Food safe finishes

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Forum topic by TimF posted 01-21-2012 08:58 PM 2152 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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31 posts in 3270 days

01-21-2012 08:58 PM

Hello all. I’ve gotten some very information here in the past. Now I have another question. What is a good food safe, water proof finish for wood? Thanks in advance Tim.

5 replies so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3103 days

#1 posted 01-21-2012 09:25 PM

There are at least 2 products made explicitly for this purpose. One is called salad oil and the other is called Watco butcher block oil and finish. I’m sure there are more – just don’t know what they are. I’ve used both and I have also used plain old mineral oil from the drug store.

In performance, I don’t see much difference between the salad oil and the mineral oil. Of the 2, I prefer mineral oil because it is cheaper and readily available. Further, if I give the item away as a gift, I tell the recipient to re-oil it when it starts to look a little dull or dry. It’s easy for the recipient to pick up a bottle at the drug store. I may be harder for them to locate salad oil that is only sold ini woodworking supply places.

I like the Watco product for really porous wood like red oak. The Watco product is more of a sealer. Porous woods offer bacteria places to hide and the Watco product, effectively, fills up those porous holes. However, I find it hard to get a smooth, even finish with the Watco product. It seems like you are always leaving streaks and/or an uneven finish. I recently used the Watco product on a red oak tortilla press and I was not happy with the look in the end. I kept sanding and applying another coat and it never got any better.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4950 posts in 3989 days

#2 posted 01-21-2012 09:41 PM

Most all finishes are food safe if allowed to COMPLETLY DRY. You did not state what object(s) you want in contact with food. Countertops, cutting boards, bowls, spoons, etc.
More info will garner better responses.


View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3203 days

#3 posted 01-21-2012 09:42 PM

View bobsmyuncle's profile


110 posts in 2720 days

#4 posted 01-22-2012 06:15 AM

Bob Flexner wrote an article on “The Folly of Food-Safe Finishes”in PopWood and reprinted in his “Flexner on Finishing.” He concluded the same as Bill White stated above.

At one point in time, the MSDS for a company’s Salad Bowl Finish was shared with their wipe on varnish. Same product, different label, different prices.

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5913 posts in 3223 days

#5 posted 01-22-2012 08:55 AM

Just a bottle of mineral oil from the drug store or supermarket will do….Being that it’s food safe for human consumption, if you ever get “backed up, or “packed up”, a 1/2 a glass of mineral oil, and orange juice will take care of that problem, too…..:)

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....

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