Lard is basically rendered pig fat, which can come from various parts of the animal. It’s usually made from sustainably raised pigs when the fat is slowly heated until any bits of flesh, skin, and membrane can be skimmed off.
In arts and painting, the paintbrushes were traditionally not only stored in lard oil but the oil is also used to extract and clean the paint out of the ferrals’ deepest areas, ensuring that the hairs stay free, clean, and soft.
Allowing a build-up of paint to form in the ferral of the paintbrush restricts the hairs’ mobility at their root. As a result, the hairs of your sable brushes can bend more sharply and break off or shed faster.
But by using products like lard oil, you can give your expensive paint brushes that extra protection needed without breaking the bank. It’s much like using homemade vegetable oil to condition your expensive paintbrushes.
Why Use Lard Oil for Paint Brushes?
Lard oil is a clear, colorless oil that comes from pure lard after it has crystallized or grained. It can be used as a lubricant, in cutting oils, and for making soap. The solid residue left over from pressing the lard oil, called lard stearin, can also be used in shortenings or as another source of saturated fatty acids.
You may be wondering why anyone would even consider using lard oil when there are so many other paintbrush cleaning solvents (like paint thinner, turpentine, mineral spirits, acetone, etc.) available on the market.
Well, the fact is that lard oil has been used for centuries to clean and protect paint brushes, and there’s a good reason why.
- First and foremost, lard oil is non-toxic and biodegradable, which means it’s gentle on your brushes and the environment.
- The oil is not only very effective at removing fresh and dried paint from brushes but can even be used to clean dried-out paint from the bristles making them soft again.
- Plus, lard oil is very affordable, so you won’t have to spend a lot of money to keep your paintbrushes in good condition.
The only problem with lard oil is it’s not easy to find them at online retail stores like Amazon, Walmart, or other hardware stores.
But if you already have it in your home and do not want to buy a new can of hazardous paint thinner for cleaning brushes, you will be better off using lard oil. Just make sure the container is clearly labeled after cleaning brushes so you don’t accidentally use it for cooking.
A word of caution – Instead of lard oil, if you choose walnut, canola, safflower, or poppy oil to clean your expensive paintbrushes, make sure they don’t contain Tocopherols or Vitamin E. These substances might extend the drying process.
How to Use Lard Oil to Clean Paint Brushes?
To use lard oil for cleaning paint brushes naturally, simply dip the bristles of the brush into the oil and then wipe them on a clean cloth.
If you are trying to clean the brush between different colors for your project, you do not need to thoroughly clean the brush. Just make sure that the traces of the previous paint are removed, so you do not transfer it to the next color.
In between usages, you can leave the brush in the oil for a few minutes before wiping it clean. But at the conclusion of each painting session, your paintbrush will require a thorough cleaning to remove any residues or traces of paint that may be trapped in the bristles.
This should be done by following the steps below.
- First, remove as much paint from the brush as possible by wiping it on a clean cloth or piece of paper towel.
- Next, dip the brush in lard oil and then wipe it on a clean cloth to remove any remaining paint.
- Rinse the brush in warm soapy water to remove any traces of oil.
- Give your brush a final rinse with clean water and allow it to air dry before storing.
Bear in mind that if you’re cleaning dried paint, stains, varnishes, or other finishes from brushes using lard oil, you may need to repeat the process a few times to remove all of the finishes.
Also, if the bristles of your brush lose their shape during the cleaning process, be sure to reshape them before storing them away.
What Can You Use Lard Oil for Other Than Cleaning Brushes?
Lard oil is so versatile that you never know what it can be used for around the house once you have some on hand.
So for those who are unaware, here are just a few other ways you can use lard oil:
1- Cooking and Baking Oil
Being a rendered animal fat, lard oil is often used as a cooking and baking ingredient. In place of other oils like vegetable oil or olive oil, you can use it in frying, sautéing, or baking.
2- Rust Prevention
Lard oil is also an excellent solution for preventing rust on metal surfaces. Simply apply a thin layer of lard oil to the surface with a clean cloth and then wipe it off. Your surface is protected for a few months.
3- Wood Polish and Conditioner
Lard oil can also be used to polish and condition wood. All you need is to apply a small amount to a clean cloth and then rub it into the wood in the direction of the grain.
Lard oil can also be used to condition and preserve leather. Be sure to work the small amount of oil in a circular motion while rubbing it into the leather with a soft cloth. The preservative will help preserve your leather items and keep them from drying out and cracking.
4- Seasoning Cast Iron
Ever wondered how your grandmother got her cast iron pans so black and shiny? It was probably lard oil.
Seasoning cast iron with lard oil is a great way to protect the pan and make it non-stick. To season a cast iron pan, simply rub a thin layer of lard oil all over the pan, and be sure to get into all of the crevices. Then, place the pan in a 350-degree oven for about an hour. Allow the seasoned pan to cool completely before using it.
5- Homemade WD-40 Alternative and Soap
Can’t find your bottle of spray in the garage? No problem. Lard oil can be used as a WD-40 alternative. Simply spray a small amount of lard oil onto whatever you need to lubricate, and it will do the trick.
Not only as a lubricant but it has been also used in the soap-making process for ages. It is a good idea to add lard oil to other oils, such as olive oil when making soap. This will add to the quality of the soap and make it more moisturizing.
6- Fire Starter for Camping and Partying
Simply soak some cotton balls in lard oil and store them in a small container. When you’re ready to start your fire, simply place a cotton ball under your wood and light it. The lard oil will help to get the fire going quickly and easily. It can be a great fire starter for a campfire or BBQ.
7- Soothing Skin and Shiny Hairs
Phew… it’s not that bad smelling and believe me, it’s not like rubbing your hands in pig fat. But you can consider it more like a soothing organic lotion for your skin and hair.
Dry, chapped hands, dry cuticles, and cracked lips, along with rough heels and elbows, can all benefit from a little lard oil. Just rub it in like you would any lotion and let it soak in. Your skin will feel better in no time.
Lard oil can also be used as a hair conditioner. Simply massage it into your scalp and let it sit for a few minutes before shampooing as usual.
The bottom line
Lard oil is a great preservative, cleaner, & conditioner that can help protect and prolong the life of the natural hairs of the paint brushes.
When using artists’ oil paints or even decorative house paints like chalk paints, it is critical to clean your brushes thoroughly. The last remaining colors in the brush will not harden if it is dipped and cleaned in lard oil. And it’s pretty simple to clean it out before painting again.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.