Explore Natural Spike Lavender Oil for Oil Painting

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Spike oil is a natural, less toxic alternative to turpentine. It is used as a solvent for oil paints and tempera emulsions and to prepare natural varnishes. Learn more.

Spike oil is a natural, low-toxic substitute for turpentine. It can be used as a solvent for oil painting and in egg-oil emulsion tempera recipes. It was used historically in oil painting as early as the fifteenth century. It is believed that spike oil improves the handling of oil-based paints because it promotes oxidation instead of simply evaporating like most solvents. However, this has not been verified by scientific testing. Unlike other solvents, a small amount goes a long way and has a pleasant smell. It evaporates slower than turpentine, mineral spirits (white spirits), and odorless mineral spirits (OMS).

Uses in Art

Spike oil can be used to thin oil paint like other common solvents, such as turpentine. It is also an effective solvent for natural resins, such as dammar, mastic, sandarac, gum elemi, and copal, in conjunction with turpentine.

Charles Eastlake cited the historical use of spike oil in Materials for a History of Oil Painting. These writers referred to the propensity of blue pigments, specifically azurite and smalt, to sink into the paint, causing excessive oil accumulation to the surface. The large particles of these pigments are heavy and sink while the oil paint dries, giving the color a dull and greenish appearance. The addition of spike oil reduced the amount of oil binder and encouraged faster drying to prevent the blue pigment from sinking in, which is the cause of fading and changing to green.

For complete information about spike oil, please read Lavender Spike Oil: Source, History and Use in Painting.

Lavandin Grosso: Source of Our Spike Oil

Most people don’t realize there are a variety of different lavender essential oils. One of the lesser-known materials is Lavandin grosso, a hybrid created from true lavender (Lavendulan augustifolia) and spike lavender (Lavendulan latifolia). True lavender typically grows higher in the mountains, while spike lavender grows in lower elevations. Where the two varieties tend to meet, they eventually cross-pollinate, and Lavandin came into being. In general, it is a larger plant than true lavender and yields a higher production of oil. Lavandin grosso is the source of our spike oil because of its lower cost. It has a stronger scent with a slightly different note and is more economical than the other lavender choices.

Our spike oil is imported from France, where it is extracted from the flowering tops of cultivated Lavandin (Lavandula x. intermedia Grosso) and steam distilled to high purity. The essential oil is completely natural with nothing added.


Both lavender oil and lavandin oil are considered non-toxic and have GRAS status. Considering the high usage of lavender oil in aromatherapy, the reported incidence of skin reactions is low.

A report commissioned by Art Tree LLC a supplier of spike lavender oil determined the following: “Evide “tial data are supportive that Spike Lavender Oil would not cause a chronic health effect with acute or prolonged dermal or inhalation exposure. The potential for idiosyncratic allergenicity may exist and should be forewarned, but this effect would be readily identified and reversible. It is not proposed as a label caution. Adverse effects during pregnancy are unknown but assumed minimal, given the history of product use. It is not proposed as a label caution.” See” the full report.

A word of caution: Spike oil naturally contains several types of substances, such as linalool (CAS No. 78-70-6), linalyl acetate (CAS No. 115-95-7), camphor (CAS No. 21368-68-3), 1,8-cineole (eucalyptol, CAS No. 470-82-6)  and limonene (CAS No. 5989-27-5), that in sufficient amounts can cause acute toxicological reactions. A safety data sheet for Lavandin Grosso is available here. As far as we know, no studies have been performed on the effects of inhaling spike oil, and OSHA has not established permissible levels in the workplace. This means that the effects of inhaling spike oil are unknown, so artists should take precautions and use this product with adequate ventilation and protective gear.

Note: In the opinion of Natural Pigments, users of spike oil should use caution and avoid personal exposure to the vapors by wearing a half-mask respirator with an organic vapor cartridge in a well-ventilated studio.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between lavender oil and spike lavender oil?

Spike oil, extracted from Lavandin grosso, is distinct from common lavender oil, which comes from Lavandula angustifolia. Spike oil contains higher camphor content, making it more potent and ideal for use in art mediums and varnishes due to its robust solvent properties.

Can you use lavender oil for oil painting?

Regular lavender oil is generally not recommended for oil painting due to its lower camphor content and less effective solvent properties compared to spike oil, which is better suited for thinning paints and cleaning brushes.

When should you not use lavender oil?

Avoid using lavender oil if you have allergies to lavender or have skin conditions that react to potent essential oils. Pregnant and nursing women are advised to consult healthcare providers before using essential oils, including lavender oil.

What happens if you put lavender oil directly on your skin?

Applying lavender oil directly to the skin without dilution may cause irritation or allergic reactions, particularly for those with sensitive skin. It's advisable to perform a patch test or dilute it with a carrier oil.

What are the precautions of lavender oil?

Precautions include avoiding direct contact with eyes, sensitive areas, and undiluted application on the skin. It's also important to store lavender oil away from direct sunlight and heat to maintain its efficacy and prevent degradation.

Chemical Analysis

Product Information
AppearancePale yellow liquid
Refractive Index @ 20º C. (ISO 280)1.461
Optical Rotation @ 20º C (ISO 592)-3.10º
Specific Gravity @ 20º C (ISO 279)0.896
Major Components—Percent by Gas Chromatographic (GC) profile according to ISO 11024)
ComponentCAS NumberPercent
linalyl acetate15-95-725.60
1,8-cineole (eucalyptol) + β-phellandrene470-82-6 + 555-10-27.10
More Information
BrandRublev Colours
VendorRublev Colours
Processing TimeOrders ship on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The toxicity information provided below is based on the major ingredient of spike oil, linalool.

Signal Word: WARNING

Hazard Statements

Combustible liquid

Causes skin irritation

Causes serious eye irritation

May cause an allergic skin reaction

Precautionary Statements

Wash face, hands and any exposed skin thoroughly after handling.

Wear protective gloves/protective clothing/eye protection/face protection.

Avoid breathing dust/fume/gas/mist/vapors/spray.

Contaminated work clothing should not be allowed out of the workplace.

Keep away from heat/sparks/open flames/hot surfaces. No smoking.

IF ON SKIN: Wash with plenty of soap and water. Take off contaminated clothing and wash before reuse. If skin irritation or rash occurs: Get medical advice/attention.

IF IN EYES: Rinse cautiously with water for several minutes. Remove contact lenses, if present and easy to do. Continue rinsing. If eye irritation persists: Get medical advice/attention.

Fire: In case of fire: Use CO2, dry chemical, or foam for extinction.

Storage: Store in a well-ventilated place. Keep cool.

Disposal: Dispose of contents/container to an approved waste disposal plant.

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