This modern age has paved the way for wood finishes to progress in delivering convenience to homes and commercial establishments. Nowadays, most of these finishes have evolved in a way that they stay safe even if they get contact with foods. They are generally known as the food safe wood finish made non-toxic for children and adults.
Unless you encounter the term “food-safe wood finishes” or you need it, you will most probably skip on learn more and delve deeper into important facts associated with it. But let us take a look at the essential details we should know before we make our own wood finish project or shop around for this item.
How to Choose Food-Safe Wood Finish
Dirt, dust, bacteria and toxic chemicals exist wherever we go. In fact, they can be found in all living and non-living things on earth. With that said, brilliant minds were able to come up with food safe wood finishes to reduce the chances of making these contaminants harm our bodies.
While exploring the web, I came across some interesting ideas on how to deal with wooden objects using food-safe finishes. But before we proceed, let me tell you that there are specific project types that food safe finishes on wooden objects work best.
First, you can use them on children’s toys made of woods. Second, they work well on eat-on surfaces. Examples of these areas are tables, counters and bar tops. Third, they are also used in surfaces where we prepare raw meat. Some examples are butcher blocks and cutting boards. Lastly, these are useful in wooden kitchen utensils such as platters, bowls, and spoons.
At last, you already know where apply these finishes best, but your knowledge should not end there. Just a friendly reminder, no two commercially-produced wood finishes are the same. Regardless of how it is named, the mixture may be pure or not at all.
It simply means that most options out there are concoctions which contain metal compounds, solvents, dryers and thinners. Some of them may even use other wood-finishing ingredients that can pose a threat to our health.
Just a piece of advice: make it a habit to read the labels before buying one. Read and understand the instructions properly as indicated on the container. And, always dispose of the rags and pieces of thrash properly.
So, let’s get into the main point.
Now, you got several options right in front of you. How are you going to decide what works best for your wooden project? To make it short, think about whether you prefer a surface sealer or penetrating oil.
If you choose the latter, ask yourself whether you prefer a low-maintenance or a high maintenance finish. Will it be drying or non-drying oil? Here’s further explanation.
Surface Sealers and Penetrating Oil Finishes: What’s the Difference?
There is a pretty obvious difference between penetrating oil finishes and the surface sealer finishes.
As the name suggests, the penetrating oil will soak down into your wooden objects. Then, it stays inside. Though it offers less protection, this type is easier to apply. It helps the wood obtain natural color and bring out elegance in the object.
On the other hand, the surface sealers are also called film finish. They stick to the surface well and provides extra layer for better protection. As expected, it may deliver more protection, but is more complicated to apply.
Here’s one more tip: You can use surface sealers for projects that require physical strength, cleaning agents, moisture and wear and tear.
When it comes to projects that do not require much protection, you can apply penetrating oil finishes. Examples of these items include book cases, toys, decorative shelves, and picture frames. They are not just simple and easy to use, but they can bring out a sophisticated and beautiful finish.
A Glimpse on Drying and Non-Drying Penetrating Finishes
When talking about penetrating oils, there can be two categories being referred to. I will discuss it to you, piece by piece for you to understand better.
The drying oil type undergoes a process known as polymerization. When it cures, it turns solid. The said process takes place when the oil and oxygen meet. It means that such contact will start the curing process as soon as it is applied on your wood objects.
The most common kinds of drying oils are linseed, tung, and walnut oil.
On the other hand, the non-drying penetrating oil remains wet indefinitely. Although it is not really considered as an authentic finish, this oil is regarded as a treatment. Since this type does not cure, the tendency is that the oil may get washed off. It may be transferred to another surface that comes in contact with non-drying oil. It also implies that you need frequent re-application of the oil which depends on how the wood surface should be done.
The best examples for these non-drying oils are olive, coconut, rapeseed, peanut, and mineral oil.
For some clarifications, olive, rapeseed, and peanut oils are not actually kinds of food-safe wood finishes. Furthermore, if you prefer the ‘treatment’ types of penetrating oil, Coconut or Mineral oils are recommended.
Perfect Finishes for Your Wooden Objects
Have you been wondering what particular food safe wood finish to use for your next projects? Let us check some cool ideas below:
- Beeswax (Food Grade)
This type of wood finish is naturally derived from the honey bee’s honeycomb. It takes a process to refine the solution but will be worth the wait once completed. The most common application is for glazing fruits and production of chewing gums and gel capsules. Make sure to get rid of surfaces that get hot as it will melt off.
- Coconut Oil
Another foods-safe finish that works well for cutting boards and butcher blocks is coconut oil. Make sure to have the refined fractionated or the distilled variation. This way, it will not get rancid.
- Carnauba Wax
This wax is safe for consumption and known to be plant-based. It has inert and non-toxic properties. Many people use it because of its glossy properties. Carnauba wax can be combined with beeswax as well for improved water-resistance.
- Mineral Oil (Food Grade)
As mentioned earlier, mineral oil is non-toxic form of non-drying oil which can be used in a variety of wooden projects including cutting boards and block tables. Re-application of this finish can be done on a monthly basis. Failure to maintain this regular routine would cause the coating to crack or become brittle.
- Paraffin Wax
Just like the food grade mineral oil, paraffin wax is sourced from petroleum. Yet, there is nothing to worry about the safety concerns. It is completely food safe and cannot harm us. This wax is often used in preserving cheeses and jams.
A type of surface sealer, shellac brings a natural finish that is derived from one thing called ‘Lac bug’. I bet you, it is really safe for consumption. The truth is that they even coat it with candy. This is a kind of film-forming finish that leaves better moisture protection. This is perfect for making the wood surface shiny, but you must apply a generous amount of it.
- Linseed Oil (Raw)
This type belongs to the drying oil category which is derived from flax seeds. It assures protection against water and sun damaged. It takes a long period to get dried which may last for a couple of weeks or over a month.
Now, you got the top seven ideal food safe wood finishes for your next projects. Again, you must continue to explore further on buying or creating wood finish offers protection, beauty and safety. Knowing at least the fundamentals of these finishes takes you one step closer to creating beautiful projects while maintaining health and safety for your family.