Best food-safe wood finish In 2024

When finishing wood, be sure to check for toxins, especially if the wood will come in contact with food. We all grow more aware of the food we eat and its ingredients. That includes both healthy and unhealthy foods, as well as the ingredients used. But, all of this is for naught if we end up using harmful wood kitchen equipment. So we have food-safe finishes.

Also, we have information on wood-safe finishes that you can use for your next project. There are many options, and we’ve included a comprehensive guide to help you choose.

food safe wood finish

The 5 Best Food-Safe Finishes

Modern wood finishes are impressively diverse. While I complimented his products with other ones that I wanted to experiment with, I began with those that my grandfather used. If you are going to use wood for a culinary project, you will want to consider the following finishes.

Mineral Oil

Swan Mineral Oil 16 oz
  • Laxative
  • Relief from dry skin irritation

Minerals or petroleum are often used to make these oils. A feature of clear wood is that the natural appearance of the material is enhanced. A wood’s surface can be filled with smaller pores and imperfections using this treatment. The natural appearance of cooking utensils may be important to woodworkers.

Applied to food items, mineral oil has no odor to begin with and does not leave a taste afterward. When applied over a water-based wood stain, they are effective but should be avoided if the stain is oil-based.

In comparison to many other types of finishes, mineral oils are more affordable. Cutting boards and wooden countertops will benefit from this product’s soft finish. While the products are easy to maintain, they lack durability and will need regular re-coating.

There are two types of mineral oil: crude and refined. Mineral oil can serve as a finish, but you should know the difference between the two. Industrial settings often use crude mineral oil, which should be avoided. Mineral oils are safe for cosmetics and food since they are marked as such by the FDA.

Using beeswax

Since ancient times, wood has been finished and polished using this product. Since this is an all-natural product, it lacks harsh chemicals. This benefit makes honey bee products popular among woodworkers.

The main thing to keep in mind when using beeswax is that you will need to apply it more laboriously than with some finishes. It must be melted so that it can be worked with. Joiners often mix beeswax with oil (tung oil is commonly used) to extend the time it can be worked.

A couple of users add lemon oil as a scent to this material when they apply it. In addition to acting as an antibacterial agent, some people claim that lemon oil will also benefit items made of wood related to food.

A good deal of protection is provided by beeswax, but it will not penetrate into the wood as deeply as other products. Providing the best protection will require frequent reapplications. Natural products are generally non-toxic and can be used by most individuals without any problems.

As a result of being applied and buffed, the wood will acquire a warm appearance that brings out its natural colors. A finish made with this technique feels silky smooth when touched, a feature that sets it apart from hard, smooth varnishes.

Almond oil

La Tourangelle, Roasted Walnut Oil, Plant-Based Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acid, Cooking, Baking, & Beauty, 16.9 Fl Oz
  • Chef's Secret Ingredient: Delicate and pale in color, La Tourangelle Roasted Walnut Oil provides a rich yet elusively nutty taste; it has distinct notes of walnut nutmeats in every drop. Made from California walnuts selected for best flavor
  • Quality You can Taste: The mainstay of all La Tourangelle’s natural, artisanal oils is premium taste derived from the best quality ingredients. Add the flavor of La Tourangelle to any meal

French woodworkers often apply this finish, which is familiar to European readers. When used on food-safe items, the coating should be applied pure. Mineral oil can be used to mix the coating when applying it to decoration pieces.

To protect food utensils from damage, walnut oil should be applied at least six times. Water and alcohol are both well protected by walnut oil. Food allergies should be aware of the possibility of adverse effects from this product.

Woodgrain should be penetrated nicely, highlighting multicolored wood. The maintenance required with walnut oil will be lower than that of beeswax or other waxes.

Carnauba Wax

Carnauba Wax | For Wood, Furniture and Leather Finishing | Use in Homemade Balms and Other Skin Care | 100% Pure Carnauba Wax Flakes | Food Grade | Vegan Wax | 1 LB (16 oz) by Better Shea Butter
  • Use it to seal wood pieces such as furniture, cutting boards, wood pipes and more. When used correctly, Carnauba Wax creates a beautiful glossy sheen to your pieces.
  • Use it in balms and other skincare formulations to add firmness and to help retain moisture on skin. Carnauba Wax can be a vegan replacement to Beeswax.

Palm trees in Brazil produce carnauba wax. Since the product is made of natural vegetable wax, it is food-safe. Because pure beeswax can be difficult to use consistently, this wax is usually mixed with beeswax.

Maximum coverage of two to three coats will be achieved with this wax. All wax products are unable to penetrate wood grain. This material provides some durability compared to beeswax, but the strength will erode with time, and it must be reapplied.

It provides a satin-like shine and a soft feel when touched. Carnauba wax is used by woodworkers as a protective coating over other products, but it is non-toxic.

Purified tung oil

HOPE'S 100% Pure Tung Oil, Food Safe, Premium Waterproof Natural Wood Finish and Sealer for Indoor and Outdoor Projects, 32 Fl Oz, 1 Pack
  • Easy to Use - Tung oil is a natural oil recognized by craftsmen to offer the ultimate hand-rubbed finish for all fine woods; just wipe on and allow the oil to cure at room temperature
  • Permeates - Unlike other finishes that form a film on the wood’s surface, tung oil penetrates deep into the wood fibers, cures to a flexible non-oily solid, and becomes part of the wood itself

The nuts of the tung tree are a popular choice for many joiners. Among the reasons for their popularity is their durability, a characteristic that offers both hardness and low maintenance. In addition, it provides solid wooden items that are resistant to water, a quality that is essential for wood items used in the food industry. However, can tung oil be used in food?

My list includes tung oil, as it prevents food particles from sticking to wood surfaces after 3 days of curing and is food-safe after curing. To provide high levels of protection, you will need to reapply monthly.

Ensure that any tung oil products you purchase are pure. Most woodworkers are prohibited from using oil and varnish blends or wipe-on products around food. They contain solvents.

Buying guide to the best food-safe wood finish 

Curing Time

food safe wood finish

Making sure the finish has been adequately cured before painting is one of the first things to consider. In case you thought cured meant dried, we’re here to let you know otherwise. Drying doesn’t penetrate the product as deeply as curing does. Curing is required for food-safe finishes.

Curing is the process of allowing the finish to dry completely, starting at the very bottom. Before food can be placed on food-safe finishes, it must be cured completely. You should check the drying and curing times when choosing a food-safe finish.

Not All Oils

It is now clear that most of the finishes on this list are wax or oil-based. However, not all oils should be used for those finishes. Any wooden utensil, including utensils, should not be coated in vegetable or olive oil. Fats are used to make these oils, and they do not curdle when they touch the utensils.

When the oil from the wood is mixed with the food, it gives the food an unpleasant taste. Also, as the oils have a shelf life, they are likely to go bad eventually. In addition, while it may be true that consuming rancid oil has caused death in some cases, why take a chance?

food safe wood finish


Despite being safe for food, most of the finishes on this list are still potentially harmful to consumers. The majority of woodworkers would advise wearing masks to protect themselves from particle contamination, but these have no effect on chemical vapors. When using any finish, ensure that you are in a well-ventilated area. If this is not an option, purchase a respirator for respiratory protection.

According to our recommendations, boiled linseed oil and tung oil have the least amount of toxins compared to other food-safe finishes. 

Lacquers and shellac are then followed closely by water-based finishes. You must still be aware that while all are safe, they are still tainted with toxins.

food safe wood finish

Lacquer Finish

A glossy lacquered finish will give you an Asian-inspired look. The finish, however, becomes discolored over time. Even though lacquer finishes are quite durable, they are easily scratched. Since they are thin, sprayers are necessary to apply them. This means that you need a well-ventilated area so as to promote airflow. Many lacquers (also known as varnishes) have hazardous ingredients in them, making it difficult to find food-safe versions. These products are easy to use to finish wooden items.

Polyurethane Finish

Water-based and oil-based finishes are available, and both can be described as liquid plastics. In general, water-based paints are more popular because of their minimal odor, how quickly they dry, and their low toxicity levels. Polyurethane formulated with water is, however, much less durable than polyurethane formulated with oil. It has the advantage of offering a durable finish, but it releases more hazardous fumes and emits a strong odor as well. Also, it takes longer to dry. Although polyurethane varnishes must be dried before becoming food-tested, most should become food-safe once they are dry.

food safe wood finish

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of wood finish is food safe?

Developed from Indian lac bugs, shellac is a common food-safe finish for films. Water is not a problem for it. In addition to being able to be applied in liquid or flakes, shellac is available in different hues and must be dissolved in ethanol before use.

What is the safest polyurethane?

Bob Flexner, an expert on finishes, says cure-time determines whether a finish is food-safe or not. There are no known hazards associated with polyurethane varnish. Food safety is not achievable until the finish is fully cured.

Are wood slices safe to eat when sealed?

food safe wood finish

Apply food-safe butcher block conditioner with a soft cloth. Wipe off excess conditioner and buff the wood to a smooth sheen after soaking in the conditioner for at least 20 minutes. Continue applying conditioner three to four times as needed to season the surface.

Is olive oil suitable for finishing wood?

Olive oil is not as harmful to wooden furniture as some people believe. Rather, it enhances and nourishes wood, bringing out its natural shine. There are many kinds of wooden surfaces it can be used to treat. The oil can serve as a varnish on everything from chairs and tables to wooden storage boxes.

How do I seal Butcher block countertops?

Polyurethane sealers, modified plant oils, mineral oils, walnut oils, tung oils, and walnut oil can all be used for sealing butcher block countertops. Many of these are affordable and effective, but choosing an option that is food safety is always the best option.


It is important to use a food-safe wood finish when putting your hard work into building a piece of furniture. The best way to ensure that you have found the right sealant for this purpose is by reading reviews and consulting with experts in the field. This blog has provided some excellent resources on which finishes are considered “food-safe” or not, as well as steps for proper application techniques. With all these great tips at hand, it should be much easier for you to find the perfect product! We hope this article helped answer any questions you may have had about how to make sure what type of finish you buy will actually protect your new table from spills and stains without harming people who consume food off its surface.

Leave a Comment