Saturday, January 3, 2009

In Which I Contemplate Consuming a Major Component of Oil Paint

I picked up some flax seed oil at the "Nature" grocery the other day.  It is supposed to help people with cold hands/feet to not be quite so cold.

Apparently flax seed oil is supposed to have a nice nutty flavor.  Curious, I opened the bottle and smelled it when I got home from the grocery store.

It smelled like my last two years of college: like oil paint.

And then I realized something I should have realized a long time before.  Flax seed oil is linseed oil, the binder component of oil paint.  Linseed oil is a drying oil, meaning that as the oil film ages it cross links and becomes insoluble, making it good as a paint binder.  Other drying oils include walnut oil and safflower oil.  Olive oil, on the other hand, is a non-drying oil.  You can wait as long as you want to, but a oil paint made with olive oil is never going to dry.

Flax is historically a really important plant.  Not only can you make linseed (or flax seed) oil from it, but the fibery part of the stem is what is spun and woven into linen.


Mary Ann said...


Mum said...

After reading about the nutritional benefits of taking Flax Seed Oil supplements, I think maybe I should start taking it too. I will be interested in hearing if you notice any improvment in your icy cold hands.