Raw Linseed Oil


Dear NH,
I am an artist and craftsperson. I was disappointed to hear you bash linseed oil as being unhealthy when, in fact, that is not true. It's humans who add the chemicals to "boiled" linseed oil. Instead, you could instruct your readers to use "raw" not "boiled" linseed oil and it's fine. No additives. It just takes awhile to dry.

Here's some further info from a GOV site:

"Boiled linseed, commonly used because it dries faster, is not a good pollution prevention alternative due to the potential toxicity of the solvents, metals and fungicides that are usually added to it. As a result, consumers should be advised to use raw linseed oil and to avoid boiled or thermalyzed forms."
JW from San Francisco, CA

JW,
No, I don't think linseed oil is a demon. My only problem with raw linseed oil, from a strictly "home repair point-of-view" (the only one I have), is that raw linseed oil dries very slowly. If I've received one, I've received a hundred inquiries about why the raw linseed oil coating on a deck or piece of furniture hasn't dried in weeks.

A minimum three-to-four day drying time for a sticky finish is not desirable for most outdoor projects. And that time extends when the surface is shaded or the temperature drops below 50 degrees. That's a long time for bugs, dirt, leaves and other interesting materials to adhere to it, making the surface look rather trashy.

I coated a deck with a commercial clear wood preservative with linseed oil as a prime ingredient. It was late in our season (November), but the client wanted the job done. Despite the addition of the chemicals, it was so cool that the deck still smelled of raw oil when things warmed up again in April!

Linseed oil products are primarily used outside the home because the activity of sunlight helps them to oxidize, which is the primary way that this oil dries. Of course, there are non-home repair uses for linseed oil, such as oil painting where the use of a slower drying oil is not necessarily a bad thing. In these cases where a person is in a room in a close relationship with the oil, use of raw linseed oil is desirable. Plus, my understanding is that other chemicals added to the oil such as pigments, thickeners, etc. have similar drying effects to those of the commercial "boiled" additives.

So I don't mean to demean linseed oil. The comment was simply a statement of the reality of boiled linseed oil for anyone who cared.
NH


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