The clash between danish oil vs linseed oil is inevitable when you don’t know which one to use for your next furniture project. Choosing one can be frustrating and time-consuming.
Many similarities exist between the two wood oils, which adds to the complexity. However, each of these oils has unique properties.
So learning about their uses, pros and cons, application methods, drying time, and finish can help you make an informed decision.
To make things easier, we’ve done the research for you and compiled all the information in this article.
Let’s get started, shall we?
What Is Danish Oil?
Danish oil is one of the most popular wood finishes. It gives a wood a protective and decorative finish. In addition, the Danish oil can provide the wood with deep penetrating, cost-effective, and long-term finishing.
As a result, the wood will be able to withstand any environmental damage, such as water damage. Danish oil is a mixture of oil, thinner, and varnish.
These elements enhance the natural beauty of the wood, giving it a satin finish. You can also use Danish oil as a primary wood primer before applying paint.
Pros of Danish Oil
Here are some advantages of using Danish oil:
- Prevents significant water damage to wood
- Non-toxic and environmentally friendly
- Danish oil is safe for food, meaning you can use it to coat food utensils like bowls, cutting boards, cups, salad bowls, and plates
- Imparts shine
- Can be used on butcher block
- Dries very fast (just a few hours)
- Versatility (You can apply polyurethane over Danish oil)
- Easy application
- Temperature-resistant, durable wood finish
- Endures expansion and contraction of the wood due to its elastic properties
- As a primer, it increases the efficiency of wood paint and provides extra protection to the wood
Cons of Danish Oil
Each product with pros also has its cons, and danish oil is no exception. Even though the Danish oil is excellent, you should consider a couple of cons.
- Due to its polymeric oil structure, it attracts dust to the wood surface
- The recoating process is quite time-consuming, as you must wait for 2 to 3 days between each coat
- Does not smoothen the wood like other finishes
- The film is less durable than other finishes
- Requires regular maintenance
- You can only use it on bare wood
- Easily catches fire
Read more here on Advantages and disadvantages of danish oil.
What Is Linseed Oil?
- Tried & True Danish Oil is an all-purpose, 100% natural and food safe traditional oil finish. Pure high-grade, fast drying linseed oil without any drying aids (aka heavy metal salts).
- Proprietary heat treating process turns raw flax oil into Danish Oil. 100% renewable, safe for skin & food contact. No need for PPE or ventilation while using. Petrochemical Free, Heavy Metal Free.
- Gains a patina as it ages. Truest Danish Oil formula, as they would have been made 125 years ago! Great for users new to natural oil finishing or those that want a classic simple hand rubbed finish. Use on raw iron, earthen floors or any other project that traditionally calls for pure linseed oil.
For hundreds of years, linseed oil has been used as a food additive (in its edible form) and a wood finish. Linseed oil is also known as flaxseed oil since it is made from dried, matured flaxseeds.
The oil is occasionally extracted using solvents after crushing the flax seeds. Linseed oil, sometimes known as modern wood oil, has gained popularity in recent years. It is also known as drying oil due to its polymerization property.
This property allows manufacturers to combine linseed oil with other oils and solvents to create different mixtures. Linseed oil is used as a deck finish, but it is also used as a varnish, resin impregnator, and putty hardener.
Types of Linseed Oil
You can find the linseed oil in three forms based on the production process. These three oil forms differ in terms of dry time, purity and toxicity.
Raw linseed oil
Raw linseed oil is considered the purest form of linseed oil. It does not go through any processing. But since this natural oil takes a long time to dry, it isn’t the best choice for coating wood.
Raw linseed oil is commonly used in paints, varnishes, and stains and as a wood preservative. As it is less toxic, you can also use it to produce soaps, linoleum, and inks.
Boiled linseed oil
People have used the pure form of linseed oil or raw oil as a wood finish for decades. But the need for a quick-drying wood finish gave rise to boiled linseed oil.
Manufacturers add petroleum-based compounds or metallic oil drying agents to raw oil to produce boiled linseed oil. These drying additives include lead acetate, cobalt, or manganese, which can be extremely harmful if consumed.
Polymerized linseed oil
Manufacturers produce polymerized linseed oil to give you the best of raw linseed oil and boiled linseed oil.
The polymerized linseed oil has no solvents, meaning it’s chemical-free and fast drying. You can also get a glossy finish with this oil, which darkens the wood.
Read also: Proper disposal methods for Linseed oil rags.
Pros of Linseed Oil
- Linseed oil is non-toxic and environmentally friendly
- Scratches and dents on surfaces finished with linseed oil finished can be easily removed with sanding
- Enhances the texture and color of wood grain
- Protect the wood from external elements like water
- You can use it to finish all indoor wood items—hammer handles, kitchen cabinets, cricket bats, and tabletops
- Linseed oil is food safe
- Suitable for indoor and outdoor wood
- In its edible form, it can help reduce cholesterol and the risk of diabetes and fight cancer.
Cons of Linseed Oil
- Water-contact surfaces need to be re-oiled periodically.
- Wood can bleed oil under extremely high or low temperatures
- Does not protect wood against UV rays.
- Stainable if colored liquids penetrate the wood
- Turns yellowish with time.
- May leave a sticky feel even after drying.
- Only suitable for interior wood.
- May promote the growth of mold.
- Unlike lacquer or varnish, makes wood more prone to scratches
- Less likely to harden than other oils
- Take a couple of days to dry
Linseed oil vs danish oil Head to Head
Danish oil definitely wins the Danish oil vs linseed oil debate when weighing the pros and cons of the two oils.
Fast drying time, indoor and outdoor wood use, hard coating, and preventing mold growth contribute to danish oil’s victory here. Danish oil also comes out on top due to its protection against UV damage.
This does not mean that linseed oil is not as helpful. On the contrary, it can be perfect for interior wood projects with little to no exposure to water and humidity.
Raw linseed oil may also be the most food-safe finishing, as it has no additives. Although, remember not to use boiled linseed oil as it contains highly toxic ingredients.
Linseed oil vs danish oil: Application
Danish oil usually requires three coatings. Two techniques are widely used to apply it.
- The wet on wet method, also known as the single day method, involves applying all coats in a single day. An hour’s break between each coat will allow the wood to absorb enough oil to provide a natural protective coating. You can use the wood after 48 hours.
- The one coat a day method involves applying one coat of Danish oil per day. Wipe off the excess remaining oil with a cloth and let the surface dry. Repeat this for three days. This method allows you to remove dust or nibs using abrasive paper or wire wool between each coat.
Linseed oil cannot penetrate through already painted, varnished, or waxed wood, so ensure you apply linseed oil to bare wood.
To ensure proper penetration, you should sand and dust the surface of the wood. Three coats spaced 12 to 24 hours apart are usually sufficient.
An excellent way to enhance the satin finish of the last coat is to lightly hand polish the surface after it is scorched.
And in any case, if you are not satisfied with the outcome, check out our guide on how to remove Linseed oil.
Linseed oil vs danish oil: Appearance
Danish oil enhances the natural beauty of wood by adding extra sheen and glossiness. Additionally, the darker color gives the wood a unique look, a good example is an oiled pine.
After wiping, the sticky oil left on the wood surface may give it a silky shine. This oil can also give you a soft sheen or rustic finish, as seen on jewelry boxes and picture frames.
Linseed oil provides a golden hue that turns amber over time. In addition to protecting the wood, the oil will darken it slightly, enhancing its natural grain.
If you want to improve the grain and color of the wood, you can use teak oil, which is made from linseed oil and has additives. Here’s our guide on how to use teak oil on outdoor furniture.
Verdict – Danish Oil wins this round.
Due to its durability and resistance, Danish oil is most commonly used on exterior wood.
Additionally, Danish oil is excellent for finishing the following wooden surfaces:
- Hardwood floor
- Turned wood
- Skirting boards
- Kitchen worktops
You can use linseed oil for the following purposes:
- As a paint binder
- Wood Finishing
- Natural supplements and food
Verdict: Again, Danish oil is the winner here.
Resistance To Elements
Danish oil offers excellent resistance to water due to the polymerization process involved during the production. It may also protect your wood furniture from dirt. Overall, danish oil is food, alcohol, and water resistant.
The protective properties of linseed oil allow the materials and metals to resist corrosion and protect them from water damage.
Verdict: Danish Oil offers more protection from natural elements than linseed.
Danish oil’s clear finish provides long-lasting protection and beauty to wood projects. The approximate durability of danish oil is 10 to 20 years.
Linseed oil is a fine stand-alone finish as long as you understand its limits. With minimal maintenance, Linseed Oil Paint lasts 50 to 100 years.
Verdict: Linseed Oil comes out on top here.
Danish oil is often formulated with linseed oil and mineral oil, synthetic resins, Tung oil, and varnish to ensure durability and ease of application. Rustin’s Danish oil is known for being the ‘original’ formula. (Read our article on tung oil vs polyurethane finish.)
Petroleum-based additives like naphtha, mineral spirits, and di-propylene glycol monomethyl help speed up the drying time. Cobalt and manganese are among the metals found in boiled linseed oil.
Boiled linseed oil vs danish oil: Penetration
Danish oil offers excellent water and other liquid resistance. It acts as a waterproofing covering for woodwork. The polymerization prevents water molecules from penetrating the wood.
Linseed oil offers similar resistance to water penetration into the wood. The linseed oil penetrates deep into the wood, protecting it from inside and outside.
Verdict: As danish oil can be applied on exterior and interior wood, it is a clear winner here.
Danish oil dries within 4-6 hours, depending on the temperature and humidity. Due to the short drying time, it produces a smooth and non-tacky surface.
Linseed oil can take 2-10 weeks to fully dry, depending on the environment and the thickness of the application.
Verdict: Again, Danish oil wins this round.
Danish oil offers a soft, rustic finish that you can see on decorative tables, clocks, and picture frames. Danish oil also produces glossiness and a silky sheen. As the wood ages, the danish oil will darken it.
Linseed oil brings out the underlying color of the wood. Additionally, this oil gives the wood a dry texture, which hides uneven or patchy surfaces.
Verdict: Danish oil wins this round.
Danish oil vs boiled linseed oil: Toxicity
Danish oil is not toxic when appropriately handled. When the oil is dried completely, it takes on a durable, hard-wearing coating on the surface, which makes it wood safe.
In the process of making boiled linseed oil, some chemicals (petroleum-based or dry metals) are added, rendering the oil toxic for humans. So, wait for the coatings to be fully cured before using the utensils for food.
Verdict: After completely drying, both of these oils are safe, so it’s a tie.
Danish oil covering a 100-150 sq. ft. area will cost you approximately $33.90.
You can buy a Sunnyside boiled linseed oil for around $13.65, while a Sunnyside raw linseed oil will cost you $20.31.
Verdict: Linseed oil wins this round.
Linseed Oil Vs Polyurethane
Both linseed oil and polyurethane have their respective strengths and weaknesses. Linseed oil enhances the wood’s natural beauty but lacks strong protective properties.
On the other hand, polyurethane provides excellent protection but may not enhance the wood’s appearance. The choice between the two depends on your specific needs and preferences.
If you prioritize a more natural look and don’t require heavy protection, linseed oil may be suitable. However, if you need a durable finish with strong protection, polyurethane is the better option.
Danish Oil vs Linseed Oil Verdict
Danish oil wins our Danish Oil vs Linseed Oil battle and supersedes linseed oil in terms of finish, durability, and drying time. However, each has its advantages and uses.
The trick here is to know which one to use when.
When to use danish oil?
- When you want a finish that dried off faster
- When you want a non-toxic finish
- When you want a food-safe finish.
- To get glossiness and extra depth in wood color.
- When you want an easy-to-apply finish
- As a primer or sealer
- When you want a hard coating.
When to use linseed oil?
- In food-contact wood products. (Use raw and not boiled linseed oil)
- When you want a nutritional supplement (in its edible form)
- When you want additives in oil paints to enhance color and workability.
- As an anti-rust agent for metals
- As a leather product cleaner.
If you’re not comfortable with either of these finishes, you can check out our guide on the best oil for wood furniture.