Painting oil

Oil used to make oil paints comes from several sources; the most common used is linseed oil, made by boiling the seed of the flax plant. The oil is then mixed with pigments to attain color. Art paints use a slightly different form of linseed oil than a basic house-paint or general-use paint. General-use oil paints are made to dry very quickly, and with varying gloss.

Common pigment bases include lead bases, cadmium bases, and earth bases. In recent times, synthetic pigments have become popular; however many are not tested well for their lightfastness.

Many older paints are now being less used in favor of these newer pigments. It is now much less possible to buy true lead white oil paint, which used to be the main choice for white. Flake White is made from white lead. Zinc white and titanium white are now much more popular, however both are slightly more brittle than flake white. All white pigments and many of the lighter yellows are mixed with safflower oil or poppy oil which are slower drying than linseed oil, and do not yellow when dry.

Notes for usage of oil paints

Many oil paints contain toxic chemicals. Lead is known to cause cancer with prolonged exposure and cadmium can cause cancer with prolonged inhalation.
Wash your hands well and avoid unventilated rooms when painting.
Paper or rags soaked in pure linseed oil are known to spontaneously ignite. Be sure to soak the rag in water or seal it in a bag of water or metal can.
Although synthetic pigments are popular, there are no good synthetic pigments to replace the cadmium colors.
As with all oils, linseed oil is highly resistant to water and requires some sort of paint thinner (soap, turpentine, benzene-based thinners) to clean up.
It is now much less possible to buy true lead white oil paint. Flake White is made from white lead. It is only available as art paint. Caution when using is recommended.