It occurred to me that any oil would surely do this, were there any special properties in clove oil that it keeps getting suggested? So I posed the question to an expert. Paul Robinson, Technical Advisor at Winsor & Newton said:
"Clove oil works well as a retarder but there is a note of caution: over time (a long time) it does actually darken as it dries. It starts off nice a light but can eventually turn black. This is over years and is dependent on the amount of direct light. I would be tempted to use a different oil as a retarder -- linseed or stand oil -- and if my tubes go solid I would revive these with solvent and oils."So if longevity of your oil paintings is something you consider, perhaps stick to using clove oil as a tooth ache remedy or mosquito repellent.
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The Oils Used in Oil Painting