11 Alternative Oil Paint Mediums That People Use For Painting!

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We have noticed more and more people reaching out to ask for advice on a whole range of different mediums for their oil paints. Although we have already covered some of the more popular ones in other articles, we wanted to publish this article going over some of the less common mediums that are often household items that people can and do use for their oil paints.

Now, the performance of these alternative oil paint mediums does vary wildly from usable in certain circumstances to a total waste of time. As we work our way through the various options we will be going over the advantages and disadvantages of each of them to try and help ensure that our readers know that they are in for if they choose to use one of them.

That said though, for any serious oil paint artwork we would always recommend the main three mediums due to them usually offering superior performance. We have already have a dedicated article on them linked below if you want to check them out and see how they are able to benefit you and your oil painting:-

Lavender Oil For Oil Painting

Lavender spike oil has been used for various arts and crafts for decades with oil painting being on of its primary use cases. The oil tends to perform very well and a single bottle can end up lasting you for years even if you oil paint using lavender spike oil as your medium of choice on a regular basis helping you get the most out of your money.

Please note though, we are specifically talking about lavender spike oil, NOT the lavender oil used for essential oils, they are two totally different things that are intended for use in very different ways. We constantly see people making this mistake so just wanted to specifically make out readers aware of this common mix-up in the hope that they are able to avoid it.

The only real draw back of using lavender spike oil for your arts and crafts is that it tends to be a pain to plan your drying times due to it usually being so temperature sensitive. If you are painting on a hot day then your lavender spike oil will tend to dry quickly where as on a slow day it tends to dry much slower and although this may not be an issue for some of our readers, it could be a problem for some depending on what they are doing.

Rosemary Oil For Oil Painting

Although Rosemary oil is not used as much as some of the other oil mediums that are usually used for retarding the drying process of oil paint, it is becoming an increasingly popular option due to it being non-toxic. Although there are a few other non-toxic paint mediums available, oil of rosemary does tend to be one of the best options if you do need to slow the drying process for your paint for as long as possible.

That said though, in our opinion, it is not suitable for any serious oil paintwork that involves layers due to rosemary oil having strong solvent properties meaning that it is able to affect any underlying layers of paint. That said though, more and more people are using oil of rosemary as their medium of choice and getting some excellent results.

Unlike the lavender oil-covered above, there are a number of rosemary oil essential oil products that are cheap and work well when mixed with your oil paint such as this one. If you do go for a rosemary oil essential oil then be sure that there are no additives in it and that it is not synthesized and is 100% natural. This will ensure that you get the best possible results from your rosemary oil when used with your oil paints.

Clove Oil For Oil Painting

Although using clove oil for your oil painting can be hit and miss, a number of people use it as their go to medium of choice due to its low price, pleasant odor, and decent performance. Provided you go with an all natural clove oil the potential downsides should be minimised drastically as they are usually due to additives in the oil.

Some people will also use a touch of clove oil with other oil mediums to remove the harsh smell of the other oil and replace it with the pleasant odor of clove oil. Even a single drop of clove oil to your oil paints can easily help it flow smoothly on canvas, paper, and other paint mediums.

Potential downsides of using clove oil as your medium of choice do include potential darkening but this is rare with a natural clove oil and a decent brand of oil paints. Clove oil can condense during the drying process and leave a very fine surface on your oil paint too but this seems to only happen about half of the time and we don’t know why it will form for some paintings and why it doesn’t for others.

Grapeseed Oil For Oil Painting

Although you are able to use grapeseed oils as a paint medium, its performance changes drastically depending on the ratio of fats in the oil and how refined it has been. We always recommend that you try to find a ratio of 80:20 of polyunsaturated fat to monounsaturated fat in your mediums so you would need a grapeseed oil like this one that matches that ratio.

That said though, there are additional potential issues with grapeseed oil that depending on how refined the oil actually is as the impurities can cause issues such as yellowing and color fade in your paints. Due to this, even if you can find a grapeseed oil that matches the 80:20 ratio, you still have to do a little test prior to using it on serious artwork to see how it performs.

Due to the extremely low prices of grapeseed oil in parts of Asia, Europe, and South America, it is very common for people to use it as their oil paint medium of choice as the other mediums simply cost much more than grapeseed. As we mentioned though, you do have to test any potential grapeseed oils to see how they perform with your oil paints and then decide if you want to use it for some serious artwork or not.

Hemp Oil For Oil Painting

Some people have managed use hemp oil as their oil paint medium and managed to get some very good results from it but the amount of work required to find suitable hemp oil as well as prep it for use with your oil paints is simply to much for the majority of people. Until a commercial company decide to refine hemp oil to a suitable grade for use with oil paints, we doing that this is going to change any time soon.

Due to there being so many suitable oil paint mediums that already have a solid market, we feel that it is unlikely that any of the established arts and crafts brands will risk trying to introduce a new product into the market that has minimal demand either. Due to this, we feel that hemp oil will only ever be used by a very small number of people who have the free time available to prep it correctly for use.

Please note that if you just take the standard hemp oil products currently available on the market, it is unlikely that you will be able to get good results from it with your paints. This is due to the oil ratios being off as well as most hemp oils having a number of impurities within it that need to be removed for optimal performance.

Vegetable Oil For Oil Painting

Although the majority of vegetable oil is made from soybeans, there are a small number that are made from more suitable oils for use in painting such as safflower. That said though, it is estimated that over eighty percent of the global vegetable oil market is made up from oil derived from soybeans essentially making it a total waste of time.

There is no reason to take a gamble with vegetable oil and hope that the product you end up with is based on safflower oil when you can simply buy a bottle of safflower oil and be guaranteed to get a suitable oil medium. If you are on a very tight budget and are only able to use oils currently in your home, you can check the label of your vegetable oil to see if it is made from safflower but the chances are low.

If you are in Europe then there is a chance that your “vegetable oil” will actually be a fruit oil and be made from oilive oil, coconut oil, or palm oil that tends to offer better performance than oils derived from Soy. If you are in North America the chances of you getting a fruit oil is minimal though and it is very likey that it will be a soy based oil in your bottle.

Cooking Oil For Oil Painting

The term cooking oil actually covers a wide number of different types of oil with some of the cheaper cooking oils actually being a mixture of different types of oil all mixed into one formula. Due to this, we don’t recommend that you even consider any type of cooking oil unless you specifically know exactly what type of oil it is in the bottle.

For example, sunflower oil is a type of cooking oil and it can perform well as a oil medium as covered in our article on using sunflower oil for painting but there does tend to be better options. Some of the other popular types of cooking oil have their own dedicated sections within this article too going into more detail on how they perform.

If your bottle of cooking oil does not offer any indication of what it is actually made of then we would recommend that our readers avoid using it with their oil paints. It could be a low quality synthetic oil or a mixture of other oils that usually results in poor performance as a paint medium.

Sesame Oil For Oil Painting

Although some people do use sesame oil as their medium of choice, we never recommend that our readers do this as there are a number of common issues when using sesame oil as a medium. Although it can thin your oil paints, it takes a long time to dry and sesame oil will only semi-dry making it a paint for any layer work.

Depending on the actual formula used in the sesame oil you use, there may be a number of additives too that can react to your oil paints and cause problems with your paints cracking and peeling. Sesame oil is also very high in anti-oxidants that can end up causing additional issues with your oil paints causing your artwork to deteriorate at a rapid pace.

Sesame oil can also start to yellow within a month potentially ruining your artwork too with this yellowing being unavoidable if you have used sesame oil for your medium. Thankfully, there are plenty of other options that you are able to use that offer much better performance with linseed oil being our primary recommendation but many of the other options on this list will perform better than sesame oil.

Castor Oil For Oil Painting

Another oil that some people do try to use as a medium for their oil paints is castor oil but we usually recommend against this as the downsides are just too high when compared to the benefits it offers. The main downside of using castor oil as your paint medium is that it starts to yellow very quickly and it is a heavy, obvious yellow that will effect all colors.

To our knowledge, there is no refined castor oil available on the market either and the various impurities in raw castor oil can have a drastic effect on the drying time for your paints too. If you are wanting a nice and consistent drying time for your oil paints so you can build layers up quickly then castor oil is not for you.

We have actually seen reports from people saying they have used the same bottle of castor oil on the same day with different colors and different brands of oil paints with each one having a very different drying time. Going with something like linseed oil will probably be a much better option for you and offer a more consistent experience.

Tung Oil For Oil Painting

More and more people have been asking about using tung oil for their oil painting with some people having tried it but we would not recommend it. Tung oil is designed to be used as an outdoor wood finish and does not have the properties required for a suitable paint medium and ends up causing various issues.

Not only does it start to yellow quickly but it also tends to dry brittle making it surprisingly easy to crack your oil paints and cause parts of it to fall off your canvas. There have also been reports that tung oil has had reactions to some oil paint formulas causing a thin film to form on top of the paint once dry too so we feel that it is just not worth using.

Please keep in mind though, tung oil is an excellent product for what it was actually designed for, outdoor wood finishes. It was never intended for use with oil paints so it is not surprising that it ends up having some bad side effects that end up causing issues with your artwork.

Baby Oil For Oil Painting

We have noticed more and more people asking if they are able to use baby oil as a suitable medium for their oil paints and we would highly recommend that you avoid it at all costs. Baby oil is a mineral based oil so it doesn’t dry completely rendering it useless for use with oil paints as it prevents the paint from setting onto your canvas and prevents you from doing any layer work.

We have seen some people suggest that you are able to use baby oil with other types of oil but this still holds the same issue as only using baby oil. All mineral based oils such as baby oil will prevent your oil paint from drying correctly, even a single drop so there is no point in mixing other oils that are suitable mediums in with baby oil as you are essentially just wasting your medium.

We have seen some people say that they use baby oil to help them clean their paint brushes but we would recommend against this as well in all honesty. The oil tends to stay on your brushes longer than most people think and can end up getting into your paint via your brushes and causing the same issues covered above.


That brings our article going over some of the lesser known oil paint mediums that people use. We hope that we have been able to help our readers avoid using some of the oils that are sometimes recommended on various forums and social media that actually perform poorly and that you now know the various options that tend to perform well with oil paint.