Food Safe Wood Finishes – Best Wood Finishes To Use

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Wood finds use in a variety of different areas. One place that wood plays a prominent role is in processing and serving food. Wood in the kitchen imparts a rustic look to objects.

In this brief but interesting post, we look at the various types of objects that you can make out of wood related to cooking. The selection of wood finish is quite critical, and you need to make a few considerations to find a suitable one.

Best Types Of Food Safe Wood Finish

You can find different types of food, safe wood sealants in the market. Here are a few of the commonest ones:

Tung Oil

Hope’s 100% Pure Tung Oil, Moisture Resistant Wood Finish for All Fine Woods, Furniture and Antiques,32 Ounce Bottle
Hope’s 100% Pure Tung Oil (Amazon)

This oil comes from the China wood tree. It is considered to be food safe in its purest condition. You can rub tung oil into the wood using a cloth or brush. As you gently rub the oil on the surface of the wood, it gets absorbed and begins to solidify. You will never get a complete hardening with tung oil. Always ensure that the tung oil you use is pure because oils like Danish finish and tung oil finish have added chemicals that are not food safe.

Cutting Board Oil

Caron & Doucet - Cutting Board & Butcher Block Conditioning Oil & Wood Finishing Wax Bundle | 100% Plant-Based & Vegan, Best for Wood & Bamboo Conditioning & Sealing | Does NOT Contain Mineral Oil!
Cutting Board & Butcher Block Conditioning Oil (Amazon)


The cutting board oil that you get in the market contains a combination of different substances like mineral oil and beeswax. Sometimes chemicals are added, so you need to check the ingredients to ensure that it contains only natural materials that are food safe. You can apply cutting board oil to wood with a rag soaked in the oil. You may need to re-apply this oil regularly to keep the surface of the wood conditioned.

Butcher Block Oil

John Boos MYSB Mystery Butcher Block Oil, 16 Ounce Bottle
Butcher Block Oil (Amazon)

Butcher block oil varies slightly from cutting board oil. It contains the same substances but in a different ratio, which is why we give it a different name. Like cutting board oil, you can apply butcher block oil with a cloth soaked in the oil. You will also have to re-apply butcher block oil from time to time every few months or annually.

Butcher Block Conditioner

Howard Products BBC128 Black Butcher Block Conditioner, 128 oz
Butcher Block Conditioner (Amazon)

As the name suggests, this is not a finish, but we could consider it as a “finish for a finish.” Once you have applied butcher block oil to the wood’s surface, you can apply butcher block conditioner to enhance the surface of the wood and add to the durability. The purpose of using a butcher block conditioner is to improve the strength for the finish without having to add chemicals. Natural carnauba wax usually forms the main additive of butcher block conditioner.

Wood Bowl Finish

General Finishes Wood Bowl Finish, 1 Quart
Wood Bowl Finish (Amazon)

We also call wood bowl finish as “salad bowl finish.” It is different from the other types of finish in that it forms a protective film on the surface of the wood rather than soaking into it. Wood bowl finish contains ingredients that are FDA approved.


Rust-Oleum 716 Bulls Eye Amber Shellac, 1/2-Pint
Amber Shellac (Amazon)

Shellac comes from an insect known as the lac bug. It plays a prominent role with woodworkers who use it as a food-safe wood finish. You usually get shellac in the form of dry flakes, and you need to mix it in alcohol to dissolve the flakes. Shellac can be applied either through a cloth or by brush. It forms a protective film on the surface of the wood when applied.

How To Select Food Safe Wood Finish

One of the most important considerations while using wood to be in direct contact with food is choosing a suitable finish. You have to use a method for sealing off the surface of the wood so that liquids don’t get absorbed, and the food doesn’t get contaminated.

If wood enters your food, it could become contaminated, and you could fall sick after eating food with wood content in it. To avoid this, we have to seal the wood with food-safe finishes. Here are a few tried and tested food safe finishes:

Types Of Objects With Food Safe Wood

Here are some of the interesting and useful items that you can make with wood:

Wooden Spoons

ITOS365 Handmade Wooden Spoons Cooking Utensil-Set (5-Pieces) Kitchen Tools, Set of 5

Cookware that enjoys the maximum popularity is wooden spoons. You can get wooden spoons of different sizes, shapes, and types of wood. Wooden spoon making forms a part of several business ventures. It also serves as a great source of recreation, and you can take it up as a hobby in your free time.

Wooden Spatulas

6 Wooden Spoons for Cooking – Natural & Healthy Nonstick Wooden Spatula and Spoons - Premium Cooking Utensils Set - Super Strong and Durable Made of Organic Eco Hardwood Beechwood. (6 Spoons)

Making wooden spatulas is very similar to making wooden spoons but less complicated. Because a spatula is flat, we don’t have to get involved in making the bowl-like structure of a wooden spoon. Also, the handles tend to be flat as well, so it becomes simpler to make a spatula because it is entirely flat.

Wooden Bowls

Spalted oak bowl
Spalted oak bowl (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

When you are a little more into making wooden cookware, the natural transition to wooden bowls, with wooden bowls, requires larger stock pieces and a more extensive range of carving tools. You can get various chisels and gouges for carving in the market. You need to exercise a particular level of skill while carving wooden bowls. There is always the risk of your wood cracking and splitting if your tools are not sharp or if your choice of wood is not suitable.

Wooden Cutting Boards

Making wooden cutting boards is a hugely popular woodworking project activity. But here as well, you need to select your wood carefully. Unlike spoons, spatulas, and bowls, a cutting board is going to take a beating in the kitchen. It needs to be sufficiently hard to withstand sharp knives, but then it shouldn’t be so hard as to make them blunt quickly. If you maintain your wooden cutting boards well, they will add class to your kitchen. Also, you will find the experience of cutting on a wooden cutting board quite satisfying.

Wooden Containers

You can get a variety of different wooden containers made from different types of wood. Depending on the type of wood, you can get containers of different finishes and grain patterns. Some wooden containers have separate sections to store different ingredients in the same box.


It is nice to have wooden cookware in your kitchen. It is also very satisfying if, as a woodworker, you produce these kitchen items either as a hobby or to sell them. However, if you are creating wooden objects that will come into direct contact with wood, you need to apply a food-safe wood finish. Now that you have seen the major food safe wood finishes that we get in the market, you can surely go ahead and make kitchen items from food safe wood.