximize effectiveness and prevent gunk, the manufacturer directs you to clear your chainsaw of any petroleum-based blade oil before using this formula.
Price at time of publish: $47 per gallon
Best Value: Toro Bar & Chain Oil
Colored red for easy visibility
Only in quart size
The Toro Bar & Chain Oil is inexpensive, but it still provides excellent lubrication for all types of chainsaws. The tacky film clings tightly to the chain, preventing heat and friction damage and maintaining a smooth performance. This oil stays free-flowing and viscous in any temperature, so it's good for all seasons. It also contains additives that help to reduce general wear-and-tear to the chain and bar, as well as red coloring that makes it easier to see how well the oil is coating your chain. It can be used with any brand of chainsaw.
Price at time of publish: $6 per quart
Best Winter: Poulan Pro Bar & Chain Oil
Good for cold-weather use
A bit thin for high temperatures
If you need a chainsaw bar oil for cold-winter work check out the Poulan Pro Bar & Chain Oil. Originally developed with the logging industry in mind, this reasonably priced, uncolored bar oil will keep your chain coated and operating smoothly when the temperature dips down low. This thinner oil flows smoothly in cold weather, but is still tacky enough to reduce sling and keep your chainsaw well lubricated. You can use this chainsaw bar oil on any type of chainsaw. While it is also suited to summer use, it may be a little too thin for the highest temperatures, thus requiring you to refill your oil reservoir more frequently.
Price at time of publish: $20 per gallon
Best for Summer: MAXPOWER Bar & Chain Oil
Thick for summer use
As summer temperatures rise, you may want to consider a somewhat thicker oil that won't thin out in high temperatures. The challenge is to find one with enough tackiness to prevent excessive throw-off. Maxpower’s Bar and Chain Oil is a worthwhile option that flows well while clinging to the chain even when it's hot. Blended from 100-percent virgin oil, this uncolored chain oil is recommended by the manufacturer for all types of chainsaws. The anti-wear additives assist in extending the life of the blade and chain.
Price at time of publish: $24 per gallon
Best Universal: Echo Premium Bar and Chain Oil
Reduces buildup of sap and tree gums
Somewhat difficult to pour from container
Whatever your preferred brand or type of chainsaw, you need a good lubricating oil to keep the chain moving smoothly around the bar. And with Echo Premium Bar and Chain Oil, you can keep your chainsaw in peak operating condition all year long. Thick enough to cling in the heat, but thin enough not to bog your chainsaw down in the winter, the uncolored oil pours easily but has enough tackiness to cling tightly to the chain without excessive sling. The oil has additives that help repel buildup of sticky materials that might slow down the saw when cutting through wood that has a lot of sap.
Price at time of publish: $23 per gallon
Best for Cordless Chainsaws: Sun Joe Bar+Chain All-Season Lubricant
Excellent for electric chainsaws and pole saws
Reduces rust, sap, and tree gum
More sling than some other brands
While you can certainly use Sun Joe Bar+Chain All-Season Lubricant in gas-powered chainsaws, it is an especially good choice for electric or battery-powered chainsaws, thanks to its formulation that reduces the heat and friction that can drag down your chain speed, as well as ingredients to help prevent rust and buildup of sap and other sticky materials. It's not quite as tacky as some other oils, however, so might have a little bit more sling than others. You can use this chainsaw oil in any type or brand of chainsaw, pole saw, or similar tools with powered chains.
Price at time of publish: $7 per quart
Best Heavy-Duty: Stihl Platinum Bar and Chain Lubricant
Reduces sap buildup
Very effective lubrication
Not the oil for the occasional chainsaw user, Stihl Platinum Bar and Chain Lubricant is formulated for those who use their chainsaws for long working sessions in sometimes harsh weather conditions. Made from highly refined oils and additives to increase tackiness and reduce sap buildup, this uncolored oil will keep your chainsaw working smoothly without lag or stutters, and without excessive sling. It's suited to any brand or type of chainsaw, and will help extend the life of your chainsaw blades by greatly reducing heat and friction. While a little more expensive than some other brands, it's worth it if you use your chainsaw regularly or for heavy-duty cutting.
Price at time of publish: $19 per quart
If you’re looking for an excellent chainsaw bar oil that works in all weather conditions, won’t sling off the chain excessively, and helps reduce wear and tear on your chain, then it’s hard to go wrong with Oregon Chainsaw Bar and Chain Oil. But if you prefer a more environmentally friendly chainsaw bar oil, then DGP Pro 100 Bar and Chain Oil, which is formulated with plant oils rather than petroleum, is the best option.
What to Look For In a Chainsaw Bar Oil
Chainsaw bar oils are either petroleum-based or bio-based (formulated using vegetable oil). In the course of using a chainsaw, oil sling is inevitable. This means that the ground and plants in the area you're working will absorb the oil. For this reason, environmental regulations require the use of vegetable-based, biodegradable chainsaw oils in some locations. Even in areas where it's not mandated, some homeowners prefer to use bio-based chainsaw oil.
Similar to motor oil, chainsaw bar oil is available in various weights. The lightest oil is a 10W formula, while thicker oil may be up to 50W. A 30W chainsaw bar oil is generally considered standard for warm weather usage.
However, you'll notice that most chainsaw bar oil manufacturers don't categorize oil according to weight. Instead, you'll see chainsaw bar oil formulas listed as 'Winter', 'Summer', or 'All-Season.' Chainsaw bar oil for winter is usually 10W. Very hot temperatures may call for a thicker chainsaw oil, in the 40W to 50W range.
Most formulas of chainsaw oil contain additives. These additives may have a variety of functions, but they're most commonly used to prevent rust and corrosion and to increase tackiness, which reduces sling so you don't have to refill the oil reservoir as often. Other additives keep the oil 'slippery' enough to prevent sap and debris from accumulating in the chain.
Some chainsaw bar oils are colored, usually red, to make it easier to see how thoroughly your chain is coated, as well as the remaining level of oil in the reservoir. Without added color, these oils are a light-to-dark brown.
Chainsaw bar oil is typically sold in quart-size or gallon-size bottles. When deciding which size to buy, keep in mind that you'll need to regularly use the oil as you operate your chainsaw. Unlike engine oil that lasts for an extended period of time, chainsaw bar oil requires frequent re-application.
What is chainsaw bar oil?
Chainsaw bar oil is lubricant that is designed to reduce friction between the chain and bar. Friction creates heat, which can damage the chain and bar. An oil reservoir on the chainsaw releases the oil onto the bar. It's picked up by the chain as it travels around the bar and then flung off in tiny droplets as the machine runs.
How much bar oil should a chainsaw use?
For each tank of fuel, your chainsaw should use at least half, if not all, of the bar oil in the reservoir. If you run out of bar oil before gas, then you should increase the flow of oil from the reservoir.
What viscosity is chainsaw bar oil?
The viscosity of chainsaw bar oil can vary depending on the formula but 30W is standard. In cold weather, a thin 10W chainsaw oil may be advantageous, while very hot temperatures may require a much thicker 40W or 50W formula.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Michelle Ullman is the home improvement/tool expert for The Spruce. She has extensive experience not only in writing about all things related to the home, but also in carrying out various DIY projects, including landscaping, painting, flooring, wallpapering, furniture makeovers, and simple repairs around the house and yard.
For this roundup, she considered dozens of chainsaw bar oils, evaluating each for effectiveness, weight, versatility, helpful additives, and overall value. She also considered feedback from customers, both positive and negative, and received further input and advice from Deane Biermeier, a licensed contractor, carpenter, and member of The Spruce's Home Improvement Review Board.