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If you’re planning to make cutting boards, bowls, spoons, or any other project that’s going to come into contact with food, you don’t want to finish it with stain and polyurethane.  Instead you need to use a food-safe alternative like Behlen’s Salad Bowl Finish.

The finish is best applied with a rag, and after it’s cured the proper amount of time it leaves a dried film that’s non-toxic and safe for use with food.

Sold in pint or quart sizes, one pint of Behlen’s Salad Bowl Finish will run you about $12 plus shipping.

Behlen [Corporate Site]
Street Pricing [Google]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]


18 Responses to Food-Safe Wood Finish

  1. PeterP says:

    I built a wood surround for my grill that needs to be finished. Any idea how well this stuff holds up outdoors? The wood is pressure treated, so I assume any finish I put on it cannot be worse than what is already there…

  2. John Doe says:

    This is not appropriate for outdoor use.

    A deck oil may help protect your surround a bit, but weather and
    UV will have an effect. You won’t be placing food directly on
    the surround, anyhow.

    A spar varnish will survive UV for a couple of years, but I’d worry
    about the effects of heat.

    Fine Woodworking did a survey of outdoor finishes in the most
    recent issue.

  3. Mike47 says:

    I’ve refinished cutting boards and made some toy block sets for children. I use clear Mineral Oil, listed as approved by FDA. Brush or rag-wipe it on, let it sit in the sun for a day or two to soak in, then it’s good to go.

  4. Toolhearty says:

    There’s also Tung nut oil. I believe the 100% stuff is FDA approved. It used to be used (maybe still is in some cases) for lining metal food cans.

  5. FredB says:

    Good ideas here for wood toys that kids are going to chew on. They are like puppies except puppies grow out of it faster.

  6. Jeremy says:

    Any idea if this finish is alcohol safe? I’ve got a friend who wants a wooden beer mug for the Renaissance Fair and I’ve got no idea how to finish it safely.

    Everything I can think of needs to be recoated frequently (mineral oil), taste bad (wax and shellac), or be toxic (pretty much everything else).

  7. Frank Townend says:

    Jeremy take a look around the InterTubes for woodturners who turn wooden goblets. Several use CA Glue (“Super Glue”) which leaves a durable, waterproof, food safe surface.

  8. Mike47 says:

    Jeremy: Think stainless steel insert!

  9. eosha says:

    Jeremy: Although beeswax might taste a bit off, straight paraffin wax doesn’t leave a taste, is water-tight, and is easily remelted if there’s a problem. Only downside is that you can’t use the container for hot drinks.

  10. Kai says:

    I’ve had good successes with Organoil – http://www.organoil.com.au/

    In particular their Hard Burnishing Oil:

    I’ve finished a hardwood benchtop in my kitchen with it – it’s a beautiful smooth finish that wears well and smells fantastic when you’re applying it!

  11. Jereme Green says:

    I love this stuff I would mind finishing a cut board with it

  12. Brett from Utah says:

    I’ve coated several projects meant for food and drink use with pure beeswax. I Heat the wood and rub in the melted wax, I’ve never noticed any taste, but it is certainly pleasant to work with, as it smells like honey…
    Also if you’re equipped for machining extremely dense woods I like to make eating/drinking implements from Mesquite, Manzanita, Ironwood and, my personal favorite Mountain Mahogany, all of these woods are very dense and hard and machine fairly well if a bit slowly, and one has to be careful to avoid burning, but the Mountain Mahogany has the added advantage of very fine, tight grain- the down side is that unless you live in the arid mountain region of the US you aren’t likely to find any- I can think of no commercial sources for it, I’ve collected dead wood on public land here in Utah, though for anything large( and by large I mean bigger than a dead branch) you’d probably be wise to ask the public land agency for a permit to harvest, though I don’t know much about it as I have always just collected a few sticks and branches for cups, bowls and spoons…

  13. Lars says:

    Seconding the Mineral Oil advice. “Tried and True” finishes (google ’em) are foodsafe as well.

  14. ShopMonger says:

    Technically if you let the finishg sure almost all finishes are “food safe”

    but a sligh coat of a “drying oil” then maybe a wax protection would be best for a long run at the beer garden…..No shellac….although for the outdoor bbq i would get some boat varnish……or even some shellac as long as you spill no beer/wine/spirits on it……for my new outdoor table i am using spar urathane….then some uv deck finish .. then a coat of wipe on poly, then a coating of wax……….and i will be leaving it outside all year around……in NJ

  15. gail says:

    If you still want manzanita let me know I have tons of it

  16. gail says:

    sorry its mahogany you want not manzanita my bad

  17. cameron says:

    im building a utility table/cart for my kitchen I want the top to be food safe, but i want to stain the top a mahogany…does this product come in tints, or can it be applied over stain and still be safe

  18. Rose Turner says:

    Does this salad bowl product cone in colors

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