View Full Version : Food Safe??

10-04-2011, 03:05 PM
I have been making the Autumn leaves, staining them then putting on a clear finish.
I am getting questions regarding how "food safe" they are and i dont know how to answer.
How should i answer this question?

10-04-2011, 03:20 PM
I just did a quick Forum Search ("Food Safe") and found 15 Threads of posts on the subject -- some interesting Reading!!

10-04-2011, 04:35 PM
I have read thru most of those posts and i still have not gotten a clear answer if its "safe" to put food on wood dishes that have been stained then clear coated.
I am referring to food such as cheese & crackers, unwrapped candy that kind of stuff. . . .

10-04-2011, 04:48 PM
You probably need to err on the side of safety and assume if the finish does not say food-safe, it should not be used to hold/serve food items.

Perhaps this post helps:


10-04-2011, 04:57 PM
When i turn bowls i tend to use General finish brand salad bowl finish. It is a clear coat with various gloss

Hope this helps


10-04-2011, 05:23 PM
where do you buy the general finish brand salad bowl finish? Expensive?

10-04-2011, 05:29 PM
Food safe materials for finishing has been a touchy subject for years. Only a finish that has been tested by the FDA is considered to be food safe. This is mineral oil, walnut oil, boiled linseed oil, and salad bowl finish to name a few. Each batch has to be tested for the salad bowl finish, this is the reason it is twice the price. Yet finishes of today do not have the same heavy metals in them for drying as days of old. These new metals are lower in concentration today than in the past. Today's finishes are considered to be food safe after curing of 10 to 30 days (see manufacturer label for curing time). The heavy metals are encapsulated in the finish, plus the small amounts that may be scratched off, has smaller amounts of the heavy metal in them. Amounts so small they are considered to be safe.

In my bowl turning I use food safe salad bowl finish, mineral oil or walnut oil. I play it on the safe side, just in case.

10-04-2011, 06:15 PM

I buy mine at a Rockler Store about 5 mile from me, if you can get their monthly flier
they often post a free shipping code number in them. http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=5344&filter=salad bowl finish&ne_ppc_id=776&mkwid=3419024&pcrid=5129825400&ne_key_id=sYjNGQ9Z6&gclid=CK_ijMSS0KsCFYjBKgodylXvVg

Ps. I see Rockler has a new store in Richardson, Texas about 25 or 30 minutes from you.

10-04-2011, 07:10 PM
one of the most renowned finishers in the world, Bob Flexner, advocates that all of the non-metal containing (modern) finishes cure food safe.

I won't argue the point one way or the other, but will say that you have to be careful that some finishes may be "food safe" but may still cause allergic reactions in some folks-- (I've heard of this happening with some of the nut oils) for this reason I tend to use mineral spirits when I need a non-hardening finish. For hard finishes, shellac is food safe when made with grain alcohol.


10-04-2011, 09:18 PM
An additional, respected source on this topic (and darned near any other wood finishing/tool related) would be Steve Mickley, Finishing and Refinishing Forum Host over at Wood magazine [http://community.woodmagazine.com/]. Should you be interested, slip into the Finishing and Refinishing forum and run a search on "Food Safe." Think you'll find verification of Mr. Lawrence's relay from Mr. Flexner - and a whole lot more.

Just my $.02


10-05-2011, 04:41 PM
For the inside of the Tortilla warmers I have as projects in the Store here, I used butcher block oil that I also use on cutting bvoards. Easy to find and not expensive at Home Depot.

10-05-2011, 08:22 PM
I use bee's wax for counter tops and cutting boards.This can be used for bowls and dishes. To stain them you can use food dye's and mix the colors.to make the color you want(past type)

Alan Malmstrom
10-05-2011, 09:28 PM
one of the most renowned finishers in the world, Bob Flexner, advocates that all of the non-metal containing (modern) finishes cure food safe.


I have heard this from Bob Flexner and at a class I went to one time. I would stick with polyurethane. Doesn't have to be Salad Bowl. I heard Salad bowl is made of the same stuff as any other.

Thats what I think any way.


12-15-2012, 12:51 PM
Know this is older post, but Shellac is food safe. They use shellac as glaze on medicines and candy so... but on cutting boards and such I use a mix of mineral oil, bees wax and carnuba wax.

12-15-2012, 07:03 PM
Also watch out for the Stain you are using.... Could be NON FOOD SAFE.... With todays Liability Laws.... You are correct to error on the side of Caution. Nut Aligeries.... A Slippery Slope.... Not worth loosing your house over...

Also search this on Sawmill Creek and Wood Web.

Good Luck,


Real World...

Yes your Honor, we have Exhibit "E" the transcripts from a CarveWright Forum where the Defendant Did Look for Advice on Safe Wood Finishes. So your Honor, He proceeded and our Client was Harmed. With Pain and Suffering, we are looking for a Settlement of..... $$$$$$

12-15-2012, 07:26 PM
Howard's Butcher block oil would be the best bet.Exceeds FDA standards for butcher blocks, cutting boards, wooden utensils, wooden bowls and even wooden toys.

You can get it on amazon and similar product at most wood stores

12-15-2012, 09:53 PM
when making a wooden spoon is just leaving the wood raw with no finish an OK practice [ i use cherry wood
All opinions given to me on this forum will be as just opinions an will not be used against anyone with who opinionates 2 me in a court of law [ HA ha]

12-15-2012, 11:22 PM
If nothing else you can just wipe on some mineral oil. Find it at most drug stores. Will make it look nice and give some protection.

02-09-2013, 08:16 PM
Lawrence is dead on, all finishes are SUPPOSED to be food safe once fully cured. Of course that is a problem in and of itself. I have had stained items that still retained a chemical smell after 40 or 50 days.

My most popular item sold is Cutting boards and Butcher blocks, I sell a hundreds of them, no exaggeration. I did a lot of research into what works and what could bite you in the butt later on. Mineral oil is always a safe bet, but requires reapplication for maintenance as time goes by. Customers generally hate that, but I still use it on some of my blocks. I would never use a stain on any item to be used with food. Stain is way to questionable in curing times. For 99.9% of my cutting boards and my bowls, I use Salad bowl finish. It is essentially a mineral oil base with paraffin distillates to allow it to harden and seal pores. With a few coats you can actually work it up to a nice semi gloss finish for bowls. It's safe and the FDA has approved it so your rear is covered. I do use and sell some nut oil products with my boards, but I make sure that they all state that they contain nut oils and may cause allergic reactions. In general, it is best to stick to the salad bowl finish. It's easy, safe, and gives a very nice low maintenance finish to your products.