Type of Walnut Oil for a finish?

Discussion in 'Newbie' started by Jesse Tutterrow, Aug 15, 2017.

  1. Jesse Tutterrow

    Jesse Tutterrow

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    Many DVDs talk about using Walnut Oil as a finish. Today I decided to order some and give it a try. But there are many types of Walnut Oil advertised: cold pressed, organic, roasted, organic carrier, etc.

    What type of Walnut oil do I need or will they all work?
     
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  2. Zach LaPerriere

    Zach LaPerriere

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    I prefer the oils specifically for woodwork. I think the heating and removing the protein makes for a better finish as the oil polymerizes (essentially hardens up over a period of time.)

    Doctor's Woodshop produces a line of premium walnut oils. This oil is very clear and doesn't darken the wood at all. It's produced by a great guy who really understands chemistry since that was his profession for decades.

    Mike Mahoney sells great oil as well that it a bit darker and has some tannins. My understanding is that his oils comes from the husk of the walnut. Great stuff, and I use it on almost all of my bowls. It does tend to darken very light woods a little.

    At the end of the day, they all work! Some perhaps a little better than others, but it's all good stuff in my experience.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017
  3. John Turpin

    John Turpin

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    We use Mike Mahoney's.
     
  4. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    For kids classes we used a big bottle Whole Foods sold for about $4
    We figured the kids could lick there fingers and be safe.

    Wipe on heavy wipe off the excess ina few minutes.
    This dries hard in a couple of days.

    Was dry enough in five minutes for the kids to take their projects home in a paper towel.
    I used the same grocery store walnut oil for wooden spoons ...

    The Mahoney's oil is probably a better choice for bowls.

    Al
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017
  5. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    I have been using La Tourangelle Roasted Walnut Oil for several years to make salad dressings as well as using it as an oil finish on wooden bowls and other kitchen items. Early last year I decided to buy a bottle of Mahoney's Walnut Oil to compare the two products. The density of both were equal at about 92 grams for 100 milliliters. I did an eyeball comparison of viscosity and they appeared to be the same. BTW, I found this research article on the viscosities of food oils which shows that walnut oil has the lowest viscosity of all the food oils investigated. The color of both looked exactly the same ... a very pale amber. I also did a sniff test and both seemed to have identical wonderful aromas. I haven't gotten around to making a salad dressing with Mahoney's Walnut Oil, but I presume that it would be OK since I didn't detect any hint of any VOC. :D

    Given that the price of La Tourangelle Roasted Walnut Oil and the price of Mahoney's Walnut Oil are comparable (Mahoney's is a few dollars more expensive), it seems reasonably likely to me that they are essentially identical. I'll try to post a picture tomorrow of a piece of maple where I applied the two walnut oils (March 9, 2016) and monitored their drying using the sniff test. As far as I could tell they both took the same length of time to dry.

    Walnuts are oil rich ... nearly 50% oil by weight. I believe that it's an Internet myth that Mahoney's Walnut Oil is made from the husks because I haven't found any evidence in all my searching that the husks contain any oil whatsoever, but there are 45 VOCs, some of which are toxins that help protect the nut from insects while it is developing. Here is a link to the NIH website listing the volatile organic compounds found in the husks: Walnut Husk VOCs. According to the WebMD, walnut husks also contain juglone which can cause tongue and lip cancer with repeated exposure. I would rank getting oil out of walnut husks on par with getting blood out of a turnip. :p
     
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  6. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    The 'salad' walnut oils and the bowl walnut oils are not the same, mostly due to how they are processed. There is a considerable amount of differences in the salad type oils as well. I can't remember all of it, but listening to Mike Meredith explain it (he is a chemist), it made sense. Some of the salad types will cure fine on wood bowls, and some do not. I have been using the Doc's oil for several years now. I prefer it because of his 'microagregated' carnuba wax. It goes on and flows without having to need any heat. He is also from Oregon.... Both are good products.

    robo hippy
     
  7. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    Al,
    I would caution you that walnut allergy is fairly common and might be triggered by exposure to those fresh oils. Compared to when our kids were little, parents today almost cannot bring treats to school due to all the perceived food issues the other kids might have. Nut allergies, especially peanuts, are actually quite a serious problem and can cause fatal reactions, so some of those parents are justifiably restrictive.
     
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  8. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    If a parent has a child with allergies I hope that they wouldn't just enroll the child in a woodturning class without first finding out what they might be exposed to. There are some wood species that gives my sinuses fits for days. I know some turners that have severe contact dermatitis to some tropical species.
     
  9. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    The walnut oils, both for salads and wood bowls are heat treated. This is supposed to break down the proteins that cause the allergic reaction. There are differences in different brands with how they heat treats, and how they are treated can determine how they dry/cure. I don't know the specifics, but I think The Doctor has it up on his web site. He did a demo and explained it to our club once, so I understood it then..... Raw nuts, could be a problem. I don't turn walnut any more because I get itchy...

    robo hippy
     
  10. Mike Johnson

    Mike Johnson

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    Robo,

    Sounds more like a chafing problem. ;)
     
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  11. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    I'm torn between liking your post or banning you or both. :D :eek: :rolleyes: :)
     
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  12. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    No, it isn't in my undies...... There are a couple of woods that irritate me now days, including Mimosa/Silk tree...

    robo hippy
     
  13. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    Reed,
    I agree with your points and personally rely on cured walnut oil not to cause allergic problems. Al's kids were described as potentially "licking" the freshly oiled wood, or at least coming in contact with the fresh oil, long before any curing could occur.
     
  14. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    That was a joke but intended as a worst case. Should have use. :)

    Allergies are always a potential problem but solvents and driers in many finishes are toxic until cured.
     
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  15. Zach LaPerriere

    Zach LaPerriere

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    I think you can't win with potential allergens if you're trying to find something no one will be allergic to. I continue to use walnut oil and tell people. Every bowl I sell includes a card that talks about bowl care, and on occasion I do commissions with no oil, such as for a sauerkraut mashers.

    As Al said, solvents and driers are problematic for many people, myself included. There is a potential for issues with walnut oil, though I have never heard of any.

    Flax oil is commonly used for allergy reasons, especially by spoon carvers and English turners. Quite a few years ago I developed flax sensitivities after having too much in my salads! I know of other people who can't handle flax as well.

    Another good option in my book is 100% pure Danish Oil (no solvents/thinners). It's essentially just heat treated linseed oil, which to my knowledge (which may be wrong) comes from flax. I have sensitivities to raw linseed oil having applied too much on boat projects in the past, but no issues with Danish Oil. So far at least!
     
  16. tdrice

    tdrice

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    When there has been a concern about allergies by clients I have used pharmaceutical grade mineral oil (available at any drugstore). It takes a couple of days to soak in and dry but I have had no complaints.
     
  17. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    Despite rumors to the contrary, no Danes are harmed in making Danish oil. :D

    Danish oil is nothing more than a mixture of boiled linseed oil, varnish, and solvents. I think that using the word "pure" in marketing can have misleading connotations that might not have anything to do with goodness. There are many formulations for DO so I wonder how one can claim to be more "pure" than another.
     
  18. Zach LaPerriere

    Zach LaPerriere

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    Bill,

    I understand that the word "Pure" can be misused, just like all the "natural" food out there that is chock full of high fructose corn syrup.

    My use of the word "Pure" is to clarify that there are NO solvents, and to the best of my understanding: no varnish. I talked with the VP of my preferred brand, Tried and True Danish Oil, after looking at the MSDS. To the best of my understanding, it's just a high grade of boiled linseed oil.

    Last year I had a visit from a very talented Danish woodworker. I asked him, and he said in Denmark, it's just pure boiled linseed oil. But the quality is somehow higher than the average, just like there are varying qualities of olive oil we put on our salads.

    Earlier in my professional woodworker career I used countless gallons of the standard Watco and other brands of Danish Oil. With all the thinners, it's a completely different product. With pure Danish Oil it goes on thin, needs multiple coats of many days, and takes a while to cure. The finish in my experience is superior, just as true varnish is better than the normal hardware store gunk called "varnish".
     
  19. Jesse Tutterrow

    Jesse Tutterrow

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    Thanks everyone!

    You have given me some great ideas. For the moment I think I will go with Mahoneys Walnut oil from the local Rockler store.
     

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