Thursday, February 20, 2014


I am struggling a bit with oil finishes these days.

I have been experimenting for a while with warm oil baths.  I have two crock pots (not pressure cookers!), one filled with flax oil and beeswax, and the other with walnut oil and beeswax.  I heat them up to about 160 and soak spoons and bowls for about five hours, until they won't bob to the surface when I remove the rocks that hold them under.  I like the results from an aesthetic standpoint.  The appearance is lovely, and the soaking adds a bit of weight to the object, which is especially nice in a spoon (they are so light normally!).

The problem I am having now is the taste that the process imparts to the food or drink it holds, especially anything hot.  I like the taste of flax and walnut oils and beeswax, but not all the time.  My wife loves her kuksa and the "nutty" taste it gives her coffee.  But I want to make a cup for myself that does not impart such taste.

I have some salad bowl finish, and might try that.  It is supposed to be food safe, though I think it has some additives that aid in penetration that are not so natural...  I read on the bodgers site, (under ask and answer, materials knowledge, what wood is best used for hot liquids,) that Paul Atkin in the UK uses "six coats of Junkers worktop oil then treated again with several coats of chestnut food safe finish".
I am always worried about how food safe commercial products are, but maybe I need to get over it.

Maybe I need to let everything cure longer, let it polymerize? Maybe the wax is slowing that process?  Maybe I should try the boiled milk method?

Wonderful questions to ponder.  So much to learn...


  1. Good day Eric, My self, I like light weight spoons, after all my favorite wood is sitka spruce, and it make a spoon as light as a feather… As for food grade/food safe finish, I read at multiple occasion, from good sources, that all finishes are, WHEN CURED, food safe, even varnish, boiled linseed oil etc, but the trick is to know when it is fully cured. I think most oiled can take up to 6 months to be fully cured. maybe what you have to try is to let a few of your spoons, cups cure for a few months and do a taste test again!!

    I need to try the crock pot method to soak my finish in!!


    1. Hi David,
      Interesting. Thanks for this.
      It could be a problem with the total saturation of the bowls. The surface would cure (that is oxidize) but the oil/wax underneath the surface is not exposed to air, so would not cure. Then, when you add hot liquid, the oil heats up, expands, and forces its way through the cured surface layer, imparting taste.
      Maybe, or that just sounded better in my head than on the screen.
      I do have my first bowls, turned and soaked this summer, that should have cured by now. They do have a taste, though much less than something turned more recently.
      Again, thanks for your feedback.