Raw Linseed Oil vs Boiled Linseed Oil- Which One Should You Use?

Linseed oil comes in a slight yellow tinge and is a product of flax plant seeds. Also, the oil is quite easy to manufacture as you just need to soak the seeds in a solvent or press them to get the liquid. However, there are multiple kinds of linseed oil, and you need to know the difference to get maximum benefit. So, let’s look at the topic Raw Linseed Oil vs Boiled Linseed Oil.

Raw linseed is the purest form of linseed oil. It originates from flax seed and is sold without preservation additives, solutions, or chemicals. Also, it is excellent for oil-based paints as it permits them to level and set well. So, you can expect a smoother finish. On the other hand, boiled linseed oil has additives and undergoes hot air treatment.

Interestingly, boiled linseed oil dries faster than raw linseed oil. Therefore, it is suitable for projects where drying time is a consideration. However, it would be best to review the major attributes of the oil types before making conclusions. Please check out this article for more insight.

First, it would be prudent to study the individual oils separately to get a proper perspective.

outdoor furniture oil, boiled linseed oilRaw linseed oil is 100 percent linseed oil that does not have thinners or driers. It is usually unprocessed and can take up to two months to dry. Therefore, you may find it unappealing as a wood finish for decking, wooden flooring, household items, and wooden flooring.

Fortunately, raw linseed oil is quite useful. Its prolonged wetness allows it to treat willow bats in cricket games perfectly. Besides, the oil locks moisture in the wood fiber and holds it together. Thus, it provides a springy surface with increased surface friction for better ball control.

On top of that, this increased friction level makes raw linseed oil an effective strategy to prevent slippage, especially on automotive machines with rubber belts.

Raw linseed oil preparation is crucial to get a satisfactory result. For example, please remove any previous finish and clean the surface before application. Luckily, the oil is application-ready to use.

In addition, you can choose to dilute the first few layers with pure turpentine for easy application. It is also okay to heat the oil: Pour it in a container and stand it in a bowl or basin full of hot water.

Avoid diluting the raw linseed oil with turpentine if you decide to heat it. Otherwise, it will become too thin and not deliver a consistent coat. In addition, consider rubbing in the oil with a clean, lint-free rag.

It would be best o wipe off the excess liquid after about 20 to 30 minutes. This way, you’ll facilitate effective penetration of future coats and avoid a sticky surface. Also, you can repeat the procedure once or twice to get the desired outcome.

Please use a minimum of three coats to deliver a sophisticated finish and rub the surface lightly in between coats. In addition, always allow the final coat to dry and harden before using the surface.

It would be best to pay attention to the oil application procedure. Oil finishes bring out the wood’s natural color. Therefore, the project may not forgive any blunders. Fortunately, a wet surface is an indication of the final color. So, it is pretty easy to know when the surface has had enough.

NB: Store raw linseed oil at temperatures above five degrees celsius and always replace the lid. This way, you’ll keep the product from deteriorating. Also, remember that oily cloths can self-combust. Thus, discard them by laying them flat outdoor to avoid fire hazards.

Below is a summary of the oil’s common functions and benefits.

  • Raw linseed oil improves and delays weathering of exterior furniture.
  • It restores, protects, and enhances untreated wood.
  • You can use it as a polish to maintain natural finishes and oiled lumber.
  • The oil aids in water repellence, retains the lumber’s natural moisture, and cracking, shrinking, and checking.
  • It works perfectly for multiple wood projects like cricket bats, hockey, archery equipment, ladders, benches, chopping boards, salad bowls, saw horses, bench blocks, and outdoor furniture.
  • Raw linseed oil is suitable for animal care products, polishes, leather treatment formulas.
  • It is lighter in form and soaks deep into the wood fiber. Therefore, you can use it as a stain to expose the wood’s grain.
  • The oil delivers a lovely and decorative finish.
  • You can also use it for treating caulking compounds, textiles, linoleum, sealants, brake linings, and foundry products.


  • Boiled Linseed Oil

Boiled linseed oil is a processed combination of raw linseed oil, drying agents, and stand oil. These catalysts accelerate the oil’s drying time significantly. Therefore, it is a preferred wood finish among woodworkers.

Besides, users also refer to the oil as an impregnating or penetrating finish as it seeps into the wood pores. Also, it cures into a hard barrier through an intense crosslinking polymerization process. 

You will find boiled linseed oil in most woodworker’s workspaces and trade shops. In addition, most homeowners prefer to use it for indoor use because it has a pretty fast drying time.

This linseed oil type delivers a smooth and lovely wooden surface. Even better, it leaves a wet look. So, you can be sure that your old, dried, and worn-out wood can restore its former glory.

It is prudent to apply boiled linseed oil to sanded and clean wood. Also, please consider using a lint-free cloth. This way, you can easily clean away any excess oil until the wood feels dry.

The resulting finish appears rich in color and less dry once it cures. It repels water and harmful UV rays. Even better, the surface will enjoy superior protection from weathering and fading.

You can use boiled linseed oil to metal to reduce oxidation. In addition, applying multiple thin layers and allowing enough drying time leaves a clean, shiny surface. Better still, this surface will not rust.

As expected, this linseed oil is a common addition to most paints. But you can still use it separately if you do not want to use it with other finishes. Also, it is more than just a surface treatment formula as it soaks deep into the lumber fibers.

Below is a list of items and projects that appreciate the use of boiled linseed oil.

  • Electric and acoustic guitars: on the body and neck.
  • Dinner trays.
  • Chairs, tables, and other furniture.
  • Cabinets, worktops, and cupboards.
  • Flooring.
  • Interior decking and seating for boats and caravans.
  • Garden benches.
  • Handrails and banisters.
  • Rifles.
  • Speaker cabinets.
  • Craft items like jewelry boxes and wooden models.
  • Breadbins.
  • Trunks, toy boxes, and chests.
  • Old tool handles.
  • Mantelpieces and shelving.
  • Ornate decorations on cradles, bedsteads, and cots.

Fun Fact: Boiled linseed oil does not undergo boiling but a chemical modification process. Most manufacturers use metallic solvents as they facilitate faster drying time. Raw or standard linseed oil requires weeks to dry. Thus, woodworkers need a more convenient option.

In addition, the oil also comes in handy for non-moving parts of workshop equipment such as block planes, chisels, and screwdrivers. You can also use it on cast iron surfaces or bigger tools like tables and band saws.

How do I apply boiled linseed oil for a better result? Check out the simple tricks below.

  • Dip a lint-free cloth into the oil and rub it onto the lumber. It would be best to adopt straight up and down movements or slow buffering circles. This way, you’ll deliver a more consistent finish.
  • Wear gloves all the time during boil linseed oil handling and application.
  • Apply thin coats and avoid pouring the formula on the surface. Also, you can test the oil on a small area before applying for full coverage.
  • Remember that the oil finish needs around 24 to 72 hours to dry to the touch. Therefore, please avoid using the surface within this duration.
  • Wood preparation is essential before you apply the oil. Otherwise, the dry, bare wood will soak up the liquid like a sponge and deliver a failed product. Fortunately, we have multiple preparation products that will help you prepare your surface. 

So, no need to worry!

The above procedure and waiting time may not be convenient. But remember that nearly all wood surfaces expand and contract through seasonal weather and changing humidity levels. Luckily, boiled linseed oil is flexible and preserves the wood through these changes. Therefore, the work is worth it!

Water-based products and paints are usually cured by moisture evaporation, are heat reactive to the touch, and emit low VOCs. However, solvent-based products such as boiled linseed oil cure as they interact and chemically react with oxygen. 

Also, they create heat during this drying process. Thus, it would be best to keep the finish away from sunlight exposure or other heat sources like radiators, ovens, and naked flames.

Besides, lower linseed oil usage creates lower heat-generating reactions than larger projects. Larger application areas and more dense coating treatments create a bigger heat generation risk.

Sometimes you’ve completed your boiled linseed oil application procedure but are unhappy with the result. Also, you may want to apply another formula on an already oiled surface. So, how do you remove the oil while maintaining the wood’s integrity and grain?

The best strategy is to use a lot of elbow grease and sandpaper. Boiled linseed oil penetrates deep into the wood grain. So, you’ll be working to remove as much oil as possible for the surface to be ready for another application.

It is prudent to insist on the health and safety aspects. For instance, read the product data sheets that give storage recommendations. Also, pay attention to aspects like humidity, temperature, and sunlight exposure.

Boiled linseed oil is a very flammable material. Hence, incorrect storage can result in spontaneous combustion. So, please contact the manufacturer if in doubt about product storage and handling.

In addition, please avoid storing boiled linseed oil in containers other than its original metal can. However, it is okay to use plastic containers for convenience. But don’t cover the plastic tub and store the formula.

Dry rags are the best applicator for this formula, but they can present serious safety hazards. Therefore, it would be best to lay the cloth on a non-flammable surface like concrete. Alternatively, you can store the rag in a metal container.

Avoid discarding a used rag as it is a huge fire risk. The cloth is very heat reactive and explosive, especially due to insufficient air to cool the oil. So, please stay safe and dispose of the cloth as advised.

Fun Fact: Tutankhamun was buried in linen cloths covered in linseed oil. However, the linseed oil did not have enough curing time because of the rushed ceremony. So, it spontaneously combusted.

Be warned!

Manufacturers modify raw linseed oil into two subtypes: boiled linseed oil and stand oil. We have talked about the former. So, now it’s time to discuss stand oil.

Stand 0il comes from trapping linseed oil in an oxygen-free environment and heating it in temperatures above 300 degrees. Then, hold the oil for several days. And behold, you get stand oil.

  • Stand Oil

Stand oil is common in fine art projects as an oil painting medium. The no-oxygen and high heat environment force a molecular conversion that makes raw linseed oil more viscous. Thus, you end up with a very elastic formula.

Painters brush the oil onto their workpieces and then apply oil paints on top. In addition, stand oil minimizes brush strokes and permits color to flow after application. Thus, it gives you a more extended working period.

The color-to-paint medium ratio increases with every paint coat during ‘fat over lean’ painting. This way, the color remains flexible and eventually reduces cracking. Therefore, your topmost and oil-heavy layers stay intact.

You can also use stand oil for other fine art styles, such as glazing. Glazing is a clear protective layer you add to finished oil finishes. So, stand oil steps in as a perfect addition as it is clear and does not yellow over time.

Now that we know about the three oils let’s check out their differences and similarities.

  • Similarities

Boiled linseed oil, raw linseed oil, and stand oil come from the same source. These oils are direct products of the flax plant seeds. Also, the oils are drying formulas, meaning they harden through a polymerization process.

All linseed oils produce heat during drying. More so, heat easily dissipates when you apply them in thin layers. Therefore, flash point temperatures can expose you to spontaneous combustion.

In addition, rags applying linseed oils can easily catch fire. Thus, please avoid wadding them up and throwing them into the trash. Instead, lay them outside to dry and then dispose of in a landfill.

  • Differences

Raw linseed oil, stand oil, and boiled linseed oil differ in their thickness and individual functions. For instance, raw linseed oil is thinner than either boiled linseed oil or stand oil. On the other hand, stand oil is the thickest formula of the three: you can compare its viscosity to honey.

Interestingly, boiled linseed oil contains both raw linseed oil and stand oil. Therefore, it is somewhere in the middle in terms of viscosity and thickness.

Stand oil is suitable for fine oil paintings, while raw linseed oil creates boiled linseed oil. However, some cricketers use it to oil their gaming bats. Also, boiled linseed oil is the only formula among the three that has a fast enough drying time for wood and metal finishes.

We can say that boiled linseed oil is more versatile than its counterparts. Stand oil, and raw linseed oil have very limited uses and applications. Therefore, they are not common among woodworkers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the most asked questions includes:

  • What Is Polymerized Linseed Oil?

Polymerized linseed oil comes from heating raw linseed oil at zero oxygen levels. In addition, you have to leave the oil at temperature levels of about 300 degrees Celsius or 572 degrees Fahrenheit.

A polymerization occurs during this process, which decreases the oil’s drying time and increases its viscosity. Therefore, you can use the formula for woodworking projects conveniently.

Both raw linseed oil and polymerized linseed oil have zero volatile organic compounds. Therefore, they are pretty safe to handle.

  • How Many Coats of Boiled Linseed Oil Do I Need?

It would be best to apply three coats of boiled linseed oil to your surface. However, please clean varnished, painted, or waxed wood for a better result. Also, consider stripping the wood before the application.

Sand and dust the surface to facilitate good formula penetration. In addition, give each coat about 12 to 24 hours intervals before adding the next one. This way, you get more uniform and consistent layers.

  • Does Boiled Linseed Oil need a Top Coat?

It is okay to top coat boiled linseed oil. But it would be best to add the final layer once the oil finishes cures. Also, please prepare the surface well before applying the oil, as flaws will show through the topcoat.

So, sand the surface with about 180-grit sandpaper and wipe away the dust. Then, apply a light oil coat and allow it to cure. Finally, do the topcoat.

  • Does Linseed Oil Make Wood Waterproof?

Linseed oil is inherently hydrophobic or water repellant. But it is susceptible to moisture and water damage when you have it as a wood finish. Fortunately, you can use it for your wood surfaces with a few tricks.

For instance, avoid placing cold glasses and objects on oiled furniture, especially when you do not have coaters. Also, wipe the oiled surface dry as soon as possible after it gets wet.

  • How Do You Use Linseed Oil to Waterproof Wood?

Use a roller, paintbrush, or cloth to apply the linseed oil. Then, wipe the surface well ten to fifteen minutes after application. Otherwise, you will leave a sticky surface and eventually get an unpleasant finish.

In addition, please consider working with two to three coats as they give you full coverage. It is also better to apply these coats at 12 to 24 hours intervals. This way, you’ll give the surface proper protection from elements.

  • Does Linseed Oil Protect Wood Outside?

Yes! Linseed oil is perfect for outdoor use. But it would be best to use the boiled version. Boiled linseed oil protects b0th outdoor and indoor wood from water and sun damage. Even better, it beautifies any wood and can reinvigorate old dried-out lumber back to a healthy state.

On top of that, boiled linseed oil features deep soaking abilities. The wood fibers draw the oil deep into the surface. So, ultimately, the wood gets wholesome protection from external and internal issues like rot and cracking.

  • Is Boiled Linseed Oil Better Than Raw Linseed Oil?

Boiled linseed oil is better than raw linseed oil as it has more applications. But it is not fair to disqualify raw linseed oil from the discussion. The oil benefits cricket gamers during bat oiling and is safer to use.

Even so, boiled linseed oil dries much faster than its raw version. It contains metallic or chemical driers that make it suitable for wood and metal finishing. Therefore, you will benefit more from it as a woodworker.


All linseed oil versions have their benefits. But only genuine boiled linseed oil works for exterior and interior bare wood use. It gives the surface a slightly glossy film and an attractive tint. Even better, the oil seals terracotta tiles and restores tired wood. However, the debate is still ongoing:

Raw Linseed Oil vs Boiled Linseed Oil

The difference between raw linseed oil and the boiled version is that the raw oil has a longer drying time. On the other hand, boiled linseed oil undergoes chemical treatment and features a pretty fast drying duration.

On top of that, raw linseed oil is primarily beneficial in outdoor applications, and you can have it as a base for oil-based paints. Conversely, boiled linseed oil is most suitable for indoor use.

Image of a woodworker wearing hearing protectors for woodworking

Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.

2 thoughts on “Raw Linseed Oil vs Boiled Linseed Oil- Which One Should You Use?”

  1. Hi Tyron – can I use raw linseed oil on top of boiled linseed oil on my table? It’s a lovely but functional large dining table (Calia). I’ve previously used boiled but picked up raw by mistake. I enrich and polish it about once a year when I think it’s starting to look dryish – I don’t mind waiting a couple of weeks for it to dry – thanks – Maggy

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