MEGray

M.E. Gray

185 posts

Hi! I'm M.E., a coffee-drinking, stitch-loving blogger hailing from the Twin Cities. I transplanted here from the Sunshine State where I attended… read more

Comments - How to Make Authentic Oilcloth

Jake Sterling on Jan 20, 2019:

I’m a retired house painter so I know quite a lot about linseed oil, mineral spirits, etc. Linseed oil oxidizes as it dries. This is what makes the protective skin but this oxidization also produces heat. Once dry, it is perfectly safe. However, boiled linseed oil does contain added “driers” and these are often based on heavy metals. Not a huge danger but don’t let your kid chew on it.

I would use turpentine rather tha mineral spirits. It’s natural and it smells better


Ila on Jan 11, 2019:

Thank you so much for this! I bought "oilcloth" from Amazon, only to realize when it arrived, that it is actually stinky vinyl! So now I will make my own. I was stupid to think I could get the real deal from Amazon.


KB on Oct 07, 2018:

Mineral spirits and turpentine are both solvents. They are used to aid the oil - linseed in any form raw, stand, boiled, etc) - to penetrate the fabric or wood, to speed drying time, or to make more fluid. Once the solvent is dry, it does not leave any hazards with contact. Real Milk Paint Company has an excellent explanation of this process with tung oil and solvent, a process which I have used on my wood counter tops. The concerns around plastics are that the molecules continue to migrate, this is why all the concern around heating plastic food containers, etc. The other concern with vinyl is that it continues to off-gas through its material life, while mineral spirits and turpentine do not, they have a short off-gasing period. These are the volatile organic compounds, VOCs, that we hear about and that have been by regulation largely removed from conventional paints (latex and acrylic house paints), that's a good thing for young, developing lungs. It hasn't been discussed in this thread, but I would guess that if you can still strongly smell the oil on a DIY oilcloth then it still has the potential for spontaneous combustion. As a painter, the rule was always to spread out rags to avoid combustion or store in a firesafe metal container. I'd like to try this, but will keep it on the clothesline for awhile, though the oil itself is not a concern for food contact.


MEGray on May 11, 2017:

@Lynn so glad to hear it! Oilcloth would make a great outdoor backing material. Good luck with your project! =)


Lynn on May 10, 2017:

Thank you SO much for this! I have pinned it 3 times. I've been looking for something to back a picnic quilt I'm making. I've seen suggestions of shower curtains - yuch! I've been looking at "oilcloth" fabric and it's either ugly or too expensive. This will work the best. I've used linseed oil before - mixed with turpentine to stain a fence...Thanks again!


Anonymous on Jun 14, 2015:

This British company sells 'oilskin'  

http://merchantandmills.com/products/oilskin/ 


Spencer on Apr 08, 2015:

The linseed oil odor lingers for  a few months.  I hung my coated canvas bags out side for a week and that helped a lot.


Megan R. on Apr 08, 2015:

I remember from being an art student that linseed has a very distinctive odor. How does this work out when making oilcloth for a tablecloth??


Spencer on Jan 06, 2015:

Many older oil cloth recipes use beeswax and linseed oil. I have coated several homemade canvas bags with a mixture of of the above and a little mineral spirits to keep the mixture soft.  It is a lot of work to get it evenly coated but the end result is a bag that will be highly water resistant and wear like Iron. I have two bags that have stood up to 14 years of hunting and boating.


Anonymous on Oct 29, 2014:

You really do not need to use terpentine. Some linseed oils have terpentine in them but some do not. Boiled linseed oil has terpentine in it. I would just use natural linseed oil and make sure it does not catch fire because Linseed oil has a tendancy to self-heat as it dries.


Martha on Aug 29, 2014:

@Nadine, I'm sure that turpentine like many substances is toxic if taken internally, and that at least some people will be sensitive to it on the skin.  According to wikipedia:

"As an organic solvent, its [turpentine's] vapour can irritate the skin and eyes, damage the lungs and respiratory system, as well as the central nervous system when inhaled, and cause renal failure when ingested, among other things. Being combustible, it also poses a fire hazard. Due to the fact that turpentine can cause spasms of the airways particularly in people with asthma and whooping cough, it can contribute to a worsening of breathing issues in persons with these diseases if inhaled."

Most spray paints have similar characteristics. Like other chemical substances, turpentine should be used with care. It seems to me that some people would also be sensitive to traditional oilcloth for the same reasons if it was in long-term contact with their skin. However, oilcloth does have characteristics that would make some people want to use it. Artists have used turpentine carefully for many years, but I would not recommend its use by children.

Martha


woolylam on Aug 29, 2014:

I've used tung oil wiht citrus solvent to cure wood and stone and in my research it looks like tung oil was used for cloth and paper too.  Am definitely going to try that.  Got them at realmilkpaint.com


Christen on Aug 27, 2014:

Hi,  I would like to know where I can send fabric (tablecloth) to have it turned into oilcloth.  Your article above mentions that there are several companies but I can not access that link.

Thank you,


Pete Bianco on Aug 05, 2014:

Beware, what is sold as "boiled" linseed oil in the hardware store actually contains toxic solvents as drying agent instead of using the traditional boiling method. I am reading alot about toxic chemicals lately after geting a chemical allergy from using a product called liquid wrench. I have since learned that it contains cancer causing benzene. Varnishes and linseed oils can contain toluene which is used in shale gas extraction aka "fracking. It is a neurotoxicant and exposure to it has been proven to lower ones IQ. It is also found in nail polish and people can develop an addiction to it. Fortunately we found solventfrepaint.com who sells "all back" organic boiled linseed oil to finish our wood floors with. I recomend this product and the book "detoxify or die" by sherry rogers. Glad I found this post I will attempt to use "all back" to make my oil skin. Thanks for the how to.

P.S. mineral spirits and polyurethane are toxic too.


Anonymous on Nov 09, 2013:

Hello, I've used a 50/50 mix of boiled linseed oil and mineral turpentine (or white spirits i some areas). Straight linseed oil doesn't dry. The mix I've just described will dry within about 48 hours.


H. Gillis on Nov 09, 2013:

http://www.solventfreepaint.com/cleaned_linseed_oil.htm  This site deals in linseed oil in case someone needs a connection.


Linda on Oct 22, 2013:

I tried to make this with the kids using your helpful intructions, however I didnt quite manage to source all the materials and ended up in a mess :D. Ended up buying a <a href="http://bluejigsaw.com.com">oilcloth</a> from blue jigsaw instead.  Was good enough.

Linda


Sally on May 16, 2013:

Coco you can find it online...it's usually 15-25 $ a yard...The Vermont Country Store has some pretty reasonable right now.  


Coco on May 15, 2013:

Do you have any reccomendations as to where you can purchase genuine oilcloth?  All I can find on the internet is the fake PVC cloth.  I'd really like to be able to buy some of the real deal to make a tablecloth for a friend.


Nadine on Apr 22, 2013:

Donna, wouldn't the urathane crack? you could try it on some scrap fabric.


Donna on Apr 22, 2013:

I have some new, store bought cotton placemats.  I thought I would spray a couple of thin coats of clear polyurethane on them to  protect them from the messy eater (my husband) in the house.  I've been searching online and haven't found any references to this application.  Is there a reason this would not work?


Nadine on Jan 23, 2013:

@Martha in Oregon, Isn't Turpentine toxic?


Martha in Oregon on Jan 23, 2013:

For those worrying about toxicity of linseed oil, another site recommends mixing one cup of soy oil with 4 oz of turpentine. Spray or paint on and lay the fabric flat to dry. http://www.wikihow.com/Waterproof-Fabric


Does someone want to try it and let us know how it turns out?


rob roof on Jun 18, 2012:

go to solventfreepaint.com to get the best linseed oils, paints and varnishes. all solvent free. I've been restoring a 120 year old house in silverton co, using these oils and paints, and I'm blown away. I'm going to make some oilcloth work clothes. should be especially functional for my job oil painting buildings...


Add Your Comment!

(2000 character limit)