I recently bought a bottle of "Terra Nova NaturOil." It is recommended for salad bowls, cutting boards and butcher blocks, is FDA approved, contains no peanut oil and even claims to be kosher! So, perfect for food grade woodwork. It also gave the wood a fantastic, rich, deep, matte finish. However, the bottle says to re-apply every month so could have just used regular cooking oil and gotten the same result?
What do you think? What do you use to finish projects that will come in contact with food?
I differ little with Chad's view. I blend my own oils, and beeswax is a component. Many of the "reapply regularly" oils are mineral oil based. I have never gotten a straight answer what is the base oil in "Terra Nova" (which the samples I have tested seem like mineral oil) so have refused to recommend it.
Flax, orange oil, walnut and beeswax offers a very durable and safe finish for most applications. So to does just plain walnut oil. However, remember these are "true drying oils" and as such may not be the best for "wood ware" that sees table use of food prep. For these I still use "non-drying oils" such as olive or better coconut.
Rancidity is not an issue as they are replaced so often and rapidly worn off in cleaning. I will admit that even if let to set, the worst I have seen is a bit of "tackiness" that vanishes with warm water and use.
I agree compleatly jay, I'm just being realistic. And sometimes we don't get around to maintaining certain items. I personally think that the wood type is the variable in choosing a countertop, or chopping block. I would not recommend the sealer for a maple block as opposed to a walnut, ect
I use good olive oil on everything. When my husband finishes carving a spoon or bowl he uses a few coats of beeswax and oil and then after that we use just the oil. I tried walnut oil once and maybe used too much, but the spoons all became sticky, so I washed it back off with soapy warm water (I know, no soap on a wooden spoon, but sometimes I do it anyway if I think I need to)
I think it's safe to just look at it this way.... whatever you are putting on those spoons and bowls, cutting boards, etc that you use in relation to food...............should be edible. If I wouldn't eat/drink it right out of the bottle, I wouldn't use it on the wood.
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What Judith said........minus the soap on wood!!......
Seriously though, soap (or I should say the kind of soap) isn't that big a deal on wood if natural and mild in nature, plus well rinsed off, and the wood re-oiled...
I don't use soap on my wood contact surfaces (or my very old cast iron and knives) as it really doesn't clean them the way we "think" it does (more psychological than biological cleaning ) To do a great (and very fast) cleaning of these is either vinegar, and/or lemon juice. These really kill most of the "baddies" that may be there after processing meat or other potentially pathogenic materials. Just keep it in a spirits bottle and clean with warm water. If something is "icky stick or dried" then soften with warm water, rinse, spirits and rinse...then...re-oil the item just a bit.
Keeping your "treating oil" (like olive) around for this is fine, and it doesn't go rancid as quickly as so many claim it does. Plus as far as I have ever been able to tell, research or determine by culturing, rancid olive oil is harmless and can simply be washed off, just like most "nondrying oils." I would also make note that flax oil (aka linseed) walnut oil, and a number of others can all be purchased in a "food grade" form. Heritage Finishes which I use almost exclusively for my "oil needs" can provide food grade oils and often does anyway for all their product lines. Great folks and great products with a very long service and use history...
But...as Judith said...olive oil is great and works just fine...
I clean my cutting boards with warm water and salt or brine from saurkraut. If they are very dirty I use natural soap. If they look try I pour a little olive oil on them - just like I use bacon farmin my cast iron skillets. I do this very often - several times every month - and it does not feel like extra work. My son is allergic to tree nuts as well as ground nuts - I would not use any nut oils for that exact reason.
I prefer to use drying oils on my spoons. I'm a little grossed out at the thought of constantly eating rancid olive oil as it wares off. However, it seems totally plausible to me that if you are using a spoon/ bowl/ whatever often enough, the oil never sticks around long enough to get really rancid. So the main advantage of walnut or flax oil is that you never have to re-oil. The main disadvantage is that it takes a long time to cure. I wash my spoons in hot soapy water, though it's always by hand, never in the dishwasher. And I try not to leave them soaking in dish water overnight.
This is how I finish my spoons: warm the oil on the stove. I use a tall, narrow, "asparagus" pot in a larger pot filled with water to keep the oil from getting dangerously hot. Dunk the spoons in the oil for a few minutes. When you take them out, let the oil on the surface soak in if it's going to, then wipe off any excess. Now you wait. If there is excess oil on the surface, it will get sticky, and then eventually harden. Generally, I find it takes about 6 months for the oil to completely cure.
The reason I heat the oil is because it helps the oil penetrate the wood more quickly. You can also just soak in room temp oil for a couple days. But I find when I do that the wood absorbs too much oil, which then slowly weeps out as it is curing. That's not a problem if you are using the spoon while it cures, as you will just wash off the excess oil. But if you choose to wait, you'll have to check in on the spoon every so often to see if it needs to be washed. I also think periodic heating may help accelerate the polymerization process: fresh oil seems to take longer to cure than older stuff, though I haven't taken any notes on this.
I only do the hot soak, long wait process for tableware that's going to get a lot of hard use and regular washing. For fiber tools or something like a fruit bowl, I would just rub a few coat of oil on the surface and start using in a few days.
I use about a 50/50 mix of beeswax and walnut oil on my cutting board. Walnut oil is supposed to NOT go rancid.
I use the mixture with a clean and dry board and apply warm and let it soak. After a few minutes, it will absorb. I keep adding the mix until no more absorbs. Then I buff.
Reapply when the cutting board looks dry. After a month or 2.
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For table tops and such, shellec is lovely. It also doesn't need to be reapplied all the time. You can get shellac flakes and mix them with denatured alcohol, I think it is. French polish is a real easy way to apply it, too. It doesn't hold up well to alcohol, though.