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Mineral Oil and Beeswax finish

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Blog entry by maugust posted 02-06-2011 11:14 PM 13678 reads 12 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is my version of a mineral oil and beeswax “finish”.

I have experimented with different ratio’s of the two ingredients.

I have tried (measure in ounces by volume)

1 oz mineral oil : 1 oz beeswax
3 oz mineral oil : 2 oz beeswax
5 oz mineral oil : 1 oz beeswax

I found that I like 3:2 ratio the best.

I buy the beeswax in cake form. Shave it with a grater. Place the shavings in a bowl and then into a double boiler. The beeswax will melt VERY fast. Add the mineral oil and stir for a bit. The mixutre has to remain warm in order to keep it from solidifying. It will feel like a soft candle as it cools.

In order to apply the finish it should be warm, I have used a cotton cloth, a small brush, and/or my bare hands. If you use your hands, your skin will be very smooth when you are done!

I used a scrap piece of poplar to see how the mixture looked. I wrote in pencil the ratio and then applied it to see how it compared to the other ratios.

When I am done using this finish, I placed the liquid into a stainless steel dish with a plastic lid and let it harden. In hardened form, I have used it to lubricate the threads on screws before I drive them into a piece of wood.

A heat gun, double boiler or a hot plate will return the mixture to liquid form.

So far, I have used this mixture on the interior of a breadbox and on a bed for my daughter.

Below are some pictures of the process that I used.



12 comments so far

View Bill Davis's profile

Bill Davis

226 posts in 2575 days


#1 posted 02-07-2011 12:30 AM

Any thoughts on what are the positive advantages if this concoction as a wood finish. In other words what makes it worth going through all that. I’m interested in finishes but have never heard of this one.

View maugust's profile

maugust

17 posts in 2600 days


#2 posted 02-07-2011 03:22 AM

The main advantage, in my opinion, is it is food safe and child safe.

View kalapolo's profile

kalapolo

63 posts in 1340 days


#3 posted 02-07-2011 05:35 AM

Just wondering where you got your beeswax? I’ve seen it online, but found a block recently at our local Hobby Lobby and picked it up. Just curious if there were any distinguishable qualities based on where the beeswax is purchased…

View Bill Davis's profile

Bill Davis

226 posts in 2575 days


#4 posted 02-07-2011 05:53 AM

‘The safety of finishes for food or mouth contact is a non-issue, kept alive by certain woodworking magazines and implied by some manufacturers who label their wiping varnishes “Salad-Bowl Finish.” In fact, all clear finishes are safe for contact with food or someone’s mouth once the finish is fully cured.’

Understanding Wood Finishing p186, Bob Flexner

View grittyroots's profile

grittyroots

51 posts in 1341 days


#5 posted 02-07-2011 07:08 AM

i have bought bees wax at our local food coop or natural food stores

-- Gritty Roots i can build anything as long as i have 2 things the internet and my father-in-law

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 2536 days


#6 posted 02-07-2011 06:38 PM

FWIW – I’ve made a similar concoction and not having a double boiler I used a microwave, it worked great. CAUTION when heating use short (a few seconds) bursts of microwave time.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View IkeandBerry's profile

IkeandBerry

45 posts in 1915 days


#7 posted 02-07-2011 08:34 PM

I made up the exact same mixture for finishing the end grain cutting boards I made at Christmas. I agree that is is food safe and smells awesome when applied and even after. I get my raw beeswax from a local bee farmer who sells it in 5lb chunks for $12. I also use straight beeswax for finishing turning projects like mallets and such. I simply hold a chunk to the spinning piece and then use a piece of burlap to burnish it. I know that may finishes say they are food safe when fully cured but when they chip and or flake those flakes are not food safe especially if they are petroleum based. That is way I either use shellac of beeswax and mineral oil on any project I have that will have substantial risk of chipping of the finish like cutting boards. Plus I do not like the smell of the solvents in most premixed finishes.

-- There is nothing like the sound of a hand plane passing across a board in an otherwise quiet shop.

View maugust's profile

maugust

17 posts in 2600 days


#8 posted 02-08-2011 01:59 AM

Bill

Yes I have read several articles about that same topic. It does not take that much time to make this finish, it is at a fraction of the cost of commercial products and I do not need a well ventilated area to use it.

View Bill Davis's profile

Bill Davis

226 posts in 2575 days


#9 posted 02-08-2011 02:11 AM

I brought it up because you said “The main advantage, in my opinion, is it is food safe and child safe” which, though that may be true, promotes the idea that most others are not safe.

I do like experimenting with finishes as well so found your introduction of this new one to me good and perhaps one to try.

View Maximillian's profile

Maximillian

80 posts in 1932 days


#10 posted 02-18-2011 09:05 PM

Hi from the other side of the world. Just so I understand, what is “mineral oil”; is it linseed oil?
I have used a mix of 1/3rd beeswax, 1/3 turpentine, 1/3rd linseed oil on my hardwood workbench. It remained tacky for a very long time and there was a buildup of wax, which I ended up scraping off. I think next time I will use less wax in the brew and more turpentine to aid penetration.
Do you guys have any views on the merits of using turpentine? Is it food safe?
Thanks
Max

-- Max, New Zealand

View Bill Davis's profile

Bill Davis

226 posts in 2575 days


#11 posted 02-19-2011 07:11 AM

Mineral oil is not the same as linseed oil.

Mineral oil is a product of petroleum. It is called a petroleum distillate resulting when the petroleum is heated until gasses form. At lower temperatures the products of this process are naptha, mineral spirits, kerosene, benzene, tolulene and xylene and they form the basis of solvents and thinners. At higher temperatures distillation yields mineral oil and at even higher temperatures paraffin wax. Mineral oil does not evaporate it is oil.

Linseed oil is extracted from seeds of the flax plant. In its raw state it takes weeks to dry and is therefore a pretty inefficient finish. Metallic driers are added to the raw oil which act as catalysts to speed the finishes speed of curing. With dryers added it is called boiled linseed oil and cures in about a day. Linseed is also rated as one of the least protective because it is soft and thin. Water and water vapor penetrate it quite easily.

View Aaron McCain's profile

Aaron McCain

115 posts in 1490 days


#12 posted 12-14-2012 05:00 PM

I have wanted to try something with beeswax for a bit now and picked some up at the local market. Last night I made the 3:2 ratio and really like the feel of the finished piece. (It was a whistle made out of a dowel) Now that it is cool and solid I just have a follow up question. When you reheat it do you just make it soft or do you turn it completely liquid again?

Thanks for sharing.

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