Linseed oil is a clear, yellowish, or amber-colored oil extracted from the dried seeds of the flax plant. Find out the difference between the raw and boiled variants along with some of their uses from the following article.
Both linseed and flaxseed oil are extracted from dried flax seeds, but the ways of extraction are different. Linseed oil is popular for its medicinal and industrial uses. It is usually extracted from the cotyledons and inner coats of the linseed using a solvent. This oil is obtained by heating and treating flax seeds with chemicals. Flaxseed oil without solvent extraction is also known as raw or cold-pressed linseed oil.
The procedure of obtaining the oil plays a vital role in deciding the use of the oil. Flaxseed oil is not recommended for cooking, but it is used as a nutritional supplement. It is packed with omega 3 fatty acid which is beneficial for the human body. Linseed oil has been used for centuries as a drying oil in oil paintings and for varnishing wooden furniture.
Flax fiber is soft, lustrous, and flexible in nature and has multiple uses. It is stronger than cotton fiber but less elastic. The best quality flax fiber is used for linen fabrics. Twine and ropes are made from coarser fiber. Flax fiber is also used for the manufacturing of high quality paper, currency notes, and cigarette paper.
Raw Vs. Boiled
Although boiled linseed oil is named so, it is not actually boiled. Certain solvents are added to this oil which causes it to dry more quickly. It is also dried by blowing hot air through the liquid. This makes it a better product for specific uses. It has a bitter taste and an unpleasant odor. This oil has a more attractive darker finish but with a reddish tint. It gives a slightly glossy film. The use of boiled linseed oil for oak wood is not recommended.
The color of the raw linseed oil, squeezed from the flax seeds by hydraulic pressure is pale. It is odorless and tasteless. It is packaged with no additional additives or preservatives. It takes a longer time to dry, and weeks to fully cure. This slow-drying property can be a benefit for oil-based paints, as it gives a smoother finish with fewer brush marks. However, the same property is not desirable while using the oil for preserving wooden items that are handled or walked on, for instance tool handles, furniture, or wood decks.
- Animal feeds
- Synthetic resins
- Cricket bats
- Sealants used to form a hard coating on a porous surface (as a coat of paint or varnish used to size a surface)
- Sealing terracotta tiles
- Adobe and earthen floors
- Preserving tool handles, decks, and furniture with linseed oil wood finish
- Putty that is used especially to patch woodwork or secure panes of glass
- Caulking compounds which act as waterproof fillers and sealants, used in building and repair, to make the surface watertight
- Linseed oil paint, for the manufacturing of oilcloth
- Bicycle maintenance as a thread fixative, rust inhibitor, and lubricant
- Industrial lubricant
- Particle detectors
- Leather treatment
- Foundry products
- Brake linings
- Oil paints, polishes, varnishes
- Composition ornament for molded decoration
- Restoring and enhancing tired wood
- Animal care products
- Skin strengthening (well absorbed by skin)
- Reducing redness of the skin
- Cosmetic manufacturing
- Massage therapy
- Aroma therapy
- Linseed oil is capable of dissolving other substances, thereby making it highly useful for industrial applications.
- It has good preservative properties and water resistance.
- Addition of solvents such as mineral spirits, Japan drier, and turpentine helps it dry faster, making it a more useful product.
- The oil can encourage mildew growth.
- It does not provide any UV light protection for wood.
- It is very difficult to remove multiple coats of linseed oil which become gummy, for refinishing of the wood.
- The drying time taken by the oil is almost unpredictable, depending upon the various factors involved.
- A pile of rags or paper towels soaked with this oil can actually start burning without warning. Hence, such rags should be stored under water in a covered metal container or washed before storage or disposal.
- The oil does not harden sufficiently. If it is used for interior wooden floors, it needs to be coated with wax for durability.
- Many linseed oil containers are printed with the following warning sign: ‘Use of this product will expose you to arsenic, beryllium, chromium, cadmium, and nickel, which are known to cause cancer, and lead which is known to cause birth defects and other reproductive disorders.’
The oil available in hardware stores is not suitable for human consumption, while the variety available in health food stores is completely different and used as an omega-3 supplement.