Food safe finish

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Forum topic by Alundrell posted 03-22-2013 05:45 AM 2063 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 1922 days

03-22-2013 05:45 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing turning lathe sanding

I’m fairly new to wood turning, I’ve been turning goblets and have given a few as gifts I’ve used a clear brush lacquer to finish them I told the people I’ve given then to that they are purely decorative. I’m actually going to be selling some of my goblets in a craft fair coming up and was wondering what kind of finish I can use that is safe for people to use, wont leech into the drink, and looks nice too. I know mineral oil is safe but I’m not sure how to get a nice shine on the wood with it and I’m not sure if it will leech into the beverage. I know that hot liquids are a no no, but as far as water and wine what would be a good finish to use, and the best way to apply said finish?

22 replies so far

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 1914 days

#1 posted 03-22-2013 04:13 PM

I don’t think there is such a thing as a food-safe, long-lasting clear coat finish for wood. Food-safe is a non-scientific, thrown-around term used by the main stream food media. I’ve heard mineral oil is food-safe but IMO that is more wrong than right for many reasons I won’t go into here. For the very-concerned-about-their-health-on-a-daily-basis-folks, food-safe would mean that if you ingested the substance it would not cause you to have ANY short-term or long-term physical afflictions spanning sensitivity/allergy reactions and side effects all the way to poisoning. Vegetable oils would qualify as food-safe but go rancid or wash off over time, so that won’t work because who want to keep washing, oiling, wiping off, drying and drinking out of their oiled goblet only to do it all over again every day or week? I certainly wouldn’t drink or let my kids drink out of any poly’d or lacquered or shellaced or alkyd or acrylic-based clearcoated container.

Unless you could high-temperature cure a glaze over your goblet like porcelain then you’d be in business. Funny how they never tell you what the glaze is actually made up of – someone with that knowledge can expound I’m sure.

Someone out there must have a solution to the wood goblet food-safe finishing question . .

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View Tim's profile


3812 posts in 1983 days

#2 posted 03-22-2013 04:50 PM

I’ve been looking into food safe finishes. Traditional heat treated linseed oil is an option. Make sure not to get the stuff from your hardware or home store that says boiled linseed oil because that is now made with hydrocarbons and metallic catalysts. But here's a link to a food safe version with the Danish oil there being the pure linseed oil one, and the first one being linseed/beeswax. Carnauba wax is another option, I just don’t know how to apply it without a toxic solvent. Maybe a heat gun or something to that effect. Woodcraft and other suppliers sell it in flake form in various grades. You can use beeswax or other wax too, they’re just not as hard and won’t last as long.

Neither will be 100% long lasting or food safe for everyone, but are pretty high up on the food safe list, at least as safe as the plastic containers everyone eats and drinks out of. I think any food safe wood finish short of a plastic liner will need to be redone every so often.

I’m looking forward to other ideas too.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3180 days

#3 posted 03-22-2013 04:55 PM

Everything is food safe once it’s cured, IMO.

Don’t use mineral oil, since it will leech into the contents of the container.

-- jay,

View TerryDowning's profile


1077 posts in 2139 days

#4 posted 03-22-2013 05:13 PM

I’ve heard the same as Jay.
A decent no-nonsense fact based read

-- - Terry

View CharlesNeil's profile


2410 posts in 3892 days

#5 posted 03-22-2013 05:25 PM

CosmicSniper has it correct.

View shampeon's profile


1775 posts in 2205 days

#6 posted 03-22-2013 05:29 PM

From Terry’s link:
“Shellac, like honey, another material made by bugs, is edible. You all eat it on vitamins, candy, and time release medicines, and sometimes also on fruit. Edible is a lot more definitive than food safe. Ditto for raw (but not boiled) flaxseed oil (also called linseed oil), and mineral oil, which is the only one of the three that will not dry (it stays liquid forever).”

I wouldn’t use shellac in a wine goblet, as the alcohol will dissolve the shellac.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View TerryDowning's profile


1077 posts in 2139 days

#7 posted 03-22-2013 05:40 PM

I wasn’t recommending anything in particular, just putting in my 2 cents re: the “food safe finish argument”

Alcohol in general is a decent solvent so care must be taken selecting the finish. Figure out which finishes won’t melt or degrade in ethyl alcohol.

-- - Terry

View Alundrell's profile


10 posts in 1922 days

#8 posted 03-22-2013 05:48 PM

Wow I did not know that about shellac, that is really interesting, I will have to look into that further

View RogerInColorado's profile


321 posts in 1976 days

#9 posted 03-22-2013 05:56 PM

Terry’s link is a good read. I especially appreciate it’s clarity and common sense.

View Woodknack's profile (online now)


11759 posts in 2402 days

#10 posted 03-22-2013 05:59 PM

Guys who know more about finishing than me say that all film (e.g. shellac, lacquer, varnish, poly) finishes are food safe once they are fully cured. I admit to a bit of skepticism, perhaps unfounded.

-- Rick M,

View Alundrell's profile


10 posts in 1922 days

#11 posted 03-22-2013 06:15 PM

Damn terry that’s a great link thaks for that! Tank you to everyone for all te info I reall apreciate it. I assume the the full curing time for most finishes are 30 day to fully cure, what I have been using is Deft clear gloss lacquer, so in theory that should be fine as long as I wait a month to use it, would alchahol affect that finish, once cured or should I just stick to water in the goblets?

View shampeon's profile


1775 posts in 2205 days

#12 posted 03-22-2013 06:19 PM

Rick, I think part of the confusion is the term “food safe.” Does that mean foods can come into contact with the finish for short periods without absorbing anything? Does it mean that food can be in constant contact with the finish? Does it mean that you can consume small quantities of the finish with no real danger? Or can you safely ingest any quantity?

I have no doubt that most all the finishes sold today can be in short contact with food once fully cured, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable finishing a cutting board with certain finishes, if I wanted to do that for some reason.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View Tim's profile


3812 posts in 1983 days

#13 posted 03-22-2013 06:38 PM

I guess it all depends on your definition of food safe. The article above has the basic argument that there is no evidence it’s not safe so it is. Not so long ago it wasn’t known that lead was so toxic until the issue was studied carefully. A cured finish doesn’t cure 100%, the article mentions a certain amount of leeching of the toxic ingredients. But to each their own. I do agree the exposure is probably relatively low. I guess I’m one of those people that’s bothered by the increasing amount of chemicals we ingest and are exposed to.

View Alundrell's profile


10 posts in 1922 days

#14 posted 03-22-2013 06:39 PM

I agree with you compleatly Shampeon, I would not want to cut food on a bord finished with anything but mineral oil, flakes lo lacquer or polyeurothane in my food every day is not appetizing to me.

View Wildwood's profile


2322 posts in 2156 days

#15 posted 03-22-2013 07:08 PM

I do not buying into claim once a film forming finish has dried/cured it is food safe. Yes, the FDA has approved many toxic chemicals for contact with food. If your favorite finishing material has, a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) contains poisonous or hazardous chemicals.
Manufacturers do not always list all harmful chemicals in their products MSDS. In other parts of the world known as Safety data Sheet (SDS).

For any bowl I make used for food gets coating of mineral oil, people that get the bowls get a small bottle of mineral oil and instructions on reapplying as needed.

Do not use industrial grade MO or baby oil on anything that will come in contact with food.

If do not like mineral oil the laxitive, look at Walnut oil, make sure to get some for your customers too!

-- Bill

showing 1 through 15 of 22 replies

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