Clove oil usage

Hi DMPers. Can anyone please give me links to the information that using clove oil does not harm the oil paint or render it more soluable later on to varnish removing solvents?

Can anyone point me to the source that states Mr. Carder verified with a painting conservationist or oil paint chemist who told him that adding clove oil will not hurt the paint?  

This has come up here on a regular basis as a sidebar discussion to other points.


  • I don’t have a link to that but I have used the Geneva paint and the 2% clove in walnut oil with no varnish related issues.  I varnishes and revarnish paintings multiple times without having the paint wipe off into the microfiber cloth that I use.  I use gamsol when removing varnish.
  • Desertsky

    Can anyone point me to the source that states Mr. Carder verified with a painting conservationist or oil paint chemist who told him that adding clove oil will not hurt the paint?


  • @GTO and @Dencal - thank you. GTO, do you know what percentage clove oil is in the Geneva paint?  Denis, YES! that is what I was looking for. 

    The two commercial paint brands I have experience with which stay open for about 3-4 days with nothing added to them are Doak and Blue Ridge.  The exceptions are the earth colors. I won't use Doak anymore because of the mystery ingredients. But the Blue Ridge are good paints at reasonable prices. 
  • I don’t know the Geneva clove % but marks ingredients list for mix your own medium states 2%

  • @GTO - About how much SDM do you add to your paint? 20%, 30%, etc.?  For comparison, I usually add about 10-15% medium to my paint. I find a big difference in how long a paint stays open, depending on the brand. I suspect most brands available here in the US add a drier. 
  • @desert for Geneva I only add oil to the white and the umber.  The rest of the colors have enough oil in them to flow off the brush.  For Winton paint I add enough so that if I tilt my pallet knife sideways the paint falls off easily.  Mark has a video about this for mixing your own medium.  
    @Suez I always coat the ACM with gesso and in many cases also with an lead oil ground on top of that gesso.  Nothing is going to get through to the aluminum or the white coating on top.
  • edited October 5
    @GTO - thanks AGAIN. I have watched that video courtesy of Dencal, and it looks as if Mr. Carder adds SDM at between 25-50% of the volume of paint. So, if the SDM contains about 2% (don't you love all the scientific estimates?) clove oil, this means that the final paint with SDM added to it contains between 0.3% - 0.6% clove oil. 

    I asked at the MITRA site what percentage clove will create problems down the road for the paint surface, and they actually don't know. 

    Have any of you who use clove oil noticed a problem with the paint drying tacky or lifting afterwards?
  • I have not noticed any issues with the paint drying other than it takes longer to dry.  But I don’t paint with globs of paint and I wait until it is thoroughly dry before varnishing. And I varnish with a brush using gamvar.  I’ve subsequently removed the gamvar and revarnish a panel three times without havyany paint come off the ACM panel.
  • @Suez - I don't know. As far as I know, clove oil is not a toxic solvent when used normally: don't bathe in it, don't eat it, don't sniff it, etc. 
  • If folks are worried about the effect of clove oil on the durability of the paint film, or if they are worried it might be toxic (enough of anything is toxic) or corrosive, then the solution is simple. Don't use it. You don't need it. Paint mixed with walnut oil as medium stays open for many days, depending on the pigment. The earth colours stay open for a shorter period but they are cheap so it's no big deal if a bit dries before you get to use it.  Stop worrying. Just paint. And post your work for C&C and to inspire/encourage others. :)
  • @Tassieguy - I agree. Too many science experiments. I was enquiring about clove oil because I don't know much about it, and there was a long discussion on a different forum about how harmful it was to  paint curing properly.  I trust the good sense and observations of the users here, like @GTO

    I have run into brands of paint which dry surprisingly fast, and even more surprisingly at the same rate, despite the different pigments. So, I think there are driers in these.

    I try to use paint with no driers, extenders or other weird stuff. As you stated, these stay open for several days. Add some walnut oil, maybe wrap up at night, and they will stay open longer. 
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