Linseed oil lends a satin finish to a wood that is difficult to achieve using other oils. If you’re looking to renovate your kitchen, many will recommend using linseed oil to remodel the kitchen and give it a shine like new.
But with so many other oil finishes on the market today, is linseed oil a safe and viable option? More importantly, is linseed oil food safe?
If you want to use the oil on wood furniture and kitchen utensils, you want to ensure that it is safe for you and your family. You may also want to know its advantages, disadvantages, and alternatives.
We consulted with several wood experts to create this comprehensive article to answer your questions.
Is Linseed Oil Food Safe?
Yes. Linseed oil is food safe when cured completely. The raw and polymerized linseed oil is safe for humans to consume.
Is Linseed Oil Toxic when boiled? Manufacturers add some chemicals (petroleum-based or dry metals) when making boiled linseed oil, making it toxic for human consumption.
You need to wait for the coats to get cured entirely before you begin using the surface for food.
What Is Linseed Oil Made From?
Linseed oil is a plant-based oil obtained from flax plant seeds. One needs to apply pressure to ripe flax seeds to extract the oil. This oil then goes through solvent extraction, giving you flaxseed oil.
Due to its polymer-forming capabilities, the oil is used as varnish, plasticizer, hardener, and as a pigment binder in oil paints.
Variation of Linseed Oil
There are three variations of linseed oils. These vary in terms of their toxicity, dry time, and purity. The production of linseed variations aims to reduce linseed oil’s drying time.
Pure Linseed Oil
Pure linseed oil, also known as raw linseed oil, is the purest and most natural form of linseed oil. A thin layer of this oil takes up to a week to dry.
Depending on the coating’s thickness and the surrounding environment, the complete cure can take between 2 and 10 weeks. A solvent such as turpentine is added to the oil to speed up the drying process.
Boiled Linseed Oil
The production of boiled linseed oil aimed to solve the long curation time of raw or pure linseed oil. Adding drying agents (petroleum-based or heavy metals) helps obtain this variation.
This partially completes the molecular process in oil, ultimately accelerating the oil drying process. It makes the oil a more viable finish for wood furniture.
Linseed oil goes through a polymerization process to hasten the drying process. During this process, the makers heat the oil to more than 300°C for several days.
As a result, the oil polymerizes, increasing its viscosity (obstruction to flow) and reducing its drying time.
Read Also: Is Stain Safe for Garden Beds?
Is Boiled Linseed Oil Food Safe?
No, Boiled Linseed oil is not food safe. The boiled variation of linseed oil is more toxic as it contains chemical dryers that are dangerous to humans if ingested.
You should avoid using boiled linseed oil on the cutting board or as a butcher block oil.
Food Safe Linseed Oil
Linseed oil penetrates deep inside the wood to protect it from water damage and scratches. In addition, the easy-to-maintain linseed oil gives the wood a finish that emphasizes the wood grain and colour.
Here are our top linseed oil picks.
1. Best Overall Food Grade Linseed Oil – Sunnyside Pint Boiled Linseed Oil
- The product is PT Boiled Linseed Oil
- Easy to use
- The product is manufactured in China
This pint-boiled linseed oil is ideal for wood furniture and antiques. As it is easy to apply, the oil extends and fortifies oil-based paints. In addition, by penetrating deep inside the wood, the oil provides a uniform, rigid, glossy, and elastic finish to the wood.
Moreover, the oil protects the wood from water, delays the chalking process, and prolongs its coating life. This high-quality oil finish is perfect for fine woods and will dry within 12 to 18 hours after the first coating.
Like other oil-based finishes, the sunnyside pint boiled oil will darken the wood’s natural tone. Applying it to lighter woods will give them an orangish tint.
2. Best Linseed Oil For Cutting Board – Sunnyside Pure Raw Linseed Oil
- Penetrates deep and protects wood creating a quality finish for wood furniture and antiques
- Apply to raw wood only
- Increases water repellency and weather resistance
Available in three different sizes: Bulk, Gallon, and Quart, sunnyside’s pure raw linseed oil claims to be 100% natural slow-drying oil.
The pure raw linseed oil is the most refined and has no chemical dryers; it takes more time to dry, usually 2 to 4 days. The oil has a mild odor. You can use it to finish butcher blocks or vegetable gardens.
The oil penetrates deep into the wood and protects the wood from any water or weather damage. As the oil has no other thinners added, you can directly add it to the oil-based paint and stains.
Can You Use Linseed Oil On a Cutting Board?
Yes. You can use linseed oil on cutting boards. You can apply the raw linseed oil certified as food-safe oil on cutting or butcher boards.
However, raw linseed oil does not perform very well in humid conditions. This means there is a chance that the oil coating may come off if you wash the cutting board.
Caution: Do not use polyurethane over oil finish for your cutting boards.
What is Linseed Oil Used For?
Linseed oil has been used for various purposes, mainly to provide a protective coating to wood products. But now, the linseed oil serves other purposes—it is now popular as a nutritional supplement and additive for paints to enhance the color.
You can also use the oil to polish metals to prevent erosion and clean leather products and paintbrushes.
Read also: How to use linseed oil on decks.
Advantages of Linseed Oil:
- Linseed oil is the right oil for you if you want something environmentally friendly and nontoxic.
- By penetrating deeply, it protects wood from water and weather damage.
- You can use wax and other finishes with linseed oil to extend the wood life further.
- It protects wood from scratches.
- Enhances the color and texture of wood.
- Organic oil helps reduce cholesterol, fight cancer, and reduce the risk of diabetes when used as a health supplement.
Disadvantages of Linseed Oil
- Wood surfaces that are directly in contact with water require periodic re-oiling
- It turns slightly yellow over time
- Extremely high or extremely low temperatures can cause the wood to bleed oil
- It takes 24 to 72 hours to dry
- It does not provide UV protection
- No hardening like other finishes
- Difficult to remove if you want to refinish the wood.
See also: When should I use linseed oil on wood?
Alternative Food Safe Oils For Cutting Board
As linseed oil is not very good for cutting boards, you may be looking for alternatives. Wooden surfaces like cutting boards need food-grade mineral oil coating. Popular choices for cutting boards include mineral oil, beeswax, pine Danish oil and coconut oil.
A Tung Oil finish can also be viable since it gives a clear finish and darkens the wood instead of yellowing it like Linseed Oil.
Due to its oxidation resistance, mineral oil has become a standard finishing oil for cutting boards. It also has no odor and flavor. Dicing food on the cutting board will not affect its taste.
The water-resistant property of this oil prevents it from absorbing any water. The cutting board will absorb mineral oil over 2 to 4 hours after applying it. Remove any remaining oil using a paper towel or cloth.
Regular use of cutting boards makes them susceptible to cracking. Applying beeswax oil can help create a protective seal and prevent cracks. In addition, beeswax is natural and cost-effective, so it has become a popular choice for cutting boards.
When applying beeswax oil, professionals recommend using 1 part of beeswax and two parts of mineral oil mixture for the coating. This will give the cutting board a smooth finish and shine and help it last much longer.
This coconut oil is different from the edible oil we get in a grocery store. You can use fractionated coconut oil to finish cutting boards.
Manufacturers remove the fat from the regular coconut oil to obtain fractionated coconut oil. Oiling the cutting board every 3 to 4 weeks will prevent it from drying and cracking.
Is Linseed Oil Toxic?
No, linseed oil is non-toxic and possesses friendly characteristics. The finish is mostly used for preserving wood products, especially those that come in contact with food.
It deeply nourishes wood while providing flexible protection that is waterproof, abrasion-resistant, and will also resist liquids such as alcohol, coffee, and juice.
What is the difference between raw and boiled linseed oil?
The difference between raw linseed oil and boiled linseed oil is that there are drying agents you must add in order to make boiled linseed a more feasible option for finishing wood furniture.
Yet, raw linseed naturally makes a great finish for wood products if applied in thin coats and you allow enough time to cure and dry.
Also learn about wood stain health hazards here.
Is raw linseed oil food safe?
Yes, raw linseed oil is food safe. The finish on the wood is considered most food safe because it doesn’t contain any additional drying compounds. Such characteristic feature makes linseed oil a commonly used finish for wood cutting boards and other wooden kitchen products.
See also: Is tung oil food safe?
Is linseed oil edible?
Yes, linseed oil is edible. It is not toxic and food-friendly, which is why the finish is applied on chopping boards and kitchen cabinets.
Can I use boiled linseed oil on the butcher block?
Yes, you can use boiled linseed oil on a butcher block. However, it may smell or taste unpleasant as a result of being old and stale. While boiled linseed oil can work, a perfect option to use on butcher block is mineral oil.
Is linseed oil poisonous?
No, linseed oil is not poisonous. It’s a natural vegetable oil that has been used for centuries to make paints and varnishes for protecting the wood. What is more, it is becoming more popular as a non-poisonous and friendly environmental feature.
Is boiled linseed oil toxic?
Yes, it is considered toxic and may not be safe. Boiled linseed oil is common as a wood finish, but contains some potentially hazardous drying compounds that are either petroleum-based or heavy metals.
Is boiled linseed oil toxic to dogs?
Yes, boiled linseed can be toxic especially if you use it in making pet houses. The finish produces VOCs which can cause irritation of the eye and nose as well as skin reactions to your dog.
Is linseed oil toxic to dogs?
No, linseed oil is not toxic to dogs unless it is boiled. You can use the oil to make a great finish for your pet’s house. Linseed oil saturates deep into the wood grain, protecting the wood from scratches and changes in humidity. Plus, it will bring our the color and grain of the wood underneath.
Does linseed oil smell?
Yes, linseed oil smells on wood. If you use it, the oil fills the air with an unpleasant odor that lasts for weeks after painting. Stronger than other finishes, the odor is caused by volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Is boiled linseed oil safe for raised beds?
No, it is not advisable to use boiled linseed oil on raised beds because it will leak into the soil yet it is harmful. Only use raw linseed oil for your raised garden beds as long as you can apply it properly. Even if it leaks, raw linseed will not be harmful to your garden bed.
Read also: Is polycrylic safe for food contact?
So, Is linseed oil food safe? Linseed oil is food safe provided you have given it enough time to cure completely. Linseed oil comes from flax seed, which is used for many consumption purposes.
This means linseed oil is far less toxic than other finishes, but remember to let the coating dry completely before using it. Linseed oil is flammable, so you need to store it correctly. Also, ensure you dispose of used linseed oil rags.
By re-oiling the wood periodically, you can keep the shine and depth of the color of the wood while extending its life.
Also, read our article on food-safe poly to gain a deeper understanding of its applications and benefits.