Oil for paddles

I read that most oils can serve as a nutrient source for mold to grow. The exception was supposed to be double boiled linseed oil.

Have never really noticed a problem on my paddles,which are stored inside. But the seats and gunwales on my boats do seem to get a bit of a blck buildup which I gues is mold. I have been using Watco or teak oils.

Anyone use double boiled linseed oil?

Only experience is with Watco Exrerior
I have a Bending Branches canoe paddle which is my “project paddle”. I was unhappy with the feel, balance, blade thickness, blade profile etc and earlier this year I started slimming it down to a proper weight. Since this is an ongoing project I have been using Watco Exterior rather than varnish (scrape, sand, oil, test, repeat).

I would expect any exterior oil to have some form of microbe inhibitor as part of it’s chemistry. My guess is that linseed oil, even boiled, would still be open to bacterial or mold growth unless so inhibited.

Of course, my paddle is stored inside, so the possibility of microbial growth is greatly reduced.


food for thought
If oil does provide a nutrient source for mold, is that necessarily a bad thing? If it eats oil instead of ash, who’s to complain? The reason I mention this is last year I was not as dilligent as I’d like to be with my old Malecite. When I finally brought it in to get it ready for salt water service, I had fair bit of black mold on the gunnels. To my surprise, a bucket of water and a stiff fingernail brush took it all off without any visible evidence of it having been there.

So, maybe feeding the mold Watco isn’t a bad thing?

I’ll sit back down now and let those who know wood chime in.

Could be
he agreed, absent-mindedly stroking his beard.

If the oil seals the wood against water intrusion then there is limited possibility for microbial growth within the fiber. Unless you store your boat in a hermetically-sealed chamber (another winter project) you are bound to pick up a few zillion mold spores over the course of paddling season. Better to feed them on the surface where you can easily deal with them and where they cannot feed on the wood.


There’s no such thing as…
…“double boiled linseed oil”. “Boiled” linseed oil is not actually boiled, it just contains metallic driers (a.k.a. “Japan drier”) that accelerate the curing process. Unfortunately, the driers are very toxic as they contain heavy metals.

Raw linseed oil does not contain these and it takes weeks or even months to cure.

There are also “partially polymerized” linseed oils that are carefully heated to start the polymerization process. They don’t contain driers, yet still cure in a reasonable amount of time. They’re also hard to find and rather expensive.

As for linseed oil being good fungal food, it’s true, but only when the wood is kept wet for extended periods of time. That usually doesn’t happen with paddles, but mold/mildew is common on skin-on-frame kayak frames treated with linseed oil, particularly at the ends.

Tung oil does not promote fungal growth.

I use “boiled” linseed oil on paddles
and wood canoe parts. My boats are stored inside so mold and rot is not an issue. Ease of maintainance is, so no varnish on my stuff. I have used Watco Teak oil but it just seems kind of thin and watery. Toxic chemicals added to linseed oil? Didn’t know anything about that. There have been lots of discussions about oils and varnish on this board. We all seem to be passionate about our chosen wood finishes.

I once finished the interior of a wooden
rowing skiff with a mixture of linseed oil, pine tar and turpentine. The stuff smelled good but the wood became very dark over the season which didn’t look bad for that kind of boat. I think that I’d stay with tung oil for a paddle. John

Not true
Boiled Linseed oils are those that have been heated to about 540 deg F & held at that temperature for some hours. This cause first a realignment in the double bonds in the carbon chain of the fatty acid component of the molecule followed by polymerisation causing a viscosity increase.

Boiled not boiled
In the USA products sold as “boiled” linseed oil are actually not boiled at all, rather they have driers added. “Boiled” is a misnomer on this side of the pond. BNystrum accurately addressed this above. RK

Different terms for different sides of the pond which is probably why we sometimes “disagree”

What to you define as “Varnish” ?

If I could find the real stuff.
Boiled linseed oil I’m talking about, It would likely be made in China by a guy from Mexico.

Don’t they
consume linseed oil as a health food? Isn’t flax seed oil the same as linseed oil?

linseed oil is made from flax seeds.

As regards varnish, I’ll go with any definition you want – you’re the chemist. My knowledge on the subject remains underwhelming. RK

That wasn’t a trick question
It appears from reading these threads that the terms used in the US differ from the UK & both those terms differ from the technical definitions taught to me at college & used in industry.

That’s not surprising…
…as the world of wood finishing is full of myths, legends, folklore and not much science.

There is my problem
I questioned a myth & got blasted.

anyway we are better informed now
at least I am,

and that is were forums like this really can be an asset!