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Jeremy V. Krause

Location: Buffalo, NY.
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PostPosted: Thu 15 May, 2008 1:25 pm    Post subject: musings on historical oiling of metal         Reply with quote

Hello Everyone,

In oiling one of my pieces today a thought came up. I use a small towel impregnated with a kitchen safe sharpening stone oil used on kitchen knives. Through my collecting career I started with olive oil, then moved to wd 40, then moved to breakfree oil- which works very well. I use this current oil because it has no smell and to me seems optimal. But this is not a post about what method one prefers for metal preservation so don't go there.

What I have noticed through this process is that I still have periodic tiny spots that show up albeit rarely. This could be due to my inefficiency but that is again not the point of this post.

My point is that historically olive oil or animal fats were used with less than the cleanest of application mediums (i.e. dirty cloths). Were animal fats thicker than modern oils thus providing a thicker/better protective layer thus perhaps negating the issue of less than sanitary application methods?

Has anyone used more historical oils? I did use olive oil for years and it did work rather well but it tended to drip and was a bit messy. Historically, olive oil was not easily available in northern Europe (or maybe it was).

Maybe folks used wax historically though, in modern times, I have not heard of this application in a metal save for storage and display.

Have folks used animal fats at all and what is your experience with them. Do people believe that rust was more of a problem than we experience today requiring maintenance or is this a question that cannot be answered.

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