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Why We’ve Used Linseed Oil on Our Furniture

Carl Heinrichs, owner of Quagga Designs.
Written by,

Carl Heinrichs

CEO of Quagga

Linseed oil, derived from flaxseeds, has long been praised for its versatility and use in various applications. However, concerns about its toxicity have raised questions and sparked debates.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the facts, dispel myths, and shed light on whether linseed oil is genuinely toxic or safe to use, particularly on furniture

So, if you've ever wondered about the risks and benefits of linseed oil, you're in the right place! Let's dive in and uncover the truth together.

What is Linseed Oil?

Three wooden spoons with flax seeds surrounded by flax seeds on a flat brown surface.
Credit: / @vie-studio

Linseed or flaxseed oil is derived from the seeds of the plant. It has been used as a wood finishing for centuries to protect interior and exterior wood. 

Linseed oil is becoming more popular again, as it is non-toxic and shows environmentally friendly characteristics. After application, it penetrates deep into the wood and shows the natural beauty of the wood grain.

What is Linseed Oil Used For?

Someone holding a paintbrush and painting varnish on a wood plank.
Credit: / @pixabay

People use linseed oil for many purposes because Linseed oil is such a versatile substance. Here are some common uses of linseed oil:

  • Wood Finish: Linseed oil is a popular choice for wood finishing due to its ability to enhance and protect the natural beauty of wood. It penetrates the wood fibers, providing a rich, warm finish while nourishing and preserving the wood.
  • Paint Binder: Oil-based paints use Linseed oil as a binder. It helps mix pigments and other additives, allowing them to adhere to surfaces and form a durable, long-lasting paint film.
  • Putty Filler: A mixture of linseed oil and powdered limestone or other fillers creates linseed oil putty. It is used for glazing windows, filling gaps, and repairing damaged wood surfaces.
  • Varnish: To create varnishes, linseed oil can be combined with other resins and solvents. These varnishes provide a protective, glossy finish on furniture, floors, and artwork.
  • Lubricant: Due to its low viscosity and ability to reduce friction, linseed oil is used as a lubricant for various mechanical applications, such as machinery, tools, and locks.
  • Nutritional Supplement: Linseed oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, making it a popular dietary supplement called “Flaxseed Oil Capsules.” It is consumed for potential health benefits, including supporting heart health and reducing inflammation. Do not consume linseed oil in its raw form, as it can be harmful.
  • Leather Treatment: Linseed oil is used as a leather conditioner and treatment to nourish and protect leather goods, such as bags, shoes, and wooden furniture.

These are just a few examples of the many applications of linseed oil, showcasing its versatility and usefulness in different industries and everyday life.

What is the Most Popular Linseed Oil People Use?

The most popular kind of oil is double-boiled or polymerized linseed oil. This flax seed oil can be used to finish food contact surfaces, such as cutting boards made of wood. 

It is also used on moldings, beams, furniture, and floors. Scratches can be repaired easily with a small application of the oil.

Key Features of Linseed Oil

Clear yellow liquid on a flat white surface. / @karolina-grabowska
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Waterproof and wear-resistant
  • Deep penetration
  • Golden to an Amber color
  • Satin Finish
  • Easy care
  • It shows the natural grain of the wood beautifully
  • Compatible with most oils
  • A unique scent that naturally evaporates over a few days

Is Linseed Oil Toxic?

One of the biggest questions people have about linseed oil is whether it’s toxic.

The short answer is no! Pure linseed oil poses little to no threat to human health. Many sources, including Material Data Safety Sheets (MSDS), indicate that it is non-toxic.

Types of Linseed Oil

There are three different linseed oil types: 


Raw linseed oil is the pure, unprocessed form of oil extracted from flaxseeds. It is often used as a traditional wood finish, providing a natural, protective coating that dries and hardens over time.


Also called "stand oil." It's heated to close to 300 degrees Celsius for a couple of days without exposure to the air. It's the thickest of the three, which will protect your furniture best.


Boiled linseed oil is considered a “drying oil.” It contains additives that accelerate drying time, like true boiled linseed oil. 

Due to its faster drying properties, it is commonly used as a wood finish or as a binder in oil-based paints. However, boiled linseed oil is not considered food safe and will have a warning.


While linseed oil is generally safe, certain precautions should be taken:

  • Only use food-grade linseed oil for consumption
  • Handle linseed oil-soaked materials responsibly to prevent fire hazards
  • Ensure proper ventilation when using linseed oil to minimize potential discomfort from fumes. 

By understanding the facts and following recommended guidelines, you can confidently and safely enjoy the benefits of linseed oil.


What is the danger warning for linseed oil?

Caution should be exercised when using linseed oil, as it can be flammable and may generate heat during drying. Additionally, rags or materials soaked with linseed oil can spontaneously combust if not correctly disposed of, posing a fire hazard.

Is linseed oil safe to eat?

While linseed oil is safe for small quantities as a dietary supplement due to its omega-3 fatty acid content, it is vital to use food-grade linseed oil labeled explicitly for consumption. Improperly processed linseed oil can contain harmful compounds, leading to health problems.

Is boiled linseed oil considered toxic when dry?

Boiled linseed oil is generally considered non-toxic when fully dry and cured. Once the oil has hardened, it forms a solid film safe for various applications. However, proper handling and disposal of linseed oil-soaked materials is essential to avoid fire hazards.

Does linseed oil have harmful fumes?

When applied and dried, linseed oil may have a distinct odor. However, linseed oil does not release harmful fumes like solvents. Proper ventilation should be maintained during the application and drying process.

Carl Heinrichs

CEO of Quagga
Carl Heinrichs is the Founder of Quagga, Canada's most innovative furniture design solutions that are easy to assemble and playfully made.

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