Wood Whistle

Wood Whistle

What is the best way to oil a wood whistle and how often should you do so?

Re: Wood Whistle

Please leave a comment about your experience.

Re: Wood Whistle

I was told almond oil was good for wooden flutes. Don’t oil the windway though. You should probably clean out moisture after playing but I never do.

Re: Wood Whistle

Oh, there have been so many website pages written including much controversy about the best oil to use on wood. Now, I have no experience with wood whistles but I do have an armload of wood flutes and IMO the best oil to use is cold-pressed linseed oil. I get mine from a local artist-supply store in small bottles in the section where artist painting supplies are sold, but that same oil might also be available at your local natural/organic food store as cold-pressed linseed oil is for some reason also considered to be a good food. Use plenty of it and let it soak into the wood. Wood loves that oil. And then simply wipe off and wipe out any excess oil.

Re: Wood Whistle



Boiled linseed oil is not 100% natural and includes drying agents which are BAD for wood.

Re: Wood Whistle

“cold-pressed linseed oil is for some reason also considered to be a good food.”
Yes, Adolf Hitler, who was a vegetarian, had all his food cooked in linseed oil (and look what it did to him). But I believe that in the health food stores it’s the same thing as flax oil. I do, by the way, use raw linseed oil on my wooden whistle with good results.

Re: Wood Whistle

“But I believe that in the health food stores it’s the same thing as flax oil.” - Gobby

Yes, I believe you are right, that cold-pressed linseed oil is the same thing as flax oil. There is some controversy, however, about human ingestion of flax oil. But that oil works perfectly well with wood. Wood loves it and that oil is my #1 go-to oil for wood flutes.

Re: Wood Whistle

The oiling of whistles/flutes is for the purpose of controlling moisture content in the wood.

The critical part of that is the bore - where moist breath and precipitation expose the wood to wild extremes of wet/dry.

Given that all types of wood have different characteristics, and that every specific bit of wood is different - it is really a case-by-case matter - hard to generalise.

But here are some rules-of-thumb that I’ve picked-up over the years:

The oil used should be;
low viscosity(thin),
low volatility(does not evaporate too quick),
non-solvent(does not dissolve or re-activate natural waxes and resins in the wood)
non-cumulative(does not leave a buildup over time)

Raw linseed/flax is generally OK for infrequent application. But it leaves a buildup.
Boiled linseed is not a good idea - it is designed to leave a heavy buildup (lacquer).
These buildups are not so critical in a flute, but are critical in a whistle - it changes the tuning.
It can also change the sound.
Whistles/flutes - A matter of scale.

After that, the easiest choices are almond oil and commercial bore-oil.
You can also put walnuts in a cloth, bash the cloth till it’s oily - and use the cloth on the bore (get the crumbs off first!). Unfortunately, walnut tends to “go off” and smell bad - you can add vit-E or sandalwood to prevent putrefaction.

After all that, it’s still a matter of risk-reduction, even after applying the general methods, the risk is case-by-case. Wood is a chaotic thing - some bits will be more prone to moisture damage than others.
So there will always be a chance that the treatment will fail - or that a whistle/flute will survive without treatment.

Oiling/swabbing simply shifts the “bell-curve” into less risk.
With all that, each player has to balance the amount of effort required - the circumstance of the player is just as chaotic as the bit of wood .. so it gets somewhat subjective.

This is only my experience - happy to hear the observations of others!

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