The Best Chainsaw Bar Oils of 2022

Protect your chainsaw’s working parts and keep the saw running smoothly with these premium bar and chain lubricants.

By Mark Wolfe | Published Mar 31, 2022 2:28 PM

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Best Chainsaw Bar Oils Options

Photo: amazon.com

Before starting a chainsaw, be sure to top up the bar oil. Bar and chain oil is not the same as two-cycle oil, a type of oil that is mixed with gasoline to lubricate the inner parts of two-stroke gas engines. Instead, bar oil works on the exterior moving parts of the saw, keeping the chain, guide bar, and sprockets properly conditioned to cut efficiently.

With dozens of options available, it can be difficult to sort out which bar oil is right for your chainsaw and working conditions. To help clarify the choices, we have compiled the following list of the best chainsaw bar oil, with detailed product reviews later in the article.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Oregon Chainsaw Bar and Chain Oil 
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Toro 38914 Chainsaw Oil
  3. BEST FOR SUMMER: Echo 6459007 Power Chainsaw Bar and Chain Oil
  4. BEST FOR WINTER: Poulan Pro 952030204 Bar and Chain Oil
  5. BEST ALL-SEASON: Husqvarna X-Guard All Season Bar & Chain Oil
  6. BEST BIODEGRADABLE: Renewable Lubricants Bio-Pro Bar and Chain Oil
  7. BEST FOR CORDLESS: Makita 181116-A Bar and Chain Oil
  8. BEST HEAVY-DUTY: Stihl 0781 516 5003 Platinum Bar And Chain Lubricant
  9. ALSO CONSIDER: STP Tools and Chainsaw Oil Treatment, 18591
Best Chainsaw Bar Oils Options

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Chainsaw Bar Oil

A chainsaw is a valuable tool that needs care and maintenance to work properly and keep you safe. Using the best bar and chain oil is one of the easiest ways to prevent breakdowns. Following are some of the important factors to bear in mind as you shop.

Engine Type

Since bar oil works on the exterior parts of the saw, it may not be obvious that the engine type indirectly influences bar oil selection. Lightweight corded and cordless electric chainsaws work well with thinner, lower-viscosity bar and chain oil. Powerful gasoline engines generate more speed, force, and heat, and so these saws work best with high-viscosity, high-tack oils that will not break down under intense conditions.

These generalizations are not intended to be rules. Other factors related to the working conditions and even the oil itself should be considered before choosing the best bar and chain oil for your saw and cutting project.

Formula

The specific formula of the chainsaw oil makes a difference. For nearly a century, petroleum-based bar and chain oils were the only option. This has been problematic because bar oil is released directly into the environment while cutting. In recent years, biodegradable vegetable-based bar oil has shown superior results as an eco-friendly alternative. Unfortunately, the cost of biodegradable bar and chain oil in North America is currently much higher than petroleum.

Petroleum-based chainsaw oil may be either “conventional” or “synthetic.” Conventional oil is refined from crude oil and may be cheaper than synthetic. Synthetic oil is manufactured from modified petroleum products and other additives. Synthetic bar and chain oil is generally considered to be the higher-quality alternative.

Some formula pseudo-indicators on the label are less helpful and can be ignored. Terms like “premium,” “platinum,” and “master” are used for marketing and are not based on industry standards.

Oil Weight and Viscosity

Air temperature affects oil performance. Cold winter temperatures make oil thicker, or more viscous, and difficult to pour into the reservoir. Hot summer weather makes it runny, or less viscous, which increases oil consumption and decreases the oil’s effectiveness. To counteract the effects of air temperature, choose different oil weights for extreme conditions.

  • All-season (approximately 10 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit), 30 to 40 weight
  • Winter (32 degrees Fahrenheit and colder), 20 weight
  • Summer (40 degrees Fahrenheit and warmer), 40 to 50 weight

Tackiness

Chainsaw users often ask if it is OK to use regular motor oil instead of bar oil. After all, motor oil is also designed to lubricate fast-moving metal parts under high temperature and pressure. However, the important difference between bar oil and motor oil is tackiness. Bar oil is made with a “tackifier” additive that makes it stick to the bar and chain at high speeds and temperatures. Motor oil quickly flies off the chain in these conditions, making it far less effective.

Some bar oil brands use terms like “high tack” or “low sling” to indicate the oil’s ability to stay on the bar and chain. It is important to note there is no industry labeling standard to quantify or compare tackiness among products, so these terms can be considered marketing tools.

Additives

Lubricant makers employ a variety of chemical additives to achieve performance results in addition to basic “slippery-ness.” In chainsaw oil, tackifier is one important example. Others may include dispersants, oxidation inhibitors, anti-wear agents, and viscosity improvers. These performance enhancing products add to the price of the oil, so that the old adage that “you get what you pay for” is true.

More expensive branded bar and chain oils contain higher levels of these additives. With consistent use, results may include reduced oil usage, smoother cutting action, and longer saw life.

Some manufacturers add colored dyes to their bar and chain oils. Colored oils can be easier to see inside the oil reservoir, or through the reservoir “window” as an indicator to refill.

Size 

Most bar and chain oils are available in quart or gallon containers. The gallon size is the most cost-effective for those who cut lots of wood. Quart bottles may be a more convenient option for occasional users who don’t want to store extra oil for months at a time or longer.

Our Top Picks

We compiled these picks of the best bar and chain oil by researching the recommendations of top chainsaw manufacturers. We then compared those results to bar oil brands with the most positive customer feedback. Read on for the results.

Best Overall

The Best Chainsaw Bar Oils Option: Oregon Chainsaw Bar and Chain Oil
Photo: amazon.com

Oregon Bar And Chain Oil is one of the best-selling bar oils. It is made with additives for increased tackiness compared to other brands and high-film strength to prevent corrosion and wear on the saw chain, bar, and sprockets. Plus this oil reduces buildup of tree sap, gum, and resins on saw parts. This bar oil is suitable for all chainsaw types, as well as pole saws and hedge trimmers.

The specially designed formula works in a wide range of temperatures, with extra tackiness to prevent throw-off. It has a somewhat runny consistency, which is perfect for working in most temperatures. Its lower viscosity allows chainsaw motors to work more efficiently, which may reduce fuel consumption but could also lead to increased bar oil usage.

Product Specs 

  • Volume: 128 ounces
  • Season: All
  • Dyed: No

Pros

  • Budget-friendly price
  • All-season formula
  • Extra tacky

Cons

  • Thin viscosity is less oil-efficient in hot weather
  • More expensive than bargain brands

Get the Oregon bar and chain oil on Amazon or at Tractor Supply Co.

Best Bang For the Buck

The Best Chainsaw Bar Oils Option: Toro 38914 Chainsaw Oil
Photo: amazon.com

Toro Chainsaw Oil is engineered for low friction and smooth cutting. This all-season formula is the bar and chain oil recommended for Toro chainsaws and is also compatible with most other brands. The oil is colored red for improved visibility of the fill level through oil reservoir indicator windows.

This is another good quality, general purpose bar and chain oil. While the viscosity and tack are comparable to other premium-branded bar oils, this one comes in at about half the price. The quart size may not be adequate for frequent chainsaw users, but it is just right for occasional use.

Product Specs 

  • Volume: 32 ounces
  • Season: All
  • Dyed: Yes

Pros

  • All-season formula
  • Engineered for low friction
  • Use in any chainsaw

Cons

  • Less tacky than other oils
  • Small size

Get the Toro chainsaw oil on Amazon, at The Home Depot, or at Walmart.

Best For Summer

The Best Chainsaw Bar Oils Option: Echo 6459007 Power Chainsaw Bar and Chain Oil
Photo: amazon.com

In hot summer weather, a more viscous bar oil makes chainsaw work easier. Echo chainsaw oil is thick and efficient for summer work, helping you use less oil because it does not get runny in the heat. Additives help the oil stick to the chainsaw bar and chain in difficult work conditions for better protection and smoother cuts through hard, dense, and sappy wood. That means less strenuous work, a lower risk of overheating the saw, and less downtime to refill the bar oil.

Among all-season bar oils, Echo excels in the heat. It may become a bit too thick to easily pour from the jug in extremely cold weather.

Product Specs 

  • Volume: 128 ounces
  • Season: All
  • Dyed: Yes

Pros

  • Its thick viscosity is oil efficient in summer temperatures
  • Colored purple for easy oil-level visibility
  • Convenient size for frequent use

Cons

  • Jug shape makes the oil somewhat difficult to pour into the saw
  • Does not pour as easily in cold weather

Get the Echo bar and chain oil on Amazon or at The Home Depot.

Best For Winter

The Best Chainsaw Bar Oils Options: Poulan Pro 952030204 Bar and Chain Oil
Photo: amazon.com

All-season Poulan Pro Bar And Chain Oil is a great choice for those who use their chainsaw in sub-freezing conditions. It has a lighter viscosity that flows well in the cold, but it retains its protective qualities for year-round use. This product was engineered for the logging industry, so you can expect a no-frills product that works well in harsh conditions.

Poulan Pro bar oil is engineered with additives to reduce wear on the bar and chain, prevent jamming, and improve tack. The slightly runny texture is excellent for low-temperature work, but it may result in inefficient oil usage in hot weather.

Product Specs 

  • Volume: 128 ounces
  • Season: All
  • Dyed: No

Pros

  • Thin viscosity is great for cold-weather work
  • Excellent wear resistance
  • Excellent tack

Cons

  • Thin oil is used up more quickly in hot weather
  • High tack can make excess debris stick to the bar and chainsaw body

Get the Poulan Pro bar and chain oil on Amazon or at Walmart.

Best All-Season

The Best Chainsaw Bar Oils Option: Husqvarna X-Guard All Season Bar & Chain Oil
Photo: amazon.com

Husqvarna X-Guard offers excellent protection at higher and lower temperatures than other all-season bar oils. It has a minimum temperature rating of 15 degrees Fahrenheit, and it does not become excessively runny in hot weather. Premium anti-wear, anti-friction, and high tack additives keep the saw running its best and extend its working life.

This all-season chainsaw oil can be used in any chainsaw. At temperatures above 90 degrees, expect oil usage to increase.

Product Specs 

  • Volume: 128 ounces
  • Season: All
  • Dyed: Yes

Pros

  • Flows well to a minimum temperature of 15 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Maintains viscosity above 90 degrees Fahrenheit
  • High tack content

Cons

  • More expensive than the competition
  • Jug design makes it difficult to pour directly into saw without spilling

Get the Husqvarna bar and chain oil on Amazon or at Northern Tool + Equipment.

Best Biodegradable

The Best Chainsaw Bar Oils Option: Renewable Lubricants Bio-Pro Bar and Chain Oil
Photo: amazon.com

Whether you are motivated by concern for the environment or want to improve the operation of your chainsaw, Bio-Pro Bar and Chain Oil could be an excellent choice. It is made with renewable, biodegradable vegetable oils combined with additives for outstanding anti-wear and extreme pressure performance with a high level of tackiness. It even dissolves tree sap and pitch to keep saws running clean and smooth.

Renewable Lubricants Bio-Pro is safe to use in any chainsaw. It flows well at temperatures as low as -5 degrees Fahrenheit, and it maintains good viscosity at 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Product Specs 

  • Volume: 32 ounces
  • Season: All
  • Dyed: Yes

Pros

  • Renewable and biodegradable
  • Broad working temperature range of -5 degrees to more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Priced similarly to petroleum-based products

Cons

  • Difficult to find for purchase

Get the Renewable Lubricants bar and chain oil on Amazon or at Renewable Lubricants.

Best For Cordless

The Best Chainsaw Bar Oils Option: Makita 181116-A Bar and Chain Oil
Photo: amazon.com

Cordless chainsaws eliminate unnecessary fuel mixing and cumbersome extension cords from the wood-cutting process. But they still need a high-quality bar and chain oil to lubricate and protect their working parts. Makita Bar and Chain Oil is manufactured by one of the leading cordless chainsaw manufacturers for all-season use.

This conventional oil blend includes additives for increased wear resistance and reduced friction  to protect the bar, chain, and sprockets for a longer working life. With good viscosity at high temperatures and an ability to flow in sub-freezing weather, it is suitable for all-season use in any chainsaw. The non-dyed oil may not be as easily visible in the oil reservoir as dyed oils.

Product Specs 

  • Volume: 128 ounces
  • Season: All
  • Dyed: No

Pros

  • High tack to minimize sling
  • Anti-wear additives
  • Made with high-grade virgin oil

Cons

  • Not dyed for visibility
  • More expensive than recycled oil blends

Get the Makita bar and chain oil on Amazon or at Gemplers.

Best Heavy-Duty

The Best Chainsaw Bar Oils Option: Stihl 0781 516 5003 Platinum Bar And Chain Lubricant
Photo: amazon.com

This is the  bar and chain oil made by the top-selling chainsaw brand in the world. Stihl Platinum Bar and Chain Lubricant is manufactured with highly refined oils blended with a concentrated tackiness additive. It is engineered for high-speed, heavy-duty cutting and works in any chainsaw.

Stihl Platinum Bar And Chain Lubricant includes additives to eliminate sap buildup on the bar and chain, improve wear resistance, and decrease friction heat buildup. The all-season formula works year-round in the harshest cutting conditions. This oil comes at a higher price than many of its competitors.

Product Specs 

  • Volume: 32 ounces
  • Season: All
  • Dyed: No

Pros

  • Eliminates sap and resin buildup
  • Reduces friction and heat
  • Improved wear resistance

Cons

  • More expensive than other brands

Get the Stihl bar and chain lubricant on Amazon.

Also Consider

The Best Chainsaw Bar Oils Option: STP Tools and Chainsaw Oil Treatment, 18591
Photo: amazon.com

STP has been a trusted machinery and tool lubricant brand for generations. Its value-priced bar and chain oil offers a combination of high-grade base oil blended with anti-wear and resin-cleaning ingredients plus tackifier to prevent throw-off. It’s a no-frills choice that simply works as intended to protect the saw’s moving parts and keep it running clean and smooth.

Available in either quart or gallon containers, STP Bar & Chain Oil is suitable for all-season use in any chainsaw.

Product Specs 

  • Volume: 32 ounces
  • Season: All
  • Dyed: No

Pros

  • Minimizes sap buildup
  • Lower viscosity, excels in cold weather
  • Good bar and chain adherence
  • Competitive price

Cons

  • Higher usage in hot weather

Get the STP bar and chain oil on Amazon, at Walmart (gallon), or at AutoZone (gallon).

Our Verdict

Under most working conditions, the most important thing is to have bar oil in the reservoir regardless of the brand. So for most customers, the best bar oil is the one that works well in the widest range of conditions and comes at a reasonable price. That’s why we picked Oregon Chainsaw Bar and Chain Oil as the best overall.

For extreme heat or heavy-duty working conditions, paying a bit more for a top-end product can be a wise decision. A higher-quality oil provides better protection, flows more efficiently, and keeps your chainsaw running smoothly. When the cutting is more difficult, we recommend stepping up to Stihl Platinum Bar Oil.

How We Chose the Best Chainsaw Bar Oils

Not all chainsaw bar oils are formulated the same way. Some offer better overall protection than others for your expensive equipment, while others enhance functionality under specific working conditions. Our goal was to source and recommend bar oil formulations to address the most prevalent buyer concerns, including working in extreme temperatures, with dense wood, and within a budget.

The products we selected for this guide represent a combination of chainsaw manufacturer recommendations and products that have been highly rated by verified customers. Although it may be true that “some oil is better than no oil,” we feel that these products will deliver superior results.

FAQs

After reading up on our picks of the best chainsaw oil options, you may have a few questions about using them. Read on to learn more.

Q. What is chainsaw bar oil?

Chainsaw bar oil is a lubricant that protects the saw’s chain, bar, and sprockets from damage while cutting. It differs from engine oil in that it must be both viscous and tacky to withstand high heat caused by friction and adhere to the bar and chain at high speed.

Q. How much bar oil should a chainsaw use?

Bar oil usage varies with differences in the oil makeup and the saw. It is a good practice to top off the bar oil before starting work and during each fuel fill-up.

Q. Can I use motor oil or vegetable oil instead of bar oil?

Bar oil is chemically engineered to protect the saw’s cutting parts. Motor oil and vegetable oil may be tempting to use in a pinch, but they are not as effective. Using other products instead of bar oil may also void equipment warranties.

Q. How often do I need to refill bar oil?

Never run the reservoir dry. Be sure to top off the bar oil at the start of work and each time you stop to fill the fuel tank.