Can You Use Boiled Linseed Oil For Oil Painting?

Can You Use Boiled Linseed Oil For Oil PaintingIf you are a little to oil painting or you’ve simply never tried it before, then you’re probably wondering what all the fuss is about. Can you use boiled linseed oil for painting and if so, why would you? Boiled linseed oil is actually great stuff. You get a faster drying time and a smoother flow with it that makes it really nice to have around and to use. That said, with standard refined linseed oil and its slower speed then you have a bigger time window in which to work with your paints.

Today I’ll tell you a little more about using linseed oil for your painting, as well as what types are viable, and we’ll go a little more into the differences between boiled and your standard, everyday variety.

Without further ado, let’s wax loquacious about linseed!

What kind of linseed oil is used for oil painting?What kind of linseed oil is used for oil painting

The linseed oil that you are already familiar with is refined linseed oil. It’s the most popular medium around the world for using with oil paints and this is for good reason – you get some extended and reliable drying time.

This is extremely important when painting with your oils, as it gives you more time to mix up colors on the fly, right on your canvas, and with experience then you also have a pretty good idea of the drying rate of the different layers that you are slapping on to make your composition.

Each layer that is added on top of another needs to dry slower than the one underneath it, because if that top layer dries faster then the one that you painted before it is going to pull moisture from that layer above and you’ll end up with unsightly cracking.

With refined linseed oil and a lot of practice (and a lot of experience with cracking and cursing), you start to develop a feel for how long it will take layers of various thickness to dry and you can reliably gauge the process as you work.

Can you use any linseed oil for painting?

Can you use any linseed oil for paintingYes, any linseed oil will do, and you can find it in a few different varieties. The types of linseed that you will see most readily available are as follows:

  • Refined Linseed Oil – Somewhat of the ‘industry standard’, this is the linseed oil that is used the most and it’s produced by a steam-pressing process that helps to remove impurities. The resulting oil helps to add a little slow-drying along with a shiny and glossy look to your paints though it will eventually yellow a bit with age.
  • Boiled Linseed oil – Boiled linseed sounds simple, but it’s actually a composite of raw linseed oil, stand oil, and some additional additives for speedy drying that makes this a popular choice with some artists. This is also especially good for treating wood furniture as well.
  • Cold-pressed linseed oil – Paler and purer than the other listed linseeds, cold-pressed linseed oil gives you a little more shine and gloss, a faster drying time, and less yellowing than your standard refined variety.
  • Drying linseed oil – This linseed is darker in color than refined linseed and it’s specifically formulated for added gloss, smoother painting flow, and the fastest drying time.
  • Stand oil – Stand oil is a modified linseed oil that helps to minimize brushstrokes, improve color flow, and to slow drying time so that you have a bigger time window in which to work.


What is the actual difference between linseed oil & boiled linseed oil?What is the difference between linseed oil and boiled linseed oil

The biggest difference really comes out in the drying time. Boiled linseed oil dries a lot faster, so while it may be used for painting it is much more common to use refined linseed oil in your work so that you’ve got an appreciable amount of extra time to mix and blend on the canvas.

This is achieved by how the boiled linseed is prepared, which basically amounts to hot air being blown through the liquid to refine it to the point that the drying time is increased. In addition to this, other additives are sometimes included in boiled linseed oil in order to maximize the overall drying time. This makes it a perfect linseed oil for furniture and other woodwork, though it is also sometimes used in oil painting as well.

Some final words

Today I’ve talked a little about the different types of linseed oil out there to give you an idea of what can use with your paints. While you can certainly use boiled linseed oil for oil painting, refined linseed or stand oil is usually the preferred way to go, and boiled linseed is really the best fit for wood work and the like. You could certainly use it if you wanted, though, and get better flow time and a faster drying time.

If you would like to learn a little more about boiled linseed oil and it’s useful applications, then I’ll close this article with a 3rd party link that can tell you exactly that. It’s got some great information on using boiled linseed oil with metal and wood that I think you’ll find of interest.

Until next time, have fun trying out the different linseed oils… you never know when you might find your new favorite.