Can I use lawn mower oil in my chainsaw? The Expert Guide

Can I use lawn mower oil in my chainsaw

No. You can’t use lawn mower oil in a chainsaw. Lawnmower oil is a kind of crankcase lubricant used in four-cycle engines. Nothing makes its way into the furnace. Two types of oil are required for the chainsaw.

Can I use lawn mower oil in my chainsaw?

The oil used in chainsaws is called bar and chain oil or simply chainsaw oil. It is specially developed to lubricate the chainsaw’s bar and chain, lowering friction and prolonging their useful lives. Tackier and thicker than other lubricants, chainsaw oil keeps the saw’s chain and bar from separating, even at high speeds.

Lawn mower oil, on the other hand, is made specifically for use in a lawn mower’s motor. Chainsaw chains and bars cannot be lubricated with it. Mower oil isn’t sticky enough to stick to a chainsaw’s bar and chain, and lawn mower oil is too thin to be effective. 

When used in a chainsaw, lawn mower oil does not provide enough lubrication, which can cause the chain and bar to overheat and break. Therefore, it is recommended to always use the manufacturer-recommended chainsaw oil for the best performance and longest life of your saw. 

Here’s more detail on why you should not use lawn mower oil in a chainsaw:

  1. Oil Composition

Chainsaw oil is designed to withstand the fast speeds and high temperatures inherent to the tool’s use. The engine of a chainsaw requires a special type of oil that may not be found in lawnmower oil.

  1. Engine Requirements

The chainsaw and lawnmower engines require different operating conditions, temperatures, and lubrication. Chainsaw motors are subjected to greater RPMs and more rigorous cutting operations than other saw types. Therefore, they need an optimized oil for use in such environments.

  1. Two-Stroke vs. Four-Stroke

Unlike chainsaws, which employ two-stroke motors, most lawnmowers use four-stroke engines. Oil must be mixed with gasoline in two-stroke engines instead of four-stroke ones with a dedicated oil reservoir.

  1. Performance and Safety

Chainsaw engines are sensitive, and incorrect oil might cause serious problems. Premature engine failure, excessive wear, and overheating may all be avoided with regular maintenance.

What can I use instead of chainsaw oil?

What can I use instead of chainsaw oil

Choosing the right bar oil for your chainsaw is crucial to its performance. Finding a suitable replacement, however, is not always easy. To this purpose, I’ll explain some viable options, listing their benefits and detailing any caveats or suggestions for optimal use.

  1. Canola Oil

Canola oil is an additional risk-free lubricant option. Canola, derived from rapeseed, is less sticky and better adheres to chains in colder climates and throughout the winter. 

On snowy days and in cold weather, canola oil’s high viscosity makes it an ideal diluent. Furthermore, canola oil is more reasonably priced in certain areas than the manufacturer-recommended chain oil.

How to use:

Canola oils, like vegetable oils, have a more liquid consistency. You should expect it to leak quickly when you use it on your chainsaw, necessitating more frequent refills. 

Winter is the best time to use this alternative chainsaw bar oil since it maximizes the oil and sticks better to your chainsaw.


  • Provides a high viscosity that works well in low temperatures.
  • Maintains its lubricating properties even in subzero temperatures.
  • It can save money if used in places cheaper than regular chain oil.


  • It is less sticky than specialist chainsaw oil, which may shorten its useful life.
  • Possibly has to be restocked more frequently than other oils due to its shorter shelf life.

Due to its reduced viscosity, which makes it unsuitable for use in heavy-duty jobs, it is not a sustainable alternative.

  1. Motor Oil

If you ever find yourself without chainsaw oil, motor oil can do in a pinch. It is the go-to in any garage because of its viscosity and low flammability. 

How to use: 

First, locate the bar oil reservoir by laying your saw flat on a surface. Take off the cap and use a funnel to replace the soiled oil with fresh motor oil. 

Excess oil should be wiped away using a clean cloth.


  • Its optimal viscosity and low flammability guarantee high-efficiency lubrication.
  • It’s a practical option because you can find it in most garages.


  • High-velocity operations may cause oil to spray and contaminate your work area.
  • It is not advised because of its composition and possible lubrication concerns with extended use.
  • Because of its chemical composition, it should not be used for plant life operations.
  1. Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil is a safe and sustainable fuel option for your chainsaw. Using them for tree cutting won’t cause any harm to the surrounding vegetation. Vegetable oils are healthy, low-cost, and probably already in your kitchen.

How to use: 

When you first use a chainsaw lubricated with vegetable oil, it will seep onto the bar and chain. Before putting away your chainsaw, ensure there are no oil leaks by adjusting the oiler flow screw, usually situated under the saw.

Moreover, never use old vegetable oil instead of fresh oil in your bar or chain. The moderate thickness makes it inappropriate for the colder months.  Also, it can be used without diluting; however, it tends to go lumpy if kept in the fridge.


  • Provides a more sustainable alternative that causes less harm to the environment.
  • Allows for more eco-friendly practices because it does not harm plants during cutting.


  • Its low viscosity could be problematic during extended, intense chainsaw work.
  • It becomes ineffective as a lubricant because it clumps when exposed to cold temperatures.
  1. Hydraulic Fluid

Compared to conventional motor and bar oil, hydraulic oil has a similar viscosity and flash point. 

However, if your chain lubricant runs out, you can temporarily lubricate the chain with hydraulic fluid or hydrate the chainsaw’s guide and bar, but none of these options is ideal. 

How to use

Due to its low viscosity, hydraulic fluid can be a pain to work with. I recommend diluting it with other oils to make it easier to work with. 

Choose a hydraulic oil that is less harmful to the environment, and avoid recycling hydraulic fluids because they are more likely to include impurities.


  • Features a flash point and viscosity that are on par with conventional chain oil.
  • Provides a quick fix for lubricating issues, especially in dire situations.
  • Achieves its full potential even when temperatures are low, guaranteeing consistent operation.


  • Because it dries so quickly, it needs to be reapplied more often.
  • It is not as eco-friendly as other chain oil alternatives.
  • Due to the possible risks involved, thorough observance of safety procedures, including the use of protective clothing and equipment, is required.
  1. Power Steering And Gear Fluid

Transmission and power steering fluids are viable alternatives to oil for lubricating chains. Gear oil may protect the chains from jamming, much like regular chain lube, yet it weighs very little. 


  • When your chains don’t have enough oil, it can frequently decrease friction. 
  • It has a high viscosity 


  • There is a bad scent. 
  1. Transmission and Power Steering Fluids

Chainsaw oil is frequently replaced with transmission fluid, or ATF because it is less greasy and has a runnier consistency than typical lubricants with a thick viscosity. 


  • Provide backup solutions that are less gummy in the case that traditional chainsaw oil is not available.


  • They have a thinner consistency than chainsaw oil, which may not provide the best lubrication.
  • Continuous use is not advised because they weren’t designed for chainsaw operations.
  1. Coconut and Olive Oil

Coconut oil is a non-toxic alternative recommended even in hotter seasons like summer. It’s a long-lasting alternative to dangerous chainsaw bar oil.

Olive oil is another option for bar oil, but you probably wouldn’t think to use it. Because of its thick consistency, it works well as a chainsaw oil. 


  • Can be helpful in times of crisis since they provide quick access to lubricant.
  • Stand out as options that are less dangerous to work with because they are non-toxic and easy to utilize.
  • They are adaptable in a variety of settings but shine in hotter climates.


  • Variations in viscosity may need more frequent refills, disrupting otherwise continuous operations.
  • Limitations in jobs that require more lubrication, such as those deemed “heavy duty,” are possible.

Final Verdict 

If you need chainsaw oil but do not have any on hand, it is not advised that you use any other kind of oil in its place. Several variables must be considered when deciding on a replacement chainsaw oil. The risks of ignition, flammability, durability, shelf life, warranty issues, and ecological effects are only a few. 

However, those above are only viable alternatives to a chainsaw in an emergency. Though they might get the job done temporarily, these substitutes might not be as effective as your regular lubricant.