How Green Is Your Chainsaw?

Chainsaw and bottle of canola oil

An eco-friendly chainsaw that runs vegetable oil for bar lubricant. Photograph by Todd Bryan PhotographyIf you haven’t done so already, start now and convert your chainsaw into a lean, mean, green, machine. Not only will your garden thank you, but so will the environment.

For anyone that has ever used a chainsaw, you know that they require more then just fuel or electricity. Chainsaws require bar and chain lubricant in order to keep the bar and chain oiled. Since chainsaws rotate the chain at very high RPM’s, the bar and chain oil ends up being sprayed into the environment. Now just think about when you use your chainsaw in the garden, not only does petroleum get slung all over your fruits and vegetables, but much of the oil becomes atomized into the air that you are breathing. Well that’s a problem since it’s a well known fact that petroleum based oil is a carcinogen. If you can smell it, you can be sure that you are polluting your lungs.

So how can I make my chainsaw more environmentally friendly and safer to use in my garden?

One thing you can do to eliminate breathing harmful petroleum based oils and keep them from being sprayed onto your precious fruits and vegetables, is to simply stop using them for bar and chain lubricant. Try using a vegetable oil instead. I did, and it works great! Canola oil is actually the most common environmentally compatible chain and bar lubricant.

Benefits of using Canola oil for bar and chain lubricant:

  • Earth friendly – Canola oil poses no threat to the environment
  • Safer for the operator – Canola-based chain oils have low vapor pressure, reducing the inhalation of oil mist created by high RPM’s of the saw.
  • Odorless – Canola oil does not smell like petroleum based oils do
  • Cost effective – Canola oil is cheaper than petroleum based oil
  • Renewable – Canola oil is a sustainable and renewable product
  • Highly available – Canola can be purchased at any local grocery store

Additionally, if your chainsaw happens to be powered by a 2-cycle gasoline engine, then you might also consider using an environmentally safe 2-cycle oil for mixing your fuel. One such product is G-Oil by Green Earth Technologies. I plan to put G-Oil to the test, replacing my petroleum based 2-cycle oil, as soon as my tank runs dry.

Are you sure that I can use Canola oil for chain lubricant in my chainsaw?

Absolutely! I recently started using vegetable oil to lubricate the chain and bar of my chainsaw, after two old apricot trees in the garden needed to be cut down and replaced. By switching to Canola oil for bar and chain lubricant, I was able to use the chainsaw in the garden and not worry about getting any petroleum based oil on my fruits and vegetables. So far, my experience has been 100% positive, and I have no reason to switch back to petroleum based oils. I simply love the fact that Canola oil is earth friendly in the garden, and that I don’t have to worry as much about breathing in petroleum based oil mist. The savings may be minimal, but any money saved is fine with me.

So is there anything else I should know about using Canola oil in my chainsaw?

Since Canola oil is thinner then petroleum based oil, you may need to adjust the oil flow for the bar. Ideally, your bar oil reservoir should consume product at about the same rate as the fuel tank. If you notice any leaking when the saw is sitting, or if the bar oil reservoir is running empty much sooner then your fuel tank, then you should adjust the oil flow screw. Not doing so is unnecessarily wasting oil. Also, I’ve noticed that it’s very easy to overfill the bar oil reservoir because the Canola oil is thin and almost clear in color. The reservoir fills quickly so take your time in order to avoid spillage.

Reminder: Canola oil is an earth friendly substitute for bar and chain lubricant only. DO NOT substitute your 2-cycle mix oil with Canola oil.

Are you using Canola oil on your chainsaw’s chain? Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts.

15 thoughts on “How Green Is Your Chainsaw?

    1. Thanks for the comment Tom. I agree, Canola oil works great and it’s so much friendlier in and around the garden. I don’t know about you, but I prefer not to sling petroleum based oil all over my fresh fruits and vegetables.

  1. Thanks for the article, Todd. One thing that people should care the most about when buying this kind of tool is safety and if it’s environmental friendly. Most chainsaws already have mechanisms in place to take care of the first one, but the second one can be enhanced with a good chain oil. I’ve not tried canola oil but from this article, it looks like the real deal.

  2. I am owning a Husqvarna chainsaw, so far it has done a great job. Speaking about the environment, the one that I own has promised to reduce the emission level thanks to lesser fuel consumption. However, I have not noticed about we can substitute the chain oil with vegetable oil, not until I stumbled upon your great post. Perhaps I should give it a try too 🙂

  3. Thanks for this beautifully written post with great knowledge. thanks for writing this piece. I learned a few things that will hopefully help me going forward.

  4. do you know if using Canola Oil in a battery operated chainsaw will affect the warranty in any way?

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