The Role of Chemistry in History

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Drying Oils

April 27th, 2008 · No Comments ·

Introduction  The History Tempera Paints vs. Oil Paints Drying Oils The Extraction of Linseed Oil Linolenic Acid So What? Oil Painting and History Bibliography


  • Oils: mixtures of triglycerides or fatty acids; are long chains of carboxylic acids, and may or may not contain double bonds
  • Drying oils contain high proportions of unsaturated acids, like linoleic or linolenic acids
  • Linseed oil has a larger percentage of linolenic acid than almost any other drying oil, which is why linseed oil is the primary drying oil used for oil painting
  • As linseed oil absorbs oxygen, its density increases and larger molecules are formed through the process of polymerization
  • After the drying process, the oil is in its solid form, known as linoxyn
  • Sometimes siccatives or driers are added to the oils in order to speed up the drying process

Alpha-Linolenic Acid



Tags: Alpha-linolenic Acid (Linseed Oil)