What is the difference between Linseed and Flax?
There is no real difference between 'Linseed' and 'Flax', they are both common names for the plant with the latin name, Linum usitatissimum.
The plant, Linum usitatissimum, is usually found in the cooler, temperate areas of the globe and has been grown for ten's of thousands of years with a multitude of uses;
Most frequently known as Flax, the fibre is extracted from the stem of the plant. Flax fibre is relatively soft and has been used for the production of linen and lace. It is considerably stronger than cotton and coarser grades have appeared in the manufacture of ropes and canvas. Flax fibres have also appeared as a raw material ion the manufacture of specialist papers (ref Dillon), including Banknotes (ref. NBU) and even tea bags!
Most frequently known as Linseed Oil, the oil is crushed or pressed from the seed of the plant. Linsed oil is used for both industry and for food. In industry the oil has the special characteristic of drying to a polymer, making it useful in the treatment of wood as a varnish, wehere its most famous applcation is the treatment of cricket bats (ref. Viking Cricket). Other industrial uses include the manufacture of the floor covering, Linoleum, which exploits the drying properties of linseed oil. Made from natural raw materials, proper Linoleum (as opposed to the PVC based products that are often incorrectly called 'Lino') is probably one the worlds most sustainable hard wearing floor coverings.
Both the oil and the seeds of the plant are edible. The seeds are a source of Fibre and the oil contains a high level of Alpha Linoleic Acid (ALA), which is an Omega-3 fatty acid. To differentiate the edible product from the industrial version, linseed oil is usually called 'Flaxseed oil' when it is sold for food use; it appears in many healthfood stores as a high Omega-3 food supplement. Whole seeds often appear in the ingredients of cereal based snack bars and confectionery, where both the brown and yellow (or Golden) coloured seeds are used.
And, of course, whether you call it ground flaxseed or ground linseed it is available to use at home as Linette®