Can I Use Regular Motor Oil As My Chainsaw Bar Oil?

Your Chain and Bar Will Be Better Off With Bar Oil

Logging A lumberjack working with a chainsaw.
Steve Mcsweeny/Moment Open/Getty Images

The debate about chainsaws and using cheaper regular motor oil as the chain/bar lubricant is not completely agreed upon. I can only say that most chainsaw operation manuals insist that you do need to use a quality bar oil. Here is why!  Bar and chain oil has a "high-tack" additive that prevents it from slinging off the chain as it travels around the tip.

Some chainsaw users will tell you that their father and grandfather always used a saw with new 30 weight motor oil with no bar wear. There is some debate about the kind of new oil but no one recommends using old recycled motor oil. Remember that used motor oil drained from a vehicle has microscopic metal bits that act as an abrasive - not good for the chain or bar.

Here are some quotes from my former forestry forum...

"NEVER use old motor oil, it will burn up your bar and chain way too soon to be cost effective. Used motor oil will sling off twice as fast because it is already broken down, and since it's flying off the chainsaw asap it will all end up on your boots and pants making a big mess." - RECYCLE1

"Yes, bar oil has an additive that is extremely sticky, that keeps the oil sticking to the bar groove and chain. I actually have a quart of the stuff and it is amazing. I got it from an oil distributor and I think it's called Mac T or something similar." - TREEMAN2

Most Popular Brands

Oregon 54-026 Chain Saw Bar And Chain Oil (buy from Amazon) - Oregon is the provider of the largest selection of chains in North America. Seems to me they should know how to manufacture the best bar/chain oil available. Their claims: 

  • Provides maximum engine power, low friction and faster cutting time
  • High film strength prevents wear or scuffing of chain links and bars while protecting metal parts against corrosion and rust
  • Resists build-up of deposits such as pitch, sap or gum

Husqvarna 610000023 Bar & Chain Oil (buy from Amazon) - Husqvarna is a reputable chainsaw manufacturer with reliable dealers all over North America. Husqvarna has a reputation for quality and I suspect their bar oil is high quality. Their claims:

  • For all Chain Saws
  • Optimizes your saw's cutting performance by reducing heat and friction
  • Premium blend of base stocks and tackifier additives which reduces high-speed throw-off
  • Extends bar, chain and sprocket life by protecting against wear