Linseed oil as a wood treatment

Do you know what linseed oil is used for? Do you know its benefits for wood and its usefulness when carving wood? Linseed oil is the most widely used oil because it is a natural, ecological and inexpensive treatment that nourishes the wood and makes it more resistant. I'll explain it all just below!

Anne-Laure CompainAnne-Laure Compain

Anne-Laure Compain

Nature Lovers
Published on 15 June 2022 (Updated on 31 January 2024)

Maybe you know this, but when you have just carved a wooden cup, object or kitchen utensil, you must apply a surface treatment to it. If the object you just carved is for food purposes like a spoon, plate or cup, you should make sure to use a natural and especially non-toxic treatment. Or, don't do any treatment at all and let the food grease do the treatment.

The benefits of linseed oil for wood

And if I start by explaining what flaxseed oil is? This oil is obtained by pressing hot or cold flax seeds that have been harvested and dried.

champ huile de lin
Beware, some linseed oils are not natural and contain solvents. They are reserved for industry and art. They should not be used for wooden objects made of food.

Once linseed oil is applied to wood, it will have a natural water-repellent film and will be protected against :

  • Moisture
  • Mold
  • Scratches
  • Insects
  • Dust
  • Cracks

Raw, hard or baked linseed oil, which one to choose for your wood?

Flaxseed oil is most commonly found in the following forms:

  • Cooked linseed oil
  • Raw linseed oil
  • Drying linseed oil
  • Hard linseed oil

Raw linseed oil

You will also find raw flaxseed oil under the name "clarified flaxseed oil". This is an oil that has been made by cold pressing the flax seeds, without any cooking.

It has a better penetration and a lighter color when exposed to the sun.

Note that over time, raw linseed oil tends to yellow. And, it also takes a long time to dry!

Cooked linseed oil

The cooked linseed oil or linseed oil stand oil is obtained, contrary to the clarified linseed oil, by pressing the linseed hot by polymerization at a temperature above 280 ° C.

It is known for its high resistance but beware, it penetrates less well into the wood.

Hard flaxseed oil

Natural hard linseed oil is not only composed of flax, it also contains plant and trace elements. Like baked oil, it is not very penetrating but has a short drying time.

Drying linseed oil

Drying means faster drying. To do this, manganese or cobalt is added to linseed oil. These are natural active ingredients that will bring more resistance and quicker drying to the linseed oil.

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How to apply linseed oil on wood?

Linseed oil can be applied to all types of wood. However, if you don't want your teak to blacken irreparably, I advise you to forget to apply linseed oil.

For all other species, you can apply linseed oil to your wood with a soft cloth or a brush. It depends on the surface you have to cover. For a kuksa for example, a soft cloth is more than enough!

Clean the surface

Remove all traces of dust, water or food. You can also, if the wood needs it, lightly sand it with fine sandpaper to make it smooth. Always sand in the direction of the wood.

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Apply a first coat

When applying oil to wood, you should apply it in the direction of the wood and, if possible, without stopping to make sure you get an even finish. You can either apply it with a soft cloth or with a brush. It depends on the surface you have to cover. For a flat surface, I recommend the brush, while for a surface like a spoon or a cup, I recommend using a cloth.

A little tip: if your linseed oil is too thick and difficult to spread, you can heat it slightly in a double boiler so that it is warm and easy to apply.
appliquer huile lin chiffon

Add material

If you see that in some places the wood is not saturated with oil, don't hesitate to apply more, you can remove the excess later.

If you have small objects to oil such as kitchen utensils or cups, you can bathe them in linseed oil.
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Let it dry

The drying time can vary from simple to double depending on the location of the wood (heat of the room and humidity). It can take from 12 to 24 hours.

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You can see on many sites that it is possible to mix linseed oil with turpentine because it accelerates the hardening of the wood. Personally, I don't recommend it because it won't hold up as well as pure linseed oil.

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How long does it take linseed oil to dry on wood?

As mentioned above, the drying time varies greatly. It will depend on the oil used and the place of drying. A warm room with good air circulation is best.

You can also use cooked rather than raw linseed oil to speed up the drying process. Or use drying agents to speed up the drying process. Finally, you can remove the excess oil a few minutes after the start of drying.

Does linseed oil stain wood?

Yes, as it dries and ages, linseed oil will darken the wood. It has a yellow tint, light for raw oil and more pronounced for cooked oil.

You have the possibility to lighten your oil, I explain it just below.

Some tips on linseed oil and wood

  • How to lighten linseed oil?

    If you have used baked linseed oil, you may have noticed that the wood has taken on a yellowish color. If you don't like this color, you can either find a lighter baked linseed oil or let the oil bleach by putting it in the sun.

  • How to color linseed oil?

    Linseed oil goes very well with liquid or granulated walnut stain and will darken the color of the wood. Prepare half a liter of water and mix it with 100g of granulated walnut stain. Once dissolved, take 10ml of your mixture and add it to 200ml of linseed oil previously heated in a water bath. Apply it to your wood and watch it darken.

  • Is flaxseed oil toxic?

    No, linseed oil is not toxic. What is toxic are all the solvents that you can add to it or that will be added in the market. That's why, for kitchen utensils or a kuksa, I advise you to use natural cooked or raw linseed oil alone, without solvents or drying gas pedal.

  • What to do with your rags after use?

    Rags and papers soaked in linseed oil can spontaneously combust if not picked up. Therefore, you should always wet them and put them in a plastic bag after you finish your work. As for your brushes, wash them with water and black soap.

Linseed oil and kuksa

Linseed oil is the most commonly used oil for kitchen utensils and wooden dishes. However, it can give off a taste, especially when in contact with hot liquids. Thus a taste of coffee will be felt. But this taste will fade and go away as you use the kuksa.

If you don't want to have this coffee taste the first time you use your kuksa, don't treat the inside of your cup, only the outside! For the inside, treat your kuksa with coffee grounds.

The decoration of the kuksa

For kitchen utensils, dishes and wooden cups, it is advisable to use artistic linseed oil paint. It is a very concentrated paint. It is therefore possible to mix it with cooked linseed oil to make it easier and more pleasant to use.

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Alternatives to linseed oil

Beeswax oil

The mixture of beeswax and linseed oil is a mixture that will both :

  • Penetrate the wood
  • Protect the surface
  • Adds shine

To make this mixture and use it for food products, you need to make sure the beeswax and linseed oil are non-toxic and do not contain solvents.

Otherwise, you can make it yourself!

  1. Heat 1/4 beeswax and 3/4 raw linseed oil in a saucepan.
  2. Stir your mixture until the wax melts and mixes evenly with the flaxseed oil
  3. Pour the mixture into a sterilized glass jar and let it sit overnight with the lid removed.
To store, store the oil in a cool, dark place.

Kerosene oil

Unlike linseed oil, kerosene oil is completely transparent, odorless and tasteless. Now you're thinking, this is the perfect oil! Well, yes and no.

Kerosene oil is a petroleum product, not at all natural! However, this oil is non-toxic, so it can be used to oil food woods.

Secondly, kerosene oil does not harden the wood, it will only grease it so that it becomes waterproof. With time, the oil will come off and a new treatment will have to be done.

This oil is good when you want to keep the color of a wood light because it will not change its shade.
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