Can Chainsaw Oil Go Bad?

You are probably asking this question because your chainsaw oil has thickened over the winter or you have had it in your garage for a very long time. Well, the good news is that chainsaw oils have a 4 – 6 year lifespan and there are oils suited for cold weather.

Some chainsaw owners often wonder if the oil can go bad in chainsaws. The answer is that chainsaw oils are designed to withstand a certain amount of heat and can last for up to three years. They also contain additives that help lubricate the chain in order to prevent it from getting stuck or catching on something.

Chainsaws typically come with a full quart of fresh new chain saw engine oil already inside, which means they do not need to be refilled for quite some time.

Chainsaw oils serve two primary functions. The first being a lubricant to ease up friction between the chain and the wood it is cutting and the second being part of the fuel mix needed to run your gas-powered chainsaw. The most common oil used in chainsaws is two-stroke oil. They are named after the two-stroke engines which they lubricate.


What Size Of A Chainsaw Do I Need To Cut Down A Tree?


If you notice your chainsaw oil is becoming too thick, this could be an indication that it may have oxidized and gone bad. 

Oxidation is a process by which oxygen is added to a substance. When two-stroke oil comes in contact with air, it oxidizes. To have chainsaw oil with a long-lasting storage life, its oxidation rate must very slow. Several factors affect its oxidation rate such as:

  • The base constituent: Base constituents such as highly refined mineral oils, castor oil, silicon-based oils, synthetic oils, or petroleum reduce the rate of oxidation. However, inorganic oils and lower grade mineral oils increase their rate of oxidation.
  • Additives: Additives to the oil also affect its oxidation rate. For instance, rust and oxidation (R & O) additives reduce it while extreme pressure (EP) additives increase it.
  • Thickeners: The presence of thickeners in chainsaw oils reduces its storage life. Therefore, you should select those that have no thickeners. 
  • Exposure to air: This is one sure-fire way to get your chainsaw oil to go bad pretty quickly. It would react to the abundant level of oxygen present in the air.
  • Temperature: Temperature is one of the environmental conditions that affect the stability of chainsaw oils. When you purchase them, their label usually specifies their appropriate storage conditions. 
  • Storage containers: Oils should be preferably stored in plastics as it contributes significantly in increasing its shelf life.
  • Agitation: Oil should be allowed to settle as constant agitation increases the oil’s surface area that will be in contact with air. It makes it mix with air some more thereby increasing its oxidation rate.
  • Humidity: This is loosely defined as the amount of water trapped in the air. The higher the humidity, the higher the water ratio in the atmosphere, the higher the amount of oxygen present in the air since it makes up 25% of water.

How to Store your Chainsaw Oil in the Winter

Ideally, two-stroke oils should be stored between 40 degrees and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. However, during the winter months, both the thickness and viscosity of the oil are affected. The oil gets thicker and the viscosity reduces. Both of which have an adverse effect on the engine.

See also  Chain Keeps Coming off Chainsaw


Can Chainsaw Oil Go Bad?


The chainsaw will most likely not start up or the chains would wear easily. Some chainsaw oil manufacturers such as Stihl create chainsaw oils that are suited for very low temperatures.

However, if you’ve got non-winter chainsaw oils in abundant supply and winter is coming, you should know how to store them properly.

  • Do not store it in a damp area. Remember that damp areas are very humid and this could increase the oxidation rate of your oil.
  • Always ensure that your oil containers are properly sealed and the oil is not at risk of being exposed to the atmosphere.
  • It should not be exposed to contaminants such as dust or rust as they both degrade oil easily.
  • Do not store chainsaw oil within chainsaws as you could have fuel leaks and pressure buildups within the chainsaw’s tank.

Effect of Using Bad Chainsaw Oils

Chainsaw oils that have expired usually begin to break down and have low viscosity. Using them in chainsaws could result in overheating, performance problems, improper clutch engagement, power loss, and fuel vapor lock to name a few. It could also result in the deterioration of parts of the engine such as the carburetor, fuel line, and gasket. 

About Biodegradable Chainsaw Oils

These have become all the rage among arborists, tree surgeons, and DIYers because of the huge environmental impact they play. Two-stroke oils and other fuel mixes when burnt release harmful emissions into the atmosphere. They are also carcinogenic.  Biodegradable oils, however, do not pose this problem.

See also  What is the Lifespan of a Chainsaw Chain? (2024)

They are:

Effective: They are highly viscous which makes them perfect for lubricating chainsaws.

Safe to use: Their emissions are not easily inhaled by chainsaw operators because they have anti-fling properties that direct them quickly away from their paths.

Environmental friendly: Seeing as they are biodegradable, they pose no harm to the environment because they are non-toxic.

Affordable: These oils are affordable, available at all locations, can withstand extreme temperatures not to mention that a little of it goes a long way.  

Best Oil Recommendations for your Chainsaw 

Stihl Winter Bar and Chain Oil: As I stated earlier and can’t stress out well enough, the Stihl winter chain oil is a high-performance oil suited to withstand the adverse winter climate. It is a guaranteed oil to keep your chainsaw up and running as well as lubricated during the winter. During the warmer months, you can switch to other high viscous oils.

Husqvarna Bar and Chain Oil: Many argue that this is the best. It is most definitely popular and is suitable for use in any weather. It can maintain its viscosity at extreme temperatures thus reducing the effects of friction on your chainsaw.

Oregon Bar and Chain Oil: Another popular product from the chainsaw hitmaker, this oil is suited for cordless chainsaws. It is a thin type of oil that is used to maximize engine power. It keeps chains well lubricated so they last for a very long time.

NV Earth Biodegradable Chain and Bar Oil: This is made from seed oils. It is highly effective and environmentally friendly. However, to get the most out of it, you will have to remove all traces of petroleum-based oils from your oiler because it affects its composition.

See also  Are Chainsaws Dangerous? Safety Tips to Live By

In conclusion, chainsaw oils need to be well preserved so they do not go bad easily. A lot of factors control its rate of oxidization. The importance of chainsaw oils cannot be said well enough. The secret to a long-lasting chainsaw is constant lubrication using recommended chainsaw oils instructed by your user’s manual.