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Olfactory description for refined linseed oils for paints: Characterization for reconstructing material and craft knowledge in paintmaking

Journal article
Authors Arja Källbom
A. Nilsen
A. Orstrom
Published in Journal of Sensory Studies
Volume 34
Issue 2
ISSN 0887-8250
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Conservation
Language en
Keywords standardized system, sensory vocabulary, perception, aroma, consumers, language, Food Science & Technology
Subject categories Architectural conservation and restoration


The aim of this study is to formulate an olfactory description for refined linseed oils, for paintmaking purposes, in order to redevelop and articulate material and craft knowledge relevant to cultural heritage. By using the repertory grid method, common in food and beverage sensory consumer analysis, different types of refined linseed oils available on professional market are examined regarding odor qualities by traditional Swedish architectural painting professionals (32 working or studying painters and paintmakers). With semantic analysis, statistical processing, and principal component analysis, an olfactory description is defined. The analysis reveal that the odor qualities of the linseed oils can be correlated to the types of linseed oils and hence their heating temperatures. Raw, heated, high-temperature boiled, and vacuum-boiled linseed oils can be verbally distinguished by typical odor qualities ranging from for instance mild and grassy to pungent and decaying. The olfactory description will be used in further work for sensory examinations, combined with natural sciences and craft sciences to verbalize experiences of linseed oil with different film-forming characteristics in order to regain lost knowledge concerning linseed oil (anticorrosive) paints for maintenance and conservation of historic buildings and constructions. Practical applications An olfactory description enables traditional architectural painting professionals to judge and discuss linseed oil qualities in traditional architectural painting and paintmaking, for redeveloping tangible and intangible craft skills. Sensory analysis methods access new tools for cultural heritage studies and enables craft persons to train their attention to odors as rapid quality indicators for different types of oils for various outdoor building or iron/steel construction painting purposes.

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