Hard Wax Oil as medium? [Archive] - Artist Forum

: Hard Wax Oil as medium?

M Winther
05-14-2016, 06:48 AM
Hello! I'm new. I'm especially interested in oil painting techniques, including different mediums, etc. In fact, this was an obsession with the Old Masters, who kept many secrets from each other. Something which has caught my attention is Hard Wax Oil (http://www.unearthedpaints.com/products/hard-wax-oil), which is used as durable finish for wood. It is made from drying oils, waxes, and resins. It is designed to be non-yellowing and to retain a degree of flexibility.

On the surface, it seems ideal for oil painting, to be used as medium. It shortens drying time and should create a durable paint layer. It seems ideal for glazing, too. "Hard" means that it contains no additives which could be incompatible with oil paint, such as water.

I am right now testing Herdins Hard Wax Oil (a Norwegian brand). On a canvas, I painted some patches of oil paint with much wax oil in them. After a few hours it is almost dry to the touch. I think oil painters should investigate this alternative, because regular linseed medium causes diverse problems, such as yellowing. Nor is it particularly archival, because most old paintings show signs of craquelure. I suppose different brands of Hard Wax Oils have different formulas. They ought to investigated properly, and their different properties compared. Herdins has about the same viscosity as regular oil painting medium (linseed oil + solvent), so it should be ideal for most painters.

The Hard Wax Oil which I linked to ("unearthed") contains the following ingredients: linseed oil, carnauba wax, tung oil, linseed stand oil, tung stand oil, colophonium glycerine ester, lead-free drying agents. All these ingredients are compatible with oil paint, as far as I know.

Mats Winther

05-14-2016, 09:00 AM
Welcome to the forum M Winter. Sounds like you are really sold on Hard Wax Oil. I'll have to check it out. Currently I mostly use Walnut Alkyd Medium. For impasto thickness I use Lukas Medium 5, this also goes by the name of Painting Butter. I'm always on the look out of better products to use.

M Winther
05-14-2016, 09:54 AM
Thanks. Well, alkyd medium is ideal, so there's no reason to change it. Moreover, Hard Wax Oil isn't cheaper. It's about the same price, I guess. However, since one doesn't need much, I suppose it lasts longer. Some people don't like the viscosity of Liquin Original. They say it's like painting with ketchup. So perhaps this could be something for them, at least when glazing. Another idea is to mix it with Gamblin Cold Wax Medium.

The Old Masters always tried to invent new recipes, such as Maroger (http://www.oldmastersmaroger.com/flemish-maroger-1/), to improve the properties of oil paint. They always competed about assignments. That's why they waited until the painting had dried before they hanged it. Otherwise other masters could sniff the painting and deduce the components. So we probably don't have the correct recipe for Maroger medium, today. Much knowledge has been lost.

Of course, such knowledge won't help me to make a masterpiece. I am just curious. Another thing I'm going to try is to make my own gesso. I recently bought a can of Galeria gesso. When I opened the can, the binder had separated and the gesso had turned into a plastic clump, which was unusable. So gesso can't be kept that long, it seems. Instead, I'm going to use plain acrylate house paint, and mix calcium bentonite into it.

I am also speculating that Hard Wax Oil could be used as permanent varnish for oil paintings. It would give a matte or satin surface that repels dirt. (Nobody is going to renovate my paintings, anyway.)


M Winther
05-14-2016, 11:15 AM
Correction: Herdins is a Swedish brand. I have written to Herdins and asked what are the ingredients of their Hard Wax Oil. We have much stuff over here that you probably haven't heard of, such as Beckers "A" oil paint. It is the oldest industrially made oil paint. It was also first to comply with Keim's criteria for permanence, etc., something which was later copied by other manufacturers. Today, the Swedish family business Lindéngruppen, through the subsidiary ColArt, incorporates many other brands, as well, such as Winsor & Newton, Liquitex, Reeves, Lefranc & Bourgeois, etc., making it the world's leading supplier of artists' materials. Curiously, Beckers "A" is today manufactured in France and England, but is only used by Scandinavian artists.


M Winther
05-16-2016, 10:29 PM
I've found out the formula of Herdins Hard Wax Oil. It is much different than Unearthed. Herdins uses naphta (i.e. a petroleum solvent), paraffin wax, quartz silicates, and small amounts of a few other additives, such as ethanol and zirconium carboxylate. Naphta, paraffin, and silicates, are compatible with oil paint, because they have been used before. Paraffin and silicates make the paint slightly more matte, which is attractive. So it seems that this could be an ideal medium. My colour patches have now dried and they look fine.

[Correction: "Hard Wax" Oil refers to the fact that a hard wax is used, such as paraffin.]


05-17-2016, 07:49 AM
You are a wealth of information.