Linseed oil, also known as "flax seed oil" is a clear to yellowish
oil obtained from the dried ripe seeds of the flax plant. The oil
is obtained by cold pressing, sometimes followed by solvent
extraction. Linseed oil can polymerize and the reaction is
exothermic, and rags soaked in it can ignite spontaneously. Due to
its polymer-like properties linseed oil is used on its own or
blended with other oils, resins and solvents as an impregnator and
varnish in wood finishing, as a pigment binder in oil paints, as a
plasticizer and hardener in putty and in the manufacture of
linoleum. It is an edible oil, but because of its strong flavor and
odor is only a minor constituent of human nutrition, although it is
marketed as a nutritional supplement. The use of linseed oil has
declined over the past several decades with the increased use of
alkyd resins, which are similar but partially synthetic materials
that resist yellowing.
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