Reply by Purrmaster

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Posted on Food Safe Hardwoods

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915 posts in 2122 days

#1 posted 01-28-2013 09:32 PM

You are correct about Flexner. He says (and his arguments are convincing) that all finishes are safe for food once fully cured.

But I don’t necessarily agree with him about cutting boards. When you are chopping things on a cutting board you are going to be chopping off bits of the finish as well. So I would think you’d be ingesting the finish as well.

However, once a finish is totally dried and cured there isn’t much actual matter on the wood, even on a film finish. So even if you do end up gobbling up some lacquer the amounts may be so miniscule as to be harmless.

With that being said, I’d be fine with using just about any finish on something like a salad bowl or a tray. But on something where sharp knives are going to be used all the time I’m going to stick with mineral oil and wax. Your mileage may vary.

You’re quite correct about woods from nut trees. I had totally forgotten that. For what it’s worth I’m allergic to all tree nuts and have fiddled around with walnut wood and have encountered no problems. Same with tung oil (which is oil from a nut), no problem here. Yes, it was 100% tung oil, not a “tung oil finish.”

I’ve also heard the same thing about oak and it makes sense to me. The large pores could be places for nastiness to get trapped. I’ve read maple is ideal for cutting boards and I’m making an end grain maple cutting board now.

Lead was banned in the 70s so you only have to worry about it with very old coatings.

As trivia, according to Wikipedia the actual tung nut from the tung tree is quite toxic. If you eat a few tung nuts you’re probably going to die. I can’t speak for the oil itself. I haven’t drunk any tung oil down to find out. I haven’t read anywhere that tung oil is toxic, even to ingest. Not that I would recommend taking a few swigs of tung oil.

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