Turpentine vs Linseed Oil

Turpentine is a thin, usually brownish-yellow and resinous liquid that's created from steam distilling the resin from certain types of pine trees. Linseed oil is a yellowish liquid that's made from the seeds of flax. Both have their uses in the world of paint clean up and removal. Here's a closer look at how the two compare.

The Creation of Turpentine

The word turpentine is used to describe a type of resin, referred to as the oleoresin, that's usually removed from the Pinus palustris Mill, more commonly known as the longleaf pine or the slash pine. But other Pinus species have been used as well to produce turpentine. The oleoresin, or gum turpentine as it's sometimes called, is removed from the by-products of paper and lumber industries and goes through steam distillation to take out the essential oil that makes the turpentine.

The United States produces most of the world's turpentine. It's also the world's largest volume-essential oil product.

Turpentine Use History

Turpentine has been used for years as a paint solvent. For the past 100 years or so, it's also been used in the start production of menthol and camphor, two ingredients found in a lot of cough and cold medicine. Turpentine has even been used in the smallest quantities in chewing gum, and food and beverage flavoring. Only the most minute amounts are used because the oil is very poisonous with children dying after ingesting just 15 mL of it. Signs of turpentine poisoning include insomnia, coughing, vomiting, headache, hematuria (blood in urine) and coma.

Turpentine also has been used for medicinal purposes throughout history. There was once a traditional Chinese medicine that used turpentine in its gum to help relieve toothache pain. A form of it has been used as an expectorant.

Turpentine is still most commonly used as a paint thinner by the general public. But medical experiments with the oil resin have shown it may be effective in the treatment of sclerosis, sexual dysfunction and to basically kick-start mammal's systemic inflammatory immune responses.

The Creation of Linseed Oil

Linseed oil is an edible oil made from the seeds of a flax plant. Only ripe seeds are used. These seeds are dried and then the oil is extracted using cold pressing. Naturally it has a strong odor and taste which means that although it's edible, few people enjoy taking it. When combined with other oils, solvents and resins, it can cause soaked rags to burn spontaneously.

Linseed Oil Use History

Linseed oil, unlike turpentine, has a history of actually being healthy for people. It contains high levels of healthy omega-3 essential fatty acids and alpha-linolenic acid that's good for the heart by preventing heart disease and reduces inflammation of the arteries. It's good for the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system and circulatory system. But only in it's natural form.

Linseed oil is also used in industrial applications. It works as a good wood finish since it absorbs into the wood pores and makes the wood look shiny while still showing off the grain. It tends to smooth wood surfaces and doesn't drip or get lumpy like varnishes. It also protects wood from scratches and dents.

It's also used as a binding agent in some linoleum floors. Chalk powder and linseed oil make putty. It's also used in oil painting of the artistic kind.