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Boiled Linseed Oil: For Wood and Metal

About Boiled Linseed Oil

Found in most woodworker’s workshops, as well as in trade shops up and down the UK, boiled linseed oil is a popular product at Rawlins Paints.

Also known as BLO (an acronym of Boiled Linseed Oil), this wood treatment is an oil treatment primarily for interior use, which leaves a lovely and smooth finish on a wooden surface – almost with a wet look. Like the kiss of life, it can transform old, worn out and dried wood to better its former glory.

Fun Fact: This type of linseed oil used to be a common addition to most paints. Still available from specialist companies, it can still, on its own, be mixed with other finishes – click here to skip recommended products and to continue reading.

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There are other wood finishes that treat surfaces in a different way, such as waxes, which ‘set’ the surface, sitting on it and buffing it to the desired finish. There are also other types of linseed oil, including pure linseed oil and polymerized linseed oil (which has been half treated). At Rawlins Paints we stock traditional wood oils (Danish, Teak, Linseed) and newer, advanced, next-generation wood products (Rubio Monocoat, Osmo, Lacq) that are much more user-friendly and combine the advantages of oils, waxes, and varnishes in one tin.

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Click to read:

  1. Boiled Linseed Oil – Its Many Uses
  2. How to Apply Boiled Linseed Oil
  3. The Dried Out Finish
  4. Removing Boiled Linseed Oil
  5. Boiled Linseed Oil – Product Focus
  6. Health and Safety

Boiled Linseed Oil – Its Many Uses

Deceptively recognised as a wood treatment, it can also be used on metal.

BLO protects wooden surfaces with its deep penetration, soaking into the grain and bringing out added contrast and character. Rather than being a surface treatment, boiled linseed oil soaks deep into the wooden fibres, to the core of smaller depth pieces of wood, strengthening it throughout.

You may find it used on:

  • Tables, chairs and other furniture
  • Guitars – electric and acoustic, on the body and neck
  • Flooring
  • Bannisters and handrails
  • Cabinets, cupboards and worktops
  • Rifles
  • Interior decking and seating – boats and caravans
  • Garden benches
  • Interior and exterior doors
  • Speaker cabinets
  • Dinner trays
  • Wooden models and craft items, such as cars and jewellery boxes
  • Shelving and mantelpieces
  • Toy boxes, chests and trunks
  • Breadbins
  • Structural beams
  • Old tool handles
  • Ornate decorations on bedsteads, cradles and cots
Boiled linseed oil can transform ornately decorated wood

We stock products that offer decorative and protective finishes

Fun Fact: Boiled linseed oil has not actually been boiled, but is chemically modified with metallic solvents for faster drying times. Standard or raw linseed oil can take weeks to dry, sometimes longer – making that the main difference between the two types of linseed oil.

It’s not just wood that boiled linseed oil protects, it also helps preserve metal, by protecting the surface from oxidation. Thin coatings work best, as thicker application coatings can take longer to dry and get, what is known in the trade, as ‘gummy’.

Generally, only applied to non-moving parts of workshop tools, such as chisels, block planes, screwdrivers or treasured (and no longer used) heirloom tools, it can also be used on cast iron surfaces of bigger tools – table and band saws for example.

Use boiled linseed oil to restore old metal tools

Whatever the project, shop at Rawlins for protective finishes

How to Apply Boiled Linseed Oil

Boiled linseed oil is applied with a rag, or a similar buffering cloth. This is dipped into the linseed oil and rubbed into the wood – straight up and down the grain, or in slow buffering circles. Gloves should be worn at all time during the handling and application process of linseed oils.

Remember, as discussed earlier, to apply thin layers and not at any point by pouring the boiled linseed oil onto a surface.

Where possible, as with all paints and wood finishes sold at Rawlins Paints, it is best to test boiled linseed oil on a small area first, before applying full coverage. It may take between 24-72 hours for BLO to fully cure, or dry out to the touch.

Dry, bare wood is like a sponge and will soak up almost anything applied to its surface, and boiled linseed oil is one of many interior and exterior wood preparation products available, and acts as a good wood sealer to make surfaces much more water resistant.

Nearly all wooden surfaces will contract and expand through humidity and seasonal weather, which is where this type of linseed oil is great, as it is flexible and will continue to protect the wood through these changes over time.

The Dried Out Finish

Similar to some other solvent based products, boiled linseed oil is cured by its interaction and chemical reaction with oxygen. Water based paints and products ‘cure’ by water evaporating, emitting low VOCs and are not heat reactive to the touch. BLO when it dries does create heat, in part of its chemical reaction with oxygen. Because of this there may be recommendations on a product for drying out (curing time) exposure to sunlight or other heat sources (ovens, radiators, naked flames).

Chemistry states that lower usage of the product will create lower heat generating reactions, compared to larger application areas and density of the coating treatment creating potentially much bigger heat generation risk.

Removing Boiled Linseed Oil

The best technique to prepare a wooden surface for a treatment other than boiled linseed oil is to use sandpaper and a lot of elbow grease. As the oil soaks deep into the wood, you’ll be looking to prepare only the surface’s cured coating, removing as much of the linseed oil as possible.

Boiled Linseed Oil – Product Focus

Blackfriar’s boiled linseed oil works very well on most woods, with the exception of oak, and can be used inside and outside on soft and hard woods. Leaving a ruby ‘tint’ to a bare wood surface, it is water resistant and has a light gloss finish. As well as sealing woods, it works as a softener for metal glazing putty. Every workshop should have a canister of Blackfriar’s boiled linseed oil in a cupboard.

Health and Safety

Boiled linseed oil does come with a strong warning that it is a very flammable material and incorrect storage can lead to spontaneous combustion. All product datasheets should indicate strict storage recommendations – including temperature, humidity, sunlight exposure, etc. for the storage area. If in doubt, please contact us prior to ‘forgetting’ about it and leaving it in an unsuitable environment.

Do not store boiled linseed oil in anything but the metal container it is packaged in. For application purposes, plastic containers can be used – for ease of use – but never simply cover and store the plastic tubs.

One application method is to use a dry rag. After use, however, lay flat the rag on a non-flammable surface (concrete), away from potential heat/flame sources, until dry. Alternately, like the oil itself, the rag can be stored in a metal container. Never discard a used rag, as this can be a huge fire risk – the ‘screwed up’ and discarded rag can be a lot more heat reactive and combustible due to lack of air ventilation to cool the oil down. Used rags can be flash points, and at all times through the preparation, usage and cleaning-away process, all materials must be considered fire risks if inappropriately used and stored.

Fun Fact: When Tutankhamun was buried, the linen clothes that embalmed him were covered in linseed oil – but due to it being a rushed ‘ceremony’, the linseed oil did not have sufficient curing time and it may have spontaneously combusted. Let that be a warning to cleaning out the rags used to apply boiled linseed oil!

56 comments

  1. my sons and I are whittling and carving walking sticks. We’d like to maintain the beautiful natural color of the wood. Which product or oil would you recommend that will both preserve the natural coloration, while also providing adequate protection for the wood?
    Thank you kindly.

  2. We are in the process of repainting our castle entry iron doors and were wondering if the boiled linseed oil would help to protect the doors after the final coat of paint is applied. The plan was rag apply to the doors and not brush on. Please reply back with any thoughts or other recommendations. Thanks, Jim

    • Hi Jim,

      Linseed Oil has to penetrate in to timber to provide the protection so would not be suitable for application over a painted surface. We could offer Rust-Oleum 4900 Polycoat 2K as a clear coating to be applied over a painted surface for extra durability.

      Hope that helps – feel free to come back to us if you require any further help.

  3. Hi,

    I am looking for a suitable oil to apply to some old oak doors on our local church. I was recommended linseed oil by the architect but your guidance says not to use on external oak. The doors are over 100 years old so are well weathered. One is protected by a porch but the other is not. The church is grade 2 listed so the appearance should not be changed dramatically.

    What would you recommend ?

    Thanks

    • Good afternoon Keith,

      We would recommend Coo-Var Danish Oil for this – which you can find here.

      Coo-Var Danish Oil is a hard, durable, water resistant seal for the enhancement of interior and exterior wood. It contains tung oil, and is ideal for use on mahogany, teak and most other timbers.

      Please let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.

      Best regards.

      Mark

  4. Hello, I have been told to apply linseed oil to the rubber seals of uPVC window to eliminate draughts. Is this advisable please

    • Hi John,

      We have checked with our suppliers and they are not familiar with the process, so we couldn’t recommend Linseed Oil for this application.

  5. I am refurbishing some vintage kitchen scales. They have a tinned steel pan on top . The tinning is worn through in places. I am considering using a thin cost of BLO to give an attractive and protective finish. The scales will be primarily for display but an occasional use , just for the tradition, may be the case. Your thoughts on BLO.

    • Hi David,

      We can only recommend the use of boiled linseed oil on timber. There are instances where it can be applied to metal such as workshop tools, but you would need to contact the manufacturer of the item to check compatibility.

  6. Good day,

    I have a sliding glass door with a wooden frame. Would you recommend BLO or some other finish to keep the natural beauty and increase weather resistance. The door is in the living room (we have natural wood trim and baseboards) so a natural finish is preferred.
    Thanks,

    • Hello Eric,

      As we’re unsure which wood the frame is made from, we would recommend using Blackfriar Danish Oil. This may be used inside or out, contains a UV protector and gives a satin lustre finish to the wood.

      The manufacturer says that 4 coats should be applied at a coverage rate of approximately 14m2/L/coat.

      Hope that helps – certainly come back to us if you need any further help.

  7. Hi,

    I am planning to renovate a G-Plan Teak dining table and chairs – would welcome any advice on preparation and which products to use.

    Thanks Garry

    • Hi Garry,

      My apologies for the delay in answering your question; surfaces should be clean, dry, sound and free of contaminants. Sandpaper can be used to remove any unwanted coatings or paint and it should then be left to dry for 1-2 weeks before applying Coo-Var Siliconised Teak Oil.

  8. How long should boiled linseed oil cure after application before applying wipe on polyurethane?

    • Hello Peter,

      The Boiled Linseed Oil would need to be fully cured and ideally be weathered; if it is freshly applied Boiled Linseed Oil we would recommend allowing a minimum of 7 days before applying anything over it and would recommend trial application to ensure adequate adhesion and absorption of the wipe on polyurethane is achieved.

  9. i have recently built a work bench and used boiled linseed oil to finish the wood, its the wood more flammable while the linseed oil dries? All rags have been safely disposed, I am just curious about the wooden bench being a fire hazard.

    • Hi Douglas,

      Thanks for your message. Boiled Linseed Oil is white spirit based and as such, the coating would be flammable. Oils applied to a timber surface are designed to not fully, physically dry so in short, the use of an oil could increase the flammability risk of the bench. We haven’t fire resistant coatings or systems that would be suitable for application over the oil, we could offer a treatment for application on bare timber but this can only be overcoated with a water based topcoat, not oil based: Zeroflame Fire Retardant Treatment.

  10. Hello
    I use indoor teak wood for decoration in the living room, the wood was varnished and painted .
    One big problem is that the wood now full of kind of white dust!!!!
    I have used vaseline, cleaning soap, to remove , it removed and the day after it returned back . I do not know how to deal with that problem.
    Please advise.

    • Hi Sabera,

      This sounds like efflorescence coming through due to moisture from behind. No simple solution to this I’m afraid, it would be a case of removing the timber, treating the moisture issue behind and then try to clean the timber and let it dry out so it can be reinstalled. Worst case scenario is the timber needs replacing.

  11. Hello, I have many pieces of furniture made of rimu pine from NZ. I have sanded the tops back to a raw finish with fine sandpaper. The rest I have given a light sand to remove the shine. The manufacturer said originally the furniture was oiled with a 10% lacquer finish. They suggested boiled linseed oil and then a wax. I am worried the colours of the furniture will not blend as parts are raw and other parts not. what do you suggest.

    • Hi Gina,

      We’d recommend preparing the remainder of the furniture to match the top so the base colour is the same prior to application of a finish.

  12. We have fixed some oak faced plywood to the frontage of the alter area in my local church and would like to deepen the colour to something closer to the main alter which is a 100 year old golden oak hue. Clearly we won’t be able to get a close match and so far we have applied 3 coats of boiler linseed oil which has certainly coloured the bare plywood but would like something a little deeper /darker tone. What wood oils would you suggest might be applied over the BDO to help us achieve a deeper tone? Is teak oil or danish oil naturally darker?
    Thanks for your time and consideration.
    John Garvey

    • Hello John,

      Thank you for your comment.

      With these types of oil, they are predominantly clear so are really used to bring out the natural colour of the timber they are being applied to. The timber will only darken as much as the tannins in the timber will allow it to without applying a coloured varnish or oil.

      We currently have nothing we could recommend for application over the existing finish that has been applied I’m afraid.

  13. Is boiled linseed oil good for & better than stain for a picnic table that is out side. I just built it out of hemlock. Thank you.

    • Hi Phil,

      Providing you would be happy with the Ruby coloured hue you would get from using Linseed Oil then yes, we’d recommend it over a stain for this kind of application.

      If we can be of any further help then please do ask.

  14. I have a 1932 Chevy. The frame of the body is made of oak and is dried and shrunk. Will linseed oil help to expand the wood if I apply several coats?

    • Hi Greg,

      Thank you for getting in touch. Unfortunately, we aren’t able to advise on this particular application with it being a specialist automotive project.

      Apologies we haven’t been able to assist on this occasion. If you have any other questions, please feel free to get in touch and we will do our best to help.

  15. We have a teak frame window in the kitchen and bathroom. We have lived in the house for 35 years and have not done anything with them ourselves. They are beginning to show their age and I would like to put some oil on them to freshen them up, especially now that we are getting a new kitchen installed soon. Which oil would you recommend?

    • Hi Kath,

      Thank you for your question. We have recently started stocking the Osmo range of wood care products which are excellent. We would recommend Osmo Decking-Oil as it is specifically designed for tropical woods such a Teak.

      You can either use Teak Oil 007 which is a clear oil with no UV Protection or you could also choose Bangkaria 006 which is pigmented and offers good UV protection.

      Ensure the timber is sanded to no higher than P80, and the surface is washed with Methylated Spirit at least three times to degrease any natural resins.

      Then apply two fine brush coats working the oil into the wood rather than laying it on.

      I hope this helps, and feel free to get back in touch if you require any further advice.

      • Hi Stuart, thanks for your quick response. I didn’t specify in my question that I am asking about the internal wood only. Does this make any difference to your response?

        • Hi Kath,

          Thanks for getting back in touch.

          No problem at all, really happy to help.

          The Osmo Decking-Oil would be our recommendation for interior use also as it is designed for use on the type of timber used for your window frames.

          Thanks again and I hope that helps, feel free to get in touch if we can assist any further.

  16. Stephen Mackintosh

    I have laid a 23 square metre oak parquet floor, using batches of antique and more recent pre-used blocks in a geometric layout that seeks to take advantage of the different characteristics of the different batches of blocks, hopefully to enhance the overall design effect when oiled/finished.

    Thus far, the floor iis ready for final sanding. I have been using P80-grit abrasive sheets in the floor sander, and I expect to use the same for the final sanding. I would appreciate your comment!

    Having also prepared a separate trial panel, I have tried boiled linseed oil and teak oil for comparison. The houseowner prefers the warmer shades produced by boiled linseed oiil.

    Your most informative guidance recommends several coats of boiled linseed oil, carefully applied, but with no need for a final varnish/sealer, but it also casts doubt upon using boiled linseed oil with oak.

    I would greatly appreciate your advice.

    Thanks and regards!

    • Hi Stephen,

      Thanks for your comment; We are in the process of updating our advice in this article, as we have many new wood oils and products recently available since first publishing.

      For an Oak Floor we would recommend that the floor be sanded to higher than P120 before applying 2 coats of Osmo Polyx Oil which is available in Matt, Satin or Gloss. This would need to be brushed in to the wood until you’re unable to mark the surface with your finger.

      Hope that helps; if you need any further help then feel free to come back to me on here, or speak to our technical team directly on 0113 2455450 (option 2) or send a message to [email protected].

      Thanks,

      Kyle.

  17. Stephen Mackintosh

    Thank you, Kyle. I have taken your advice, firstly by acquiring some P150 sanding sheet for a better finish to the sanded floor. then by researching Osmo Polyx-Oil (hard wax oil) including discussion with your technical team.

    I have then ordered a 2.5L tin of tinted (Honey) Polyx-Oil (satin finish) which should be enough for the required two coats to the 23 square metre oak parquet floor, and which, going by the illustrations, seems likely to give a suitable shade.

    However, I have also ordered sample quantities of clear, honey and amber to try out on a separate test panel before committing to oiling the whole floor with the honey tint.

    Regards

    Stephen

    • That’s great to hear, Stephen. Glad to help, best of luck with the floor, and of course, feel free to contact our technical team at any point if you need advice.

      Kyle.

  18. I’m about to lay some Terracotta flooring and treat it with boiled linseed and white spirit 50:50.
    The suppliers have said that, due to the nature of Terracotta, salts and minerals present within the tiles may rise to the surface during the fixing process. And that it may be necessary for this efflorescence to be removed with a diluted cleaner.
    My concern is that the cleaner is water based and the terracotta should be completely dry before applying the linseed, but it will possibly take days to dry out.
    So I’m a little uncertain as to the best way to proceed. Do you have any experience of this?

    • Hi Dominic,

      Many thanks for getting in touch. In this instance as the surface would need cleaning, it would need to be left to dry completely before any type of coating is applied.

      Unfortunately there is no way around this due to the nature of Terracotta.

      Thanks so much for your question and we hope this helps, please feel free to get in touch if you have any further questions.

      Kindest regards
      Stuart

  19. So please – why is this not suitable for oak ? I bought it for the oak handle of my gardening fork ,which is probably Victorian and really has to be looked after . Now I read that it is great for all wood types EXCEPT oak !
    What do you recommend for my Oak handled gardening fork please ?

    • Hi Daisy,

      Thank you very much for getting in touch and for your question. Oak is a dense timber and as a result linseed oil struggles to penetrate deep enough in to the pores to give it any longevity.

      For exterior oak we would normally recommend the use of a danish oil instead such as Coo-Var Danish Oil.

      Many thanks and I hope this helps.
      Stuart

  20. Is there any way to stain/varnish white deal t&g for exterior use to mimic cedar? I want to build a simple garden room but cedar cladding at present is extremely expensive. I’m after the look and am prepared to treat every 2 years for longevity. Many Thanks. Jake.

    • Hi Jake,

      Many thanks for the question. Cedar can be a difficult timber to match so it would really be a case of trial and error using a couple of pre treatments on a test area. We’d recommend trying Rubio Monocoat Pre-Aging in either Smoke Light or Smoke Intense – possibly even a mix of those 2 pre-treatments may be best for this application.

      This would then need to be overcoated with Rubio Monocoat Oil Plus 2C in Pure.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you for getting in touch, and please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions
      Stuart

  21. Tru-oil, an oil product for finishing Wood stocks, has been recommended to bring out faded case colors on a blued gun receiver. A few light coats, then drying and buffing. Brush-on lacquer has also been suggested as a method to bring out colors. I’ve used a Polymerized Tung Oil mixture with Wiping Varnish (50/50) on Wood and get beautiful results. The combination hardens and forms a film allowing multiple coats. I read that metal can also be finished with metal oils. Wax, and BLO. I was wondering if either the Polymerized Tung Oil alone or in combination with Wipe-on Varnish could be used on blued Gun receivers to restore case colors?

    • Hi Rob,

      Many thanks for getting in touch. Unfortunately the products you mention are not products we stock so we wouldn’t be able to advise on their use or suitability I’m afraid.

      Apologies we couldn’t help this time, please feel free to get in touch if you have any further questions.

      Many thanks
      Stuart

      • Hi Rob
        I have several coated my engraved stainless steel wooden pistol grips, and sanding it with fine steel wool, while it was boiled linseed oil wet it had a beautiful shine Finnish ,but when it dried it was rather dull , how can I get a shiney lustre Finnish?

        • Hi Peter,

          Thank you very much for your question. We have been in touch with one of the manufacturers of boiled linseed oil and we have received the below response:

          ‘The Boiled Linseed oil should dry to a light gloss finish. Unfortunately there is no tried and tested method we can recommend to improve the sheen level.

          It seems like potentially the rubbing down could be removing the sheen from the finish so it needs to be applied and left to dry to give the glossy appearance.’

          Sorry it isn’t a straightforward solution in this case. I hope this helps and please feel free to get in touch if you have any further questions.

          Many thanks
          Stuart

  22. I am on the board of an 1879 dance hall with its original floor which we have taken very good care of. We were told in the older days that linseed oil was used to revive it. Currently we just sweep with an oil based sawdust from a janitor supply that helps remove dirt and brings a shine. If we get a particularly nasty spill we will buff it with a buffer or once every couple of years we mop the whole thing and then use the oil based sawdust to replace the oils. Any suggestions on how to properly care for it? It is a large dance floor so applying linseed seems daunting. Also what do you do after applying and wiping off?

    • Hi Christina,

      Thank you very much for getting in touch. For this project we would recommend the application of Rubio Monocoat Oil Plus 2C. After applying and wiping off, the floor would need to be left for 5 days to fully cure – this treatment should last for for approximately 12 months. Maintenance would then be with the use of Rubio Monocoat Universal Maintenance Oil.

      I hope this helps, and please feel free to get in touch if you have any further questions.

      Many thanks
      Stuart

  23. I was told to use double boiled linseed oil on my bare western red cedar porch floor. The entire porch is covered, but the sides are exposed to weather. I had previously stained it, and the stain just peeled. We sanded it back to the original wood, and applied linseed oil. The first year was great; it dried quickly and was beautiful. After the first winter, it had greyed, so I was told to clean it with Activox and a power washer, which I did. However, the linseed oil did not completely dry until part way through the summer. I did the same thing the following year – same results. This year (spring) it was literally BLACK – I have cleaned it again, but I can feel (with my fingernail) that there is still a soft coating of something on the wood. I am assuming this is the linseed oil. What should I do differently? Wouldn’t you know, I just purchase a large drum of Linseed Oil last year, as it is a HUGE porch – should I be applying it differently? Can you help? I can’t really leave it as is, as the wood looks dried and uneven in appearance without the linseed oil . . . anything you could recommend would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Darlene,

      Many thanks for your question. Unfortunately we would be unable to offer advice on this – we would recommend contacting the retailer the linseed oil was purchased from in this instance for guidance.

      Apologies we couldn’t help out this time.

      Many thanks
      Stuart

  24. We have a rough cedar beam ceiling that needs some tlc. What would be your suggestion to condition and moisturize the beams to give them a richer look, and how should the product be applied? We have 12’ ceilings.

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