April 13, 2022

Linseed Oil Smell

Boiled linseed oil does not smell very pleasant, but it will slowly dissipate. It has chemical additives to speed up its drying after application. It is those chemicals that you smell. Linseed oil does have a characteristic odor that some find unpleasant, but it does not release harmful fumes like solvents.

How to get rid of linseed oil smell

Give it a few days outside to tone it down a bit. If that is not enough, go over the whole item with a rag dipped in mineral spirits, and then let it air some more. You can seal up the wood with tung oil or a polymer finish. That will seal the BLO in the wood grain and capture the smell.

To get rid of the linseed or tung oil odor, wait 30 days if possible. The linseed odor might not be completely gone in 30 days, but it will be mostly gone. If the oils are on a large area like floors,  increase heat and ventilation in that area of the home.

linseed oil next to a bowl of Linseeds

Wipe off as much as you can with clean rags. You might have to do this a few times if a lot of oil has soaked into the wood and it keeps weeping. Dispose of the rags properly since they can spontaneously combust if left lying around. Then give it some time to cure. Boiled linseed oil can take 24-48 hours for a light coat to cure. Raw linseed oil can take months.

Please leave it in the sun to quicken the process or leave it in the airing cupboard, but then everything else would pick up the smell. A low oven might do the trick, but not too warm; otherwise, the oil and wood will cook.

  1. Open windows for more air and run fans to increase circulation. Keep the fans and windows open for several hours.
  2. Pour undiluted white vinegar in several small bowls and set around the room. Leave the bowls in the room for 24 hours to remove odours in the air.
  3. Fill a small glass jar with cotton balls soaked in vanilla extract. Set the glass jars near the wood floors to fill the air with a pleasant aroma.
  4. Poke holes in the top of a plastic container’s lid. Add activated charcoal inside the plastic container and cover with the hole-filled lid. Place the container in the room with the wood floors to absorb linseed odours from the air.
  5. Mop wood floors with a mixture of 1 cup of water vinegar and 1 gallon of warm water. Wipe the floors dry with a soft cloth. The vinegar will remove odours trapped in the wood floors.

Boiled linseed oil smell

Boiled linseed oil combines raw linseed oil, stand oil, and metallic dryers (catalysts to accelerate drying). In the Mediaeval era, linseed oil was boiled with lead oxide to give boiled linseed oil.

Boiled linseed oil does not smell pleasant, but it will slowly dissipate. It has chemical additives to speed up its drying after application. It is those chemicals that you smell. Boiled Linseed Oil would cure faster and should not have an odor after several weeks. If it is raw linseed oil, you are likely smelling the linseed oil itself, which is not toxic. 

Does linseed smell oil like fish

No. Linseed Oil Finish smells like honey or lemony incense. It is rancid when it smells like fish or has a strong odor. It contains a wax component (natural and modified) as well.

Linseed oil off gassing

The odors of linseed oil and the citrus solvent come from their naturally occurring VOCs. The pungent smell of linseed comes from the aldehydes. Both tung and linseed have more potent odors than some other finishes for the chemically sensitive.

Linseed oil poses little, if any, a toxic threat to human health, even though it does emit an odor. Boiled linseed oil is a wood finish but contains some hazardous drying compounds. As long as the BLO is curing, it will off-gas, producing the odor. There can be a considerable time between dry to the touch and cured. 

These finishes are low-VOC and, once dry, contain only plant resins and cured plant oils and will not off-gas over time. Linseed oil does not catch fire when used on wood because it is spread out. That is why it does not heat up. Just keep it away from heat and flames.

Linseed oil smell toxic.

Linseed oil poses little, if any, a toxic threat to human health, even though it does emit an odor as it dries. Material Data Safety Sheets (MSDS) on linseed oil say that it is non-toxic. Pure linseed oil poses little to no threat to human health.

How to get linseed oil smell out of clothes

Use a heavy-duty laundry detergent. That is one of the easiest ways to remove oil smells from clothes. Although it requires little work, it is also very effective. A heavy-duty laundry detergent is that most regular laundry detergents, especially affordable ones, are not formulated to remove heavy stains and harsh odors. 

Heavy-duty detergents have a formula that is slightly different from regular laundry detergent. They have added chemicals that are more effective at breaking down oil and grease. It is excellent to have on hand if you or someone in your household works in a career where they get a lot of oil and grease on your clothes.

To use heavy-duty laundry detergent, all you need to do is add it to a load of laundry in place of your regular detergent. Wash the clothing using the hottest water temperature that particular clothing will allow. Hotter water temperatures will break down stains better, but check the care label on the clothing first to see the water temperature recommended. Otherwise, you could risk damaging your clothes.

Linseed oil fumes

Linseed oil has fumes, but they are not toxic. The odor will persist until the volatile compounds also found in the oil escape into the air.

Raw linseed oil vs boiled linseed oil

The difference between Raw and Boiled Linseed Oils is that Raw Linseed Oil has a longer drying time, whereas Boiled Linseed Oil is treated by blowing hot air through the liquid. That shortens its drying time considerably. Boiled Linseed Oil is for woods other than oak.

David D. Hughes

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