|I'm often asked what type of finish
to use on cutting boards, wooden spoons, and toys for young children. The
easiest answer is to suggest one that's sold as "non-toxic." But this
implies that other finishes are harmful, and this isn't necessarily true.
Most of the obviously harmful solvents evaporate as finishes sure. So are
finishes really dangerous? Once they've cured completely, most may be safe --
but they may not be. To be on the safe side, you can use a finish approved for
human consumption, like mineral oil or walnut oil.
Here is our "Custom Finish for Cutting Boards." In developing this
finish, we were looking for two things: the penetration of an oil and the shine
of a wax. So we made up an oil-wax finish. It's not a complicated formula, and
it's not a scientific process. Roughly ten parts mineral oil to one part
paraffin wax. That's it.
We mixed a batch by filling a coffee cup about half full of mineral oil. Then
we scraped shavings into the cup from a block of paraffin wax (just like
carving a bar of soap).
To dissolve the shavings, we simply put the cup in the warmest spot we could
think of -- the sunny dashboard of a car out in the parking lot. A pan of hot
water would do the same thing. Just stay away from open flames -- paraffin is a
petroleum distillate and potentially flammable.
About about fifteen minutes, the wax shavings had dissolved and the finish was
ready to be applied. We immediately wiped it on a cutting board that had been
sanded up to 220-grit. The next day, the board was ready to be used. We just
buffed it up with a soft cloth.
Go to Tip #50