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Mushrooms Right from Your Farm
Apparently someone is selling a chainsaw bar oil that has mushroom spores in it. It is stated as a vegetable based oil. And people are apparently actually purchasing this, not understanding what, exactly, it is, or the probable effects.
No, I have not used this. No, I do not intend to. I do not need to use it to understand the science surrounding it.
I am a loggers daughter. I grew up around chainsaws, and was using one by the time I was a teenager to "bump knots" (cut limbs from trees that were felled by my father, in his logging business).
Bar oil is put in a reservoir in the chain saw, where it is dispensed onto the bar as the temperature of the bar rises. It is designed to keep the bar cool and lubricated.
So, there are five problems with this oil - which tell me purchasing it is not a good idea, and using it may be a serious problem.
1. Mushroom spores require air, and water, to grow. They don't exactly germinate like seeds do, but they are like a seed in that they have similar requirements, for food, moisture, air, and warmth to initiate growth.
Oil coats the spores. The moisture in the oil may evaporate, but the oil itself will not. It is likely that it will STOP the spores from initiating growth, because the spore will remain coated in oil, and unable to receive the air and moisture it needs.
So in the first place, the entire concept of putting spores in oil is flawed.
2. Now, bar oil on a chainsaw lubricates the groove between the chain and the bar. It does not drip from there, you will rarely even notice the presence of it while handling a saw. When the machine functions correctly it does not actually get onto the saw teeth. Not sufficient to be detectible anyway.
So in the second place, if it DID work, it would distribute insufficient spores to be effective.
3. Ever used a chainsaw? The reason for bar oil is to keep the bar cool, but it is like an engine and engine oil. Even WITH bar oil, the bar can get quite hot. Most mushroom spores will die in excess of 100 degrees (a few higher, many lower).
That groove in the bar where the oil is dispensed gets plenty hot as that chain whirls around. The teeth also generate tremendous heat as they chew through wood, and most of that is transferred to the base of the teeth.
So... even if the first two issues were not a problem, the spores would die anyway, due to being cooked on the chainsaw bar.
4. The last reason is the one that makes me tell people "No... it is NOT worth a try.".
Chainsaw bar oil is a variation on engine oil, which is formulated to dispense heat, and to NOT turn into glue at high heats.
Vegetable oil, on the other hand, will cause moving parts to seize at much lower temperatures. It is NOT designed to be used as a bar oil replacement. I do not know the formulation of the particular vegetable oil used, but I do know that vegetable based oils are not rated for high friction based heat applications. There are some IN DEVELOPMENT, but this is a LONG way from being usable.
Chances are, with a few uses you would not notice a problem. But with use with hardwoods (where more heat is generated), or a chain that was not properly sharpened, you could end up with significant damage to your chainsaw.
So even if it dispensed spores as promised, it would still not be a good idea.
5. Your chainsaw bar oil reservoir has bar oil in it. It is petroleum based, not vegetable based. I do not know what effect it would have on mushroom spores, but I suspect it would not be a good one.
So... IF you put the mycospore oil in the bar oil reservoir, you risk mixing the spore oil with petroleum based oil. Bad for the spores.
IF you put it on the bar, you over oil your bar, grease your chain, and that is not good because that slings oil where you do not want it on your chainsaw.
And if you put it in the reservoir, then it will contaminate your reservoir, causing potential problems with the efficiency of your bar oil for quite a while. You can't exactly clean out the reservoir and get the vegetable oil out.
So IF it did work, it would still not be a good idea to use it on a piece of equipment that you ever intended to revert to its original purpose, and it would be very difficult to not mix it with petroleum oils.
Basically, flawed idea all the way around. OH, it sounds cool, and is one of those neat sounding ideas that will undoubtedly continue to catch people's imaginations and pocketbooks for a while.
But if you understand chainsaws, and mushrooms, you pretty much know this is NOT a good idea, and that somebody out there knows this and is making money from it anyway.
Save your money.
There are easier (and cheaper) ways to sow mushrooms.