Food Safe Oil Finish !
I’ve just completed a baking workstation cabinet. The top is a butcher block, edge grain, soft maple surface. Work surface will see lots of cookie, and/or bread dough, kneaded and rolled.
My plan was to seal , top and bottom, with a water based sanding sealer, then finish top, and likely bottom as well, with an oil finish.
Not too long ago, a very experienced bowl turner, told me – “all finishes are food safe, if they are left to cure”.
When i make cutting boards i finish them with Walnut oil, and recommend folks that inherit them to maintain them with plan old mineral oil. Since the surface is rather large, 2.5’x5′, I didn’t want to use up a whole bottle of walnut oil, and fell that mineral oil may be a bit messy.
If i take the bowl turners comments to heart, what do folks think about using a coat, or 2 of Watco Danish oil? I’ve used Waterlox quite a bit as well, but don’t have enough on hand to do the surfaces. I do have plenty of Danish oil 🙂
I am likely about as safety conservative as they come. If it were me, the only oil I really eat is olive oil. As such, it's the only oil I would likely put on it. That way, in the most extreme case, I am kept safe. Likely way too conservative for most.
Mineral oil laxative from the drugstore. Olive oil will work, but will smell rancid from time to time usually in the summer or when the humidity is high.
It's commonly agreed upon that olive oil doesn't cure and can become rancid.
Check out the following link for lots of info on food-safe finishes. https://www.finewoodworking.com/2006/08/01/food-safe-finishes
Also, Amy Costello wrote a piece that really made me think about food-safe finishes: https://www.finewoodworking.com/2019/01/10/food-safe-finish-considerations
I'd never use Olive Oil, nor Vegetable oil. These will get rancid over time, and are no-no's for sure when it comes to cutting boards. The FWW article link indicates that ANY non-pigmented finish will be food safe if allowed to cure.
This supports the bowl turners comment in my original post. According to the Watco Danish Oil datasheet(attached), there are no pigments in their product.
I've since added a coat of water based sanding sealer to both sides. Surface appears sealed, and 'awesome smooth' after a like sanding. I'm thinking i'll go ahead and add Danish Oil to at least the bottom surface. It will never see food. I can then add the Walnut Oil to the top to be extra safe, since it may be less than 30days (sufficient cure time) before the surface gets use.
I "finish" cutting boards with parafin wax dissolved in mineral oil. Has to be refreshed from time to time so never really finished.
Take a look at the products offered by Tried & True.
If you choose to use, be sure to follow the manufactures application instructions
Thanks for the referral on the "Tried and True' product. Never seen these guys before, and their products seem to be applicable to this work surface, as well as a handful of other projects. Not cheap by any means, a bit more pricey than waterlox, but still might be an option. Do you know much about it's shelf life and/or how to insure a $38qt doesn't go to waste after it's first use ?
My research showed closer to $20/ qt at Woodcraft depending of which finish you select, $49/ gal.
I have been using to finish spoons and trays for about 5 years. Still using first qt without problems. May want to contact mfg to see if they have a shelf life recommendation
See FAQ number 16
FAQ number 16 on T&T website states no known shelf life
I like the wax idea, but I would use beeswax. You can melt it in a slow cooker, then pour over the butcher block. Let it soak in and scrape off excess when dry. Tried and true is another good option. I have some over a year old and it's still good.
I use beeswax with flaxseed oil or food grade mineral oil found in the pharmacy section. Just make a paste after melting the beeswax and work it in with a piece of cotton, usually one of Dad’s white tshirts. Don’t use 0000 steel wool as little pieces of the wool can break off into the wood. Olive oil will go rancid. Many people are allergic to nut oils. Beeswax is antibacterial as well as other useful anti’s...
Not finding the T&T, Original, for less than $30. I live in North Texas area and perhaps prices vary quite a bit. Rockler, witch is also local, has same product for $38 !
Anybody see issues with the sanding sealer as a base coat ? It rose the grain and i'd expect it will go a long way in preventing top/bottom temp changes/warping.
We make some wax finish that is a blend of carnuba wax, bees wax and mineral oil. Really nice stuff that we sell at farmers markets and our shop, we also use to finish all of our cutting and serving boards.
I second Tried and True. Make sure you follow recommended cure time. Beautiful, durable products that are easy to work with and look + feel great. It's expensive but you only need a tiny, tiny amount. I've used it on a bookcase, dining table, queen bed, and a dozen smaller projects (4-6 coats on each). I'm not even 1/5 of the way done with 1 qt can. Everything looks great. I use the oil varnish, which gives a little extra protection. Haven't needed to re-apply, but I love that I'll be able to just wipe a little on whenever I need, and it's food safe/non-toxic out of the can (especially for the dining table).
Re: using sanding sealer--I don't think I'd do this with T&T products. I may be wrong, but I think you want the oil to penetrate into the wood as much as possible so that it can bond and harden. A sealer would prevent this or at least greatly slow the process (which is already quite slow--24 hrs between coats).
I have been using walnut oil for a long time on spoons and similar items. It seems to harden to a better surface with a little sheen. Caution of course to anyone with nut allergy issues. Wax works well after the oil has seasoned.
If I am not mistaken, shellac is used in candy manufacturing for that shiny surface you see on some candies. Since it it thinned out with alcohol, once the alcohol has evaporated the only thing left is the secretions of the lac bug.
Quick update. I went with the Tried and True. Like trying out new products, or at least those I've never used before. I was a bit surprised by the consistency, and i must admit the first coat across a 2.5'x5' surface was a bit of a workout. Waiting, as we speak, for the 1 hr wait time before rub out. A second workout i'm sure.
BTW, GW52, Shellac is indeed a food safe product, at least in it's raw form. It is used on most all fruits, and drug tablets! It however isn't a penetrating finish like oils.
This forum post is now archived. Commenting has been disabled