Need Suggestions for Non-Toxic Oils for Wood

As the title suggests, I’d appreciate recommendations for a good, non-toxic oil that I can use to polish wood. Ideally, this will be something that will bring out the grain without changing the natural color too much, won’t make (highly sensitive) me sick when working with it, and can be worn on/near skin. Bonus points if it adds some water resistance and/or a pleasant scent.

I’ve used linseed oil in the past, and it’s okay but some of the pieces that I did with it kind of yellowed (don’t remember the wood type).

Thanks in advance for any suggestions that you can offer!


Mineral Oil? (Doesn’t yellow, doesn’t go rancid, can be consumed in cases of bowel immotility.) :smile:


That’s exactly what I mean by polish. I don’t want anything shiny or glossy, just something that will showcase the grain and hopefully protect the wood and give it a nice finished look.


Depending on your sensitivities and finish pref, people sometimes blend mineral oil and beeswax.


I have to agree with others here. Mineral Oil has been a dependable solution for things like this.

There are other products out there but to each their own.

I have used mineral oil since high school shop class and I’m a creature of habit.


I’ve used quite a few different oils for something like this.

I like Tung oil and it provides one of the best water resistances for an oil finish, but it has a yellow appearance like linseed oil and does change the color of woods slightly. On something like Walnut or cherry, I think it really helps it. It brings out the grain and makes you see the depth more. On maple, however, it will amber it a little. Also, it has an odor. I don’t find it to be that bad, but some might. (I don’t like the smell of boiled linseed oil.) Also, I’m talking about pure tung oil.

I used mineral oil a lot because it is pretty much odorless, doesn’t hurt your hands to apply even without gloves, and is totally food safe, as @Jules mentioned. (It is an old timey laxative) It doesn’t bring out walnut grain quite as much as tung oil, in my opinion, but it sure doesn’t yellow the lighter woods like maple or birch.

I like to soak/wipe it on, let sit for about 15 min, and then wipe all excess off. Then, let it rest for 10+ hours. Then, do it again. If this is just something to be worn like a pendant necklace or something, you might not need a second coat. I only do that on the cutting boards I make so they have the max conditioning right at the beginning.


Thanks so much for the detailed info! That was super helpful :slight_smile:

Based on all of the responses thus far, it sounds like mineral oil is the go-to. I might try it mixed with beeswax too, as the idea just appeals to me. If it’s not too expensive, I may try Tung on some darker woods too, just to see what you mean here.


I use a 50/25/25 mix of mineral oil, beeswax and linseed oil for oil finishes. If you skip the linseed I’d go with a 70/30 ratio of mineral oil & beeswax. Before application I warm it in the microwave for a few minutes so it’s warm but not hot. That helps it soak in better (I think :slight_smile:️ ). I too put it on wet and allow it to soak in before wiping off but I’ll follow it with another coat after 4 hours. Not sure it matters that much but it let’s me do more coats in a day. (That’s why I use a shellac/alcohol mix instead of poly for that kind of finish - 15 to 30 minutes between coats. I’m not big on taking days to get a finish completed.)


It’s a little pricey, but not too bad. This is the stuff that I have:


Yeah, I like shellac and lacquer for that very reason…they’re so fast to dry. Even here in high humidity, I can do multiple coats in an hour. Those are film finishes though, rather than oil like your first one you mentioned. Do you like the addition of the beeswax?

@Drea One thing to remember is that even if you’re using mineral oil, if you add in beeswax, it will yellow it more, since beeswax is naturally yellow.


That is by volume, correct?

yes - because I melt the beeswax first.

Correct. That’s why it’s a good add to a mineral oil for finishing though - gives you a much longer lasting finish. I wouldn’t go more than 30% by volume. As you note if it’s too much, it’s a buffing challenge :slight_smile:

Yep - film ones are good for some pieces and a straight oil finish for others. As others have piped in, beeswax does help the longevity of the finish. Don’t have to re-oil nearly as often as a straight mineral oil (or mineral/linseed oil mix) finish.

And I used to be a beekeeper so I like to use bee stuff :smile:


I’m lucky. I’m in the suburbs with an acre that’s mostly trees between me & the neighbors. I also have a small stream on the border which bees like. Neighbors never really noticed.


My personal go-to for non toxic but still nice would be to melt beeswax and add it to pure tung oil (not “tung oil finish”, not at all the same thing) in about a 50/50 ratio. Then I set it up in a container in the refrigerator, until it forms a waxy cake. You can then break off a piece into the center of a thin rag (I use scrap muslin I have lying around), ball it up in the rag, and rub the rag ball on whatever you need to polish – your hand will melt the polish and send a nice, even layer through the fabric onto the wood. It takes a little time to get tack dry enough to buff (a few hours or so), but then I just buff it out with a dry piece of muslin, rubbing with the grain til you get a bit of sheen.


I use Tung Oil either straight or with a beewax mix on my wooden hives.

Wow, you are brave, is it safe in the mWave?
I always use a double-boiler for melting my wax.

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Sure. A pint won’t boil over or get too hot if you do it at 50% power (1300W oven) for 2 minutes.

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i use this for my cutting boards its a food safe mineral oil so its not made with petroleum like most mineral oils, they also have one with natural waxes

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Yeah, I get mine from the local supermarket in the Health & Beauty section where it’s sold for laxative and other purposes. It’s not something I pick up at Home Depot :slight_smile:


I like to use mineral oil or Howard Feed-n-Wax Wood Polish & Conditioner which is made from Beeswax & Orange Oil.


Same here…and a pint is about $2. Way cheaper than the Howard stuff. I think it’s a pint…can’t recall the actual size off the top of my head.