Jan 24

Green Contractor Secrets: All-Natural Chainsaw Lubricant

Clearing the trail Chainsaw

Lubrication is essential when using a chainsaw; the oil greases the chain and prevents it from seizing up while you work. So-called chainsaw oil ends up getting all over the work site and the sawdust created when you use the chainsaw, which means that it end up in the environment. It doesn’t stay with the saw. When you use a product designed for saw oiling, you release petroleum and other into the environment. Not only does this pollute, but the fine mist of petroleum oils may irritate your lungs, cause eczema or cause oil acne.There’s a greener way to keep your saw working properly without polluting the environment: vegetable oil.

Vegetable oil is all-natural and environmentally friendly. Whether it settles onto wood dust, the ground or your garage, it will not harm the environment. Unlike petroleum-based products, vegetable oil will biodegrade quickly. Veggie-based oils have a low vapor pressure so you will not inhale as much vegetable oil as chainsaw lubricant, nor will you experience respiratory problems should you breathe in this mist. Vegetable oil leads to fewer skin problems such as eczema, since its chemical composition is fairly similar to that of our natural skin oils. If you end up with oil particles on your work clothes, you’ll notice this green oil comes out better in the wash. One more bonus: It has low cost and high availability. You’ve probably got vegetable oil in your pantry right now, and if not you can pick some up for under $5.00.

But it’s not only these health reasons that recommend vegetable oil for chainsaws. The oil works just as well at keeping your chainsaw running and will not cause chain or bar wear over time. Experts recommend canola oil over other vegetable oils. Standard cooking oils perform well at temperatures as low as 13 below Fahrenheit. If you plan to use the saw in colder temperatures than these, try a veggie chain oil with additives to enhance cold climate performance. You’ll find this at your local hardware store or anywhere saw accessories are sold.

Working with Vegetable Oils

Fill both the oil and mix tanks with vegetable oil to make your switch. Since the oil is so pale, you may overfill the reservoir because you can’ see when the tank is full. Go slowly this first time to avoid messy cleanup. Vegetable oil is thinner than standard chainsaw lubricating oil, which may mean that oil leaks from the reservoir. For long-term storage, leave the saw’s oil reservoir empty. For short-term storage, tighten up the oiler flow screw should you notice any leaks.

Otherwise, use the canola oil as you would your standard bar oil. Check the tanks before use and add more oil when needed. If you run out of oil, your saw may seize up. Some users recommend cleaning oil-based residue from the saw with mineral spirits. You can do this every time you perform regular saw maintenance and cleaning, but need not do it every time you use your saw. Use either vegetable-based saw lubricating oil or straight-up canola oil.

U.S. agencies have tested and begun to adopt this greener approach. Both the United States Forest Service and forest Engineering Resource Institute of Canada have tested vegetable oils and found they perform comparable to traditional oils. Already, Point Reyes National Seashore and Denali National Park have made the green switch. Making the switch is easy, so add this simple change to your spring cleaning list. The benefits of switching far outweigh those of continuing to use a product that pollutes the earth and poses health risks.

About the author: Danielle writes on behalf of Sears and other brands she uses.

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