Biodegradable Chainsaw Oil

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It’s no secret that petroleum-based chainsaw oils (carcinogens) are bad for not only the environment, but also for the user’s health. When used, almost all of the liquid is absorbed into the surrounding environment, which can have adverse effects on the plant and animal life. Furthermore, they can damage the respiratory tract and general health of the operator. The sheer volume of fuel sprayed from the saw during use can be demonstrated by revving up over a piece of white paper. As a result, the use and accessibility of biodegradable oils is skyrocketing.Biodegradable oils are non-toxic and biodegrade very easily if spilled.

What’s not to love? Well, there have been many questions raised about their true virtues. Are they really environmentally friendly? Will using them damage my saw or put me in danger? Will they cost me more money? In order to dispel some of these fears and uncertainties, we have set out a ‘factfile’ of information, which will hopefully encourage you to reduce your carbon footprint.

Firstly, the big one:

Is Biodegradable Oil a Better Choice Than Petroleum-Based?

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  • Poses no threat to the environment.
  • Good natural properties similar to those of carcinogens.
  • Safer for the user due to low vapour pressure, and therefore less harmful inhalation.


  • Can be expensive and/ or less available to buy.
  • Some weaknesses in terms of oxidation stability and functioning in temperate conditions.

Natural vs. Synthetic Biodegradable Oil
Possibly the main questions asked upon deciding to go biodegradable is whether to opt for the natural or synthetic variety: Natural oil (e.g. rapeseed, sunflower or vegetable oils) is the most common:


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  • Poses no threat to the environment. It is the best type of oil for being non-toxic and for biodegradation speed.
  • Very good natural properties similar to those of carcinogens in terms of lubricity, protection etc.
  • Safe for saw operator due to low vapour pressure
  • Relatively inexpensive and widespread availability.


  • Doesn’t work so effectively at very high or very low temperatures. Not always suitable for temperate climates. This problem is caused by (warning: science) the type of fatty acids in the oil, and can be partially remedied by increasing the number of these acids.
  • Oxidation instability means it doesn’t provide the best protection for the chainsaw. This can be improved by adding oleic acids, however, it doesn’t fully solve the problem.

Synthetic biodegradable oils:


  • Function well in temperate climates.
  • Better oxidative stability, meaning the machinery is better protected.
  • Less expensive than natural biodegradable oils, although this depends on the type used.


  • Less environmentally friendly than natural oils, as it has a slower rate of biodegradation.


At it is clear that switching to biodegradable chainsaw is a worthwhile venture. Furthermore, it is possible to conclude that opting for natural oil would be more advantageous than for its synthetic counterpart. Although it has weaknesses, there are solutions to this, as well as constant progress being made in the science department for further improvement. More importantly, its environmentally-friendly nature makes it the ideal way to do your bit to protect the planet. . Possibly worth trying is Aspen fuel, which is available in both 2-stroke and 4-stroke form and is the first fuel in the UK developed specifically to protect the safety of the user and the environment. It can last up to 5 years, as well as coping very well in winter storage without damage to the machinery. Although this is a good option, it is definitely worth trying out various types in order to find one that suits you and your environment.

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