Should You Use Mineral Oil For Wood? [Or is it a Bad Idea?]

Written by Whittle Waxes


Posted on May 03 2021

There are a lot of misconceptions out there when it comes to using mineral oil on wood surfaces. Is it a food-safe oil, perfect for protecting wooden cutting boards and kitchen utensils as some people claim, or is it simply a bad idea all round?

Before you use mineral oil on your kitchen cabinets and wooden cutting surfaces, take a look at the facts on using mineral oil for wood.

What is mineral oil?

Despite its name, mineral oil doesn’t actually contain anything healthy. Nor is it the slightest bit natural.

Mineral oil is made from petroleum. The crude oil is processed to remove impurities – this is why food-grade mineral oil is clear and odourless. However, this doesn’t make it healthy or eco-friendly. Also, not all mineral oil is food-safe.

What are the benefits of using mineral oil on wood?

So, if it’s not necessarily the most food-safe wood oil, why do some people use mineral oil to preserve their cutting boards and other wooden products in the kitchen?

Mineral oil does have a few advantages:

  • It’s relatively stable and won’t spoil when exposed to warm temperatures.
  • When applied to wood, mineral oil leaves a clear finish, making it a practical choice when you want a natural look.
  • Petroleum-based, highly refined mineral oil is considered to be non-toxic.
  • Refined mineral oil won’t give off any foul odours.

How to use mineral oil for wood cabinets, cutting boards and other kitchen surfaces

The application process for mineral oil is similar to the steps you would take when applying most wood oil finishes:

Sand the wood as necessary to create a smooth surface.

Apply the mineral oil to the wood with a cloth or a brush.

Let the oil soak in until the wood is dry.

Once it’s dry, you can apply a second coat.

Repeat until the wood is evenly saturated with the oil.

For cutting boards, wooden utensils, countertops and other heavily used timber surfaces in the kitchen, you can oil the surface once a month to help prevent warping and cracking.

Mineral oil vs natural wood oil

There are a few issues with mineral oil you should be aware of before using it in the home.

  • If you’re using it on food surfaces, you’re potentially ingesting small amounts of petroleum. One thing you can do to help protect your food if you use mineral oil is to apply a coat of beeswax over the mineral oil after it dries.
  • Mineral oil that isn’t heavily refined will contain impurities, which can be harmful to your health. Even moderately refined mineral oils are classed as carcinogens and are not something you want in your body.
  • You’ll have to reapply mineral oil regularly – it’s not a long-lasting wood product like oil finishing products that are designed for wood protection are.

Natural wood oils, on the other hand, are just as easy to apply. Unlike mineral oil, once the Hardwax oils have cured they are completely toxin-free, food-safe, pet-safe, and toy-safe. They’ll also last much longer, which means less maintenance.

Whittle Waxes Hardwax Oils are an excellent choice if you’re looking for a 100 percent natural wood oil that’s safe for everyone and that’s ideal for use in kitchens, as well as bathrooms.

Made from a blend of sustainable raw materials including sunflower oil, jojoba oil, beeswax, and carnauba wax, hardwax oils will repel water, enhance the beauty of the wood, and protect all of your timber surfaces for years. Explore the range of Whittle Waxes Hardwax Oils to learn more.



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