How to Remove Linseed Oil From Wood

Learn how to remove sticky, excess, dry or boiled linseed oil from wood
How to remove linseed oil from wood image

In this article, we will detail how to remove linseed oil from wood, including all the steps and tools involved. But first things first.

Linseed Oil and Wood

Many may see this post heading and want to avoid linseed oil. Well, no. Linseed is a very useful agent in preserving wood and is even used to make the best gun stock oil finish. You can use linseed oil or tung oil to restore an old finish without stripping it.


The problem is when you’ve messed up and would like to get the linseed oil off. At times, linseed oil forms a solid layer that won’t go away. Scratching it with force will deface your wood project, and painting over it may not be a viable idea. Regardless, you still have to remove the linseed oil from the wood.

How to Remove Linseed Oil from Wood – Woodworkers Guide

We understand that there are several different situations where linseed oil may be a nuisance to wood, and we have provided a way of removing linseed oil in each case.

How to Remove Boiled Linseed Oil From Wood Furniture

Tools you need

  • Acetone
  • Rag
  • Protective gear (gloves and goggles)
  • Steel wool
  • Brush

Quick Steps for Removing Boiled Linseed Oil

Step 1: Clean the Wood

Clean the wood with a damp rag. After proper cleaning, allow the wood to air dry completely. You don’t want to work on damp wood. Ensure the rag is damp and not dripping wet.

Step 2: Heat Water to Boil

Place water over a heat source and bring to boil. Then, gently add your acetone to a cap and place it on the surface of the boiling water. Don’t place acetone direct over the flame for two main reasons.
One, acetone is very flammable, and any mistake will spell disaster. Another reason is, acetone is quite volatile, and you may lose half of it if you place it over the heat source direct.

Step 3: Have Your Protective Gear On

Ensure your protective gear is on, and then brush acetone on the affected areas of the wood, keeping it wet. Apply little pressure as you brush.

Step 4: Scrub

Using steel wool, scrub on the affected parts to remove as much oil as possible. You can stop at intervals and allow the wood to dry to confirm that the linseed oil is gone from the wood.

How to Remove Excess Linseed Oil From Wood

Tools You Need

  • Rag
  • Chemical solvent (Turpentine)
  • Protective gear (gloves and goggles)
  • Warm soapy water

Quick Steps for Removing Linseed Oil From Wood

Step 1: Clean the Wood

Clean the wood with a damp rag. After cleaning, allow for thorough drying of the wood in the air.

Step 2: Mix Turpentine

Add a little quantity of turpentine on a clean cloth and rub over the affected surface. The rubbing should be in a circular motion till the linseed oil starts to dissolve.

Step 3: Let the Turpentine Soak

Now, you wait. Let the turpentine sit for about 15 minutes, but you may leave it for up to 20 minutes for heavily stained wood.

Step 4: Wash off the Surface

Using another clean cloth, wash off the wood surface with warm soapy water. Clear the wood of any remnant linseed oil by scrubbing with a rag.

Step 5: Rinse

Rinse the wood with warm water and let it dry in the air. This is a critical step when using toxic chemicals, like turpentine, to limit contact with human skin. If there is still some linseed oil after the wood is dry, repeat the rubbing process.

Related: How to remove paint from wood furniture without harsh chemicals

How to Remove Dried Linseed Oil From Wood

At times, all you need is a good ol’ thorough sanding. This method is particularly known in cleaning wood very sensitive to chemicals.
However, linseed oil sand cleaning should only be done when you are sure the wood can take it.

Don’t rub the sandpaper on sensitive and delicate wood. You may get the oil quite all right, but you likely will get more than the oil. And, trust us, that’s bad.

Tools You Need to Remove Sticky Linseed oil

  • Medium-grit and fine-grit sandpaper
  • Rag
  • Protective gear (goggles and mask)

Quick Steps to Remove Sticky Oil Patches

Step 1: Clean

Clean the surface of the wood with a rag to remove dust.

Step 2: Sand

Using the medium-grit sandpaper, sand along the wood grain. The goal of sanding is to remove the wood layer stained with dry sticky linseed oil. So, sanding should be quite thorough.

Step 3: Wipe the Surface

Wipe the surface with a damp cloth. Here, you should see the linseed oil stain in the wood particles. You should also observe for remaining linseed oil stains. Allow the wood to dry in the air.

Step 4: Resand

To the dry wood surface, sand along the wood grain again, but this time using fine-grit sandpaper. The aim is to remove remnant linseed oil without removing another layer of wood with the medium-grit sandpaper.

Step 5: Clean and Leave to Dry

Clean the wooden surface with a damp cloth and let it air-dry. Repeat the fine-grit sandpapering if there are still oil remnants.

Step 6: Confirm the Final Finish

When the wood is clean and ready, confirm that it is level and even by feeling with your hands. The final wood should be clean and even.

How to Remove Linseed Oil From Wood Floors

Materials and Tools

Before embarking on this transformative and fun task, you should have the following:

  • Goggles
  • Mask
  • Gloves
  • Cotton rags (old cotton T-shirts can do the job)
  • Chemical solvents (Turpentine)
  • Hot water and detergent

How to Remove Linseed Oil from Wood Floors (Step-By-Step Guide)

How to remove linseed oil from wood image

Step 1: Put on Your Safety Gear.

This step is crucial to your safety while you take on the task. The goggles and the mask protect your eyes and nose from dust and chemical vapors. The gloves will shield your hands from chemicals and unforeseen minor hand injuries.

Step 2: Wipe the Floor with a Damp Cloth.

Wipe out any dirt from the surface. Allow it a few minutes to completely air dry. Ensure the room is well ventilated, especially if you are working on a wooden floor that is indoors.

Step 3: Apply turpentine.

Using a dry rag, apply a generous amount of turpentine. Rub it in in circular motions for a few minutes. Let it sit for about 20 minutes. This will allow the turpentine to penetrate and dissolve the oil on the wood. 

Step 4: Clean Out the Residue.

Wash the floor using hot water and detergent. Afterward, wipe off any excess water and leave it to air dry before moving to the next step.

Step 5: Inspect the Floor. 

As soon as your wooden floor is dry, inspect the wood to see how much of the linseed oil you could remove. Remember to stay hydrated and keep that energy going. 

Step 6: Repeat the Process in Steps 3, 4, and 5

Now that you know the areas of the wooden floor that need more work, repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 altogether. Notice that this step is not necessary if you are satisfied with the results of the first round. And, remember to use a fresh rag each time.

Step 7: Inspect the Wooden Floor One More Time

The floor should be even and brighter in the shade at this stage. If not, repeat the previous steps until you are content with the results.

Step 8: Clean Out Your Working Area.

Dispose of the rags used with turpentine and residue from the cleaning process. Marvel at the job well done.

FAQs

Will Mineral Spirits Remove Linseed Oil?

Yes, mineral spirits can remove tung oil or linseed oil. Mineral spirits are chemical substances formed from a mixture of aliphatic and alicyclic petroleum-based compounds.

Does Acetone Remove Linseed Oil?

Acetone and lacquer thinner are fine for removing linseed oil from the wood. It’s used as an organic solvent, meaning it will dissolve oils, including linseed.

How Long Does Linseed Oil Last on Woods?

Linseed oil dries within days if it’s boiled and within 2-10 weeks if it’s raw. The stains generally last for very long and may get darker with time.

Will Linseed Oil Darken or Stain Wood?

Linseed oil, in itself, isn’t a dye. Nonetheless, applying them to woods tends to darken the wood. Unlike most other finishes, linseed oil darkens in the absence of light.

Can I Sand off Boiled Linseed Oil?

Yes, you can sand off boiled linseed oil. But sanding is ideally on dry surfaces, so the boiled linseed oil has to be dry first before sanding.

Can a Paint Stripper Remove Oil From Wooden Surfaces?

Paint stripper is a good alternative for oil-based paint if you don’t want to go the natural way. A caustic stripper has high pH levels, so you`ll need to neutralize the surface to bring it to a pH level of 7.

Get Linseed Oil off Wood

There you have it – how to remove linseed oil from wood. There are several ways, but we have picked the best to use in several different situations. Care should always be taken when handling chemicals, mineral spirit, lacquer thinner, and toxic solvents.

Be sure to check out our quick guide on how to remove paint with vinegar if you’re looking for home remedies to remove paint from wood.

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