Linseed oil wood preservative

April 26, 2014

Linseed oil is an all-natural wood preservative.


Linseed oil, pressed out of the flax seed, is a common outdoor wood preservative. It soaks deep into the wood, protecting it against water infiltration, which leads to rot.


While linseed oil was historically used as a wood preservative, it does have drawbacks such as slow dying times. 


The application of linseed oil is easy:

Obtain a disposable paintbrush and brush it on unfinished wood. Apply several layers until the wood stops absorbing oil. As an alternative, wipe an oil-soaked rag across the wood. You must take one caution, however: Rags and brushes soaked with linseed oil heat up and spontaneously combust.


Do not throw away oil-soaked tools in a garbage can, since the danger of fire is great. Rather, take them to your local hazardous materials disposal centre, where trained professionals know how to deal with oil-soaked items.


Oil Uses

A difference exists between boiled linseed oil and raw oil.

Boiled linseed oil is not really boiled, but several synthetic agents are added to speed up the dying time. These agents are toxic, so any wood coming into contact with edibles should be coated with raw rather than boiled. Overall, you can coat any wood with linseed oil. The decision to use raw or boiled depends on the application.


Modern Preservatives

As linseed oil has a slow drying time it will remain tacky for days, possibly even months, depending on the weather and humidity. Another drawback is that it provides no ultraviolet light resistance, so decks will eventually turn grey. Furthermore, since it's a natural product, it will eventually biodegrade. You must recoat yearly, especially on wood in contact with the ground. Because of these drawbacks, modern wood preservatives are made with complex chemicals that eliminate the drawbacks but still keep the positive attributes of linseed oil.


Nature has provided us with the tool to preserve our wood. It is now our choice whether we choose it or not.


If you so wish after your wicking bed has been installed we can send you a reminder when it needs to be re-treated. We also offer a service to come do this for you.

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