Common ingredients: natural oil-based flooring stains and sealants

Representative Manufacturers


Used in Product Categories: Natural Oil Wood Finishes, Floor Sealants and Coatings, Flooring Finishes, Flooring, Wood Flooring, Engineered Wood Flooring, Wall Protection, Solid Unfinished Wood Flooring, Solid PreFinished Wood Flooring, Natural Oil Wood Finishes Components

CSI MasterFormat 2004: 09 93 33 Finishes: Floor Sealants and Coatings

Content status: Sufficient Content Record

Description: Not provided

Website (if applicable): Not provided

Pharos Team Notes:

Natural oil-based penetrating finishes sink into wood. These finishes can include a variety of natural oils. Linseed and tung oils are most common. Other oils include soybean, safflower, sunflower seed, lemon, and walnut oils. 

Despite the name, the typical “natural oil” finish contains between one-third and one-half petrochemical ingredients. Commonly sold formulations include hydrocarbon waxes and petroleum distillates (also called ‘mineral spirits’). These petroleum-derived solvents penetrate the wood, which contribute to VOC emissions.

Some natural ingredients may be mixed with agents that speed the finish drying times. [1] Heavy metal-based drying agents have posed historical concerns with some Natural oil processing methods may include the use of drying agents, sometimes called “Japan Dryers.”  A century ago, the most common drying agent ingredient was lead. [2]  Other carcinogenic metals – including arsenic, beryllium, and cadmium -- have been used as linseed oil drying agents. 

The use of carcinogenic heavy metals as natural oil drying agents is in steep decline.  North American and European governments restrict the most problematic driers. Natural oil finishes now manufactured in these continents far more likely contain cobalt, calcium, and manganese than lead or cadmium. 

Still, the USGBC’s Green Home Guide recommends checking natural oil finish safety sheets “for carcinogens arsenic, beryllium, chromium, cadmium, and nickel, and probably carcinogen lead.” 

Diligence is particularly important for natural oil finishes sourced from Asia, where heavy metal paint driers remain in commerce. Manufacturers in India and Thailand adversite lead octoate and cadmium octoate drying agents.  “In outside paints and floor finishes as well as in banking enamels Lead Octoate is used with Manganese drier to produce a tough and hard film,” reads one site. [3] 

Some premium, small-batch natural oil penetrating finishes may be devoid of hazardous content, but most contain some materials of concern.  Finishes that do not directly contain these contents may require the use of hazardous solvents.<

Flooring finish formulations vary considerably.  This common ingredient record identifies the most frequent materials used in North American-made natural oil finishes.

[1] Drying agent mixtures can also contain solvents, including the red-flagged chemical, Stoddard solvent.
[2] A paint chemistry handbook from the year 1916 notes that “most of the Japan driers contain large quantities of lead.”   (The Chemistry and Technology of Paints, 1916, available at: http://www.archive.org/stream/chemistrytechnol00tochrich/chemistrytechnol00tochrich_djvu.txt )
[3] Pau Tai Industrial  (Thailand) Company Limited website, accessed March 19, 2012. See also, for example, these India-based manufaturers’ sites: http://www.arihantdyestuff.com/products3.htm#new2 and http://www.indiamart.com/notionalchemicals/stannous-octoate.html.

Direct Content Hazards:

CANCER EU - REACH Annex XVII CMRs - Carcinogen Category 2 - Substances which should be regarded as if they are Carcinogenic to man - from DISTILLATES (PETROLEUM), HYDROTREATED MIDDLE + 11
GENE MUTATION MAK - Germ Cell Mutagen 3a - from COBALT COMPOUNDS
RESPIRATORY MAK - Sensitizing Substance Sah - Danger of airway & skin sensitization - from COBALT COMPOUNDS + 2
EYE IRRITATION EU - GHS (H-Statements) - H318 - Causes serious eye damage - from 1,2-BENZISOTHIAZOLIN-3-ONE (BIT) + 5
SKIN SENSITIZE MAK - Sensitizing Substance Sh - Danger of skin sensitization - from 1,2-BENZISOTHIAZOLIN-3-ONE (BIT) + 6
ORGAN TOXICANT Japan - GHS - Specific target organs/systemic toxicity following repeated exposure - Category 1 - from METHYL ETHYL KETOXIME + 4
ACUTE AQUATIC EU - GHS (H-Statements) - H400 - Very toxic to aquatic life - from 1,2-BENZISOTHIAZOLIN-3-ONE (BIT) + 4
TERRESTRIAL New Zealand - GHS - 9.2A - Very ecotoxic in the soil environment - from METHYL ETHYL KETOXIME + 2
MAMMALIAN EU - R-phrases - R21 - Harmful in Contact with Skin - from METHYL ETHYL KETOXIME + 13
SKIN IRRITATION EU - R-phrases - R38 - Irritating to skin - from 1,2-BENZISOTHIAZOLIN-3-ONE (BIT) + 5
CHRON AQUATIC New Zealand - GHS - 9.1B (crustacean) - Very ecotoxic in the aquatic environment - from 1,2-BENZISOTHIAZOLIN-3-ONE (BIT) + 3
FLAMMABLE New Zealand - GHS - 3.1C - Flammable Liquids: medium hazard - from METHYL ETHYL KETOXIME + 1
RESTRICTED LIST US EPA - DfE SCIL - Yellow Triangle - best available in class but some hazard profile issues - from 1,2-BENZISOTHIAZOLIN-3-ONE (BIT) + 9
MULTIPLE Québec CSST - WHMIS 1988 - Class D2B - Toxic material causing other toxic effects - from 1,2-BENZISOTHIAZOLIN-3-ONE (BIT) + 6
BIOACCUMULATIVE EC - CEPA DSL - Bioaccumulative - from DISTILLATES (PETROLEUM), HYDROTREATED MIDDLE + 2
PERSISTENT EC - CEPA DSL - Persistent - from Cobalt Octoate + 1
POSITIVE LIST US EPA - DfE SCIL - Green Half-Circle - Expected Low Concern - from LINSEED OIL + 2

Potential Residual Hazards:

See Process Chemistry Research tab for details on residuals and other substances used in manufacture.

CANCER EU - REACH Annex XVII CMRs - Carcinogen Category 2 - Substances which should be regarded as if they are Carcinogenic to man - from DISTILLATES (PETROLEUM), C6-RICH + 12
GENE MUTATION EU - R-phrases - R46 - May cause heritable genetic damage - from DISTILLATES (PETROLEUM), C6-RICH + 5
DEVELOPMENTAL EU - R-phrases - R63 - Possible risk of harm to the unborn child - from 2-Ethylhexanoic acid + 5
REPRODUCTIVE EU - R-phrases - R62 - Possible risk of impaired fertility - from N-HEXANE + 7
ENDOCRINE ChemSec - SIN List - Endocrine Disruption - from N-HEXANE + 1
RESPIRATORY MAK - Sensitizing Substance Sah - Danger of airway & skin sensitization - from COBALT + 11
SKIN IRRITATION EU - GHS (H-Statements) - H314 - Causes severe skin burns and eye damage - from Octanoic acid + 10
FLAMMABLE EU - GHS (H-Statements) - H225 - Highly flammable liquid and vapour - from N-HEXANE + 16
REACTIVE EU - GHS (H-Statements) - H260 - In contact with water releases flammable gases which may ignite spontaneously - from ZIRCONIUM + 4
NEUROTOXICITY EU - GHS (H-Statements) - H336 - May cause drowsiness or dizziness - from N-HEXANE + 6
MAMMALIAN EU - R-phrases - R20 - Harmful by Inhalation (gas or vapor or dust/mist) - from N-HEXANE + 13
EYE IRRITATION EU - GHS (H-Statements) - H319 - Causes serious eye irritation - from BUTOXYPROPANOL + 7
SKIN SENSITIZE EU - R-phrases - R43 - May cause sensitization by skin contact - from COBALT + 5
ORGAN TOXICANT EU - GHS (H-Statements) - H373 - May cause damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure - from N-HEXANE + 11
ACUTE AQUATIC EU - R-phrases - R51 - Toxic to Aquatic Organisms - from N-HEXANE + 4
CHRON AQUATIC EU - GHS (H-Statements) - H411 - Toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects - from N-HEXANE + 13
TERRESTRIAL New Zealand - GHS - 9.2C - Harmful in the soil environment - from 2-Ethylhexanoic acid + 1
MULTIPLE Québec CSST - WHMIS 1988 - Class D2A - Very toxic material causing other toxic effects - from COBALT + 8
RESTRICTED LIST US EPA - Hazardous Air Pollutants - Hazardous Air Pollutant subject to the Clean Air Act - from COBALT COMPOUNDS + 10
BIOACCUMULATIVE US EPA - PPT Chemical Action Plans - High bioaccumulation potential - TSCA Criteria met - from COBALT COMPOUNDS + 1
PERSISTENT EC - CEPA DSL - Persistent - from COBALT + 1
POSITIVE LIST German FEA - Substances Hazardous to Waters - Non-Hazardous to Water (Water Hazard Class 0 NWG) - from Manganese + 1

Common Contents:

Material % Wt. Part % Wt. Whole Hazard GreenScreen Renewable
Substance Residual Manufacturing
[8001-26-1] LINSEED OIL
(Optional - Default)
25.00 - 50.00 % 25.00 - 50.00 %     NoGS
[64742-46-7] DISTILLATES (PETROLEUM), HYDROTREATED MIDDLE
(Optional - Default)
20.00 - 37.00 % 20.00 - 37.00 %       LT-1
[8001-20-5] Tung oil
(Optional - Default)
5.00 - 15.00 % 5.00 - 15.00 %   LT-UNK
[8001-22-7] SOYBEAN OIL
(Optional - Default)
1.00 - 10.00 % 1.00 - 10.00 %       NoGS
[9007-13-0] Colophonium resin
(Optional - Default)
1.00 - 10.00 % 1.00 - 10.00 %     LT-P1
[8015-86-9] CARNAUBA WAX
(Optional - Default)
1.00 - 7.00 % 1.00 - 7.00 %   NoGS
[89958-21-4] Hemp Oil
(Optional - Default)
0.10 - 3.00 % 0.10 - 3.00 %   NoGS
[2634-33-5] 1,2-BENZISOTHIAZOLIN-3-ONE (BIT)
(Optional - Default)
0.10 - 1.00 % 0.10 - 1.00 %   LT-P1
[96-29-7] METHYL ETHYL KETOXIME
(Optional - Default)
0.10 - 1.00 % 0.10 - 1.00 %     LT-1
[136-52-7] Cobalt Octoate
(Optional - Default)
0.10 - 1.00 % 0.10 - 1.00 %       LT-1
[5206-47-3] Zirconium octoate
(Optional - Default)
0.10 - 1.00 % 0.10 - 1.00 %     NoGS
[13434-24-7] Manganese bis(2-ethylhexanoate)
(Optional - Default)
0.10 - 1.00 % 0.10 - 1.00 %       LT-UNK

Possible Contents:

Material % Wt. Part % Wt. Whole Hazard GreenScreen Renewable
Substance Residual Manufacturing
[67746-08-1] Polymerized Linseed Oil 25.00 - 50.00 % 25.00 - 50.00 % NoGS

Process Chemistry - Known or Potential Residuals:

Material Hazard Type Frequency % Wt. Part % Wt. Whole Notes
Substance Residual Manufacturing
[149-57-5] 2-Ethylhexanoic acid - from Cobalt Octoate     Component Integral Unknown Unknown
[149-57-5] 2-Ethylhexanoic acid - from Manganese bis(2-ethylhexanoate)     Component Integral Unknown Unknown
[1560-96-9] 2-methyltridecane - from DISTILLATES (PETROLEUM), HYDROTREATED MIDDLE Component Integral (known) Unknown Unknown
[70955-17-8] AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS, C12-20 - from DISTILLATES (PETROLEUM), HYDROTREATED MIDDLE   Component Integral (known) 0.50 - 3.50 % Unknown
[7440-48-4] COBALT - from Cobalt Octoate       Component Integral Unknown Unknown
[5131-66-8] BUTOXYPROPANOL   Process Aid Frequent Unknown Unknown
[15821-83-7] 1-propanol-2-butoxy Component Integral (known) 95.00 % Unknown
[544-76-3] HEXADECANE - from DISTILLATES (PETROLEUM), HYDROTREATED MIDDLE   Component Integral (known) Unknown Unknown
[7439-96-5] Manganese - from Manganese bis(2-ethylhexanoate)     Component Integral Unknown Unknown
[110-54-3] N-HEXANE - from SOYBEAN OIL       Process Aid Integral 45.00 - 70.00 % Unknown
[93165-19-6] DISTILLATES (PETROLEUM), C6-RICH   Component Frequent Unknown Unknown
[629-59-4] N-TETRADECANE - from DISTILLATES (PETROLEUM), HYDROTREATED MIDDLE   Component Integral 0.50 - 3.50 % Unknown
[629-50-5] N-TRIDECANE - from DISTILLATES (PETROLEUM), HYDROTREATED MIDDLE     Component Integral (known) 0.50 - 3.50 % Unknown
[2883-02-5] nonylcyclohexane - from DISTILLATES (PETROLEUM), HYDROTREATED MIDDLE Component Integral (known) Unknown Unknown
[124-07-2] Octanoic acid - from Cobalt Octoate     Component Integral Unknown Unknown
[7440-67-7] ZIRCONIUM - from Zirconium octoate   Component Integral Unknown Unknown

Process Chemistry - Other:

Material Hazard Type Frequency % Wt. Part % Wt. Whole Notes
Substance Residual Manufacturing
[1305-62-0] CALCIUM HYDROXIDE - from Colophonium resin     Reactant Integral Unknown Unknown
Flax - from Polymerized Linseed Oil Reactant Integral Unknown Unknown
[8050-09-7] GUM ROSIN - from Colophonium resin   Reactant Integral Unknown Unknown
[7803-49-8] HYDROXYLAMINE - from METHYL ETHYL KETOXIME   Reactant Frequent Unknown Unknown
[78-93-3] METHYL ETHYL KETONE - from METHYL ETHYL KETOXIME     Reactant Integral Unknown Unknown
[110-54-3] N-HEXANE - from LINSEED OIL       Reactant Integral Unknown Unknown

No VOC content data provided

GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals Full Assessment: None available

Highest concern GreenScreen score : LT-1 (Likely Benchmark 1)

Cradle to Cradle Certified™ List Hazards

What are C2C hazards and what do these colors mean?

How to Use These Scores in a C2C Assessment

Acute and Chronic Tox. Acute Aquatic Tox. Chronic Aquatic Tox.
C M R+D E O D I O/D/I N IrS+IrE SnS+SnR Fish Inv. Alg. Any Fish Inv. Alg. Any T P B Climate Organohalogen Toxic Metal Other Mult
R R - - R/Y R/Y ? R - R R - - ? R ? ? ? ? ? R/Y R G NL R ? R

Full Hazard List By Endpoint:

Carcinogenicity MAK - Carcinogen Group 2 - Considered to be carcinogenic for man: Red
Australia - GHS - H350 - May cause cancer: Red
EU - Annex VI CMRs - Carcinogen Category 1B - Presumed Carcinogen based on animal evidence: Red
EU - GHS (H-Statements) - H350 - May cause cancer: Red
EU - R-phrases - R45 - May cause cancer: Red
EU - REACH Annex XVII CMRs - Carcinogen Category 2 - Substances which should be regarded as if they are Carcinogenic to man: Red
Australia - GHS - H351 - Suspected of causing cancer: Red
EU - Annex VI CMRs - Carcinogen Category 2 - Suspected human Carcinogen: Red
EU - GHS (H-Statements) - H351 - Suspected of causing cancer: Red
EU - R-phrases - R40 - Limited Evidence of Carcinogenic Effects: Red
Japan - GHS - Carcinogenicity - Category 2: Red
New Zealand - GHS - 6.7B - Suspected human carcinogens: Not rated
Mutagenicity MAK - Germ Cell Mutagen 3a: Red
Reproductive Toxicity (Repro + Dev) not listed
Endocrine Disruption not listed
Oral Toxicity Australia - GHS - H302 - Harmful if swallowed: Red or Yellow
EU - GHS (H-Statements) - H302 - Harmful if swallowed: Red or Yellow
EU - R-phrases - R22 - Harmful if Swallowed: Red or Yellow
Japan - GHS - Acute toxicity (oral) - Category 4: Yellow
New Zealand - GHS - 6.1D (oral) - Acutely toxic: Not rated
New Zealand - GHS - 6.9B (oral) - Harmful to human target organs or systems (Cat. 2): Not rated
Dermal Toxicity Japan - GHS - Acute toxicity (dermal) - Category 3: Red
Australia - GHS - H312 - Harmful in contact with skin: Red or Yellow
EU - GHS (H-Statements) - H312 - Harmful in contact with skin: Red or Yellow
EU - R-phrases - R21 - Harmful in Contact with Skin: Red or Yellow
New Zealand - GHS - 6.1D (dermal) - Acutely toxic: Not rated
Inhalative Toxicity US EPA - PPT Chemical Action Plans - Acute toxicity from inhalation exposures - TSCA Criteria met: Not rated
US EPA - PPT Chemical Action Plans - Chronic toxicity from inhalation exposures - TSCA Criteria met: Not rated
New Zealand - GHS - 6.1D (inhalation) - Acutely toxic: Not rated
New Zealand - GHS - 6.9B (inhalation) - Harmful to human target organs or systems (Cat. 2): Not rated
Oral, Dermal, and/or Inhalative Toxicity Japan - GHS - Specific target organs/systemic toxicity following single exposure - Category 2-3: Green
US EPA - PPT Chemical Action Plans - Chronic cardiovascular, renal and musculoskeletal effects - TSCA Criteria met: Not rated
Japan - GHS - Specific target organs/systemic toxicity following repeated exposure - Category 1: Red
Neurotoxicity not listed
Skin, Eye, and Respiratory Corrosion/Irritation Australia - GHS - H318 - Causes serious eye damage: Red
EU - GHS (H-Statements) - H318 - Causes serious eye damage: Red
EU - R-phrases - R41 - Risk of serious damage to eyes: Red
Japan - GHS - Serious eye damage / eye irritation - Category 1: Red
Australia - GHS - H315 - Causes skin irritation: Yellow
EU - GHS (H-Statements) - H315 - Causes skin irritation: Yellow
EU - R-phrases - R38 - Irritating to skin: Yellow
Japan - GHS - Skin corrosion / irritation - Category 2: Yellow
New Zealand - GHS - 6.3A - Irritating to the skin (Cat. 2): Not rated
New Zealand - GHS - 8.3A - Corrosive to ocular tissue (Cat. 1): Not rated
New Zealand - GHS - 6.3B - Mildly irritating to the skin: Not rated
New Zealand - GHS - 6.4A - Irritating to the eye (Cat. 2A): Not rated
Skin and Respiratory Sensitization Australia - GHS - H317 - May cause an allergic skin reaction: Red
EU - GHS (H-Statements) - H317 - May cause an allergic skin reaction: Red
EU - R-phrases - R43 - May cause sensitization by skin contact: Red
Japan - GHS - Skin sensitization - Category 1A: Red
MAK - Sensitizing Substance Sh - Danger of skin sensitization: Red
New Zealand - GHS - 6.5B (contact) - Contact sensitisers (Cat. 1): Not rated
Quebec CSST - Asthma Agents - Agent Causing Occupational Asthma: Not rated
AOEC - Asthmagens - Asthmagen (G) - generally accepted: Red, Yellow, or Green
Japan - GHS - Skin sensitizer - Category 1: Red
Acute Aquatic Toxicity (Fish) not listed
Acute Aquatic Toxicity (Invertibrates) not listed
Acute Aquatic Toxicity (Algae) New Zealand - GHS - 9.1A (algal) - Very ecotoxic in the aquatic environment: Not rated
Acute Aquatic Toxicity (Fish, Invertibrates, and/or Algae) Australia - GHS - H400 - Very toxic to aquatic life: Red
EU - GHS (H-Statements) - H400 - Very toxic to aquatic life: Red
EU - R-phrases - R50 - Very Toxic to Aquatic Organisms: Red
Japan - GHS - Hazardous to the aquatic environment (acute) - Category 1: Red
German FEA - Substances Hazardous to Waters - Non-Hazardous to Water (Water Hazard Class 0 NWG): Not rated
Chronic Aquatic Toxicity (Fish) New Zealand - GHS - 9.1B (fish) - Very ecotoxic in the aquatic environment: Not rated
Chronic Aquatic Toxicity (Invertibrates) New Zealand - GHS - 9.1B (crustacean) - Very ecotoxic in the aquatic environment: Not rated
Chronic Aquatic Toxicity (Algae) New Zealand - GHS - 9.1C (algal) - Harmful in the aquatic environment: Not rated
Chronic Aquatic Toxicity (Fish, Invertibrates, and/or Algae) Japan - GHS - Hazardous to the aquatic environment (chronic) - Category 1: Not rated
Terrestrial New Zealand - GHS - 9.3C - Harmful to terrestrial vertebrates: Not rated
New Zealand - GHS - 9.2A - Very ecotoxic in the soil environment: Not rated
New Zealand - GHS - 9.3B - Ecotoxic to terrestrial vertebrates: Not rated
Persistence EC - CEPA DSL - Persistent: Red or Yellow
US EPA - PPT Chemical Action Plans - High environmental persistence - TSCA Criteria met: Not rated
Bioaccumulation US EPA - PPT Chemical Action Plans - High bioaccumulation potential - TSCA Criteria met: Not rated
US EPA - PPT Chemical Action Plans - Moderate bioaccumulation potential - TSCA Criteria met: Not rated
EC - CEPA DSL - Bioaccumulative: Red
Climatic Relevance not listed
Organohalogen not listed - This chemical is not on the Pharos list of organohalogens, but we may have missed a few. Please double-check the chemical structure to confirm there are no carbon-halogen bonds.
Toxic Metal COBALT COMPOUNDS
Other (Human Health) New Zealand - GHS - 4.1.1B - Readily combustible solids and solids that may cause fire through friction: low hazard: Not rated
New Zealand - GHS - 3.1C - Flammable Liquids: medium hazard: Not rated
Multiple Endpoints EC - CEPA DSL - Inherently Toxic in the Environment: Red
German FEA - Substances Hazardous to Waters - Class 2 - Hazard to Waters: Red
Québec CSST - WHMIS 1988 - Class D2B - Toxic material causing other toxic effects: Red
MAK - Sensitizing Substance Sah - Danger of airway & skin sensitization: Red
EC - CEPA DSL - Inherently Toxic to Humans (iT human): Red
German FEA - Substances Hazardous to Waters - Class 1 - Low Hazard to Waters: Red
ChemSec - SIN List - CMR - Carcinogen, Mutagen &/or Reproductive Toxicant: Red
EC - CEPA Toxic Substances (Sched 1) - CEPA Toxic: Red
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