Your safari online for a new miracle coating for kitchen woodenware has led you down a rabbit hole into creams and liquids, promising to preserve your precious “treen” for posterity. Some are inexpensive, and some with mysteriously unnamed unique ingredients are expensive. What do you choose?
My advice is that you do not choose any of them. Creating a good woodenware coating at home in your kitchen is simple and inexpensive. Go to the drugstore, get a bottle of Mineral Oil (USP), and get a small hunk of pure beeswax. Heat the beeswax in a double boiler until it is liquid, and stir slowly into the mineral oil. The main caution here is to remember that you are dealing with hot wax and should be cautious not to burn yourself. I do not advise heating the mineral oil.
Recipes for this vary, but the proportions of oil to wax depend on how liquid or creamy you want your coating. Mine is harder after it cools, and I’ll sometimes reheat it a bit for better penetration into newly-made cherry spoons. Frankly, during the winter, when my hand’s chap, I’ll grab a glob and work it into my skin. It’s the cheapest, most effective hand lotion I’ve found.
I am certainly not the originator of this very simple concoction. It’s been around for ages in one form or the other. Some people add twists to it with other ingredients, hum magical incantations over the mixing vessel, or indistinctly make mystical passes with wands. That’s all marketing woo-woo and doesn’t alter the basic product. Look at the ingredients label on most dressings for wooden ware, and there will only be slight variations on the theme.
Why not use walnut, olive, or other fruit or vegetable oils? Mainly because they can go rancid, but also because, unless they are refined, they’ll add their taste to the wood. We usually don’t want our woodenware to become part of our recipe.
Why the beeswax? Beeswax is generally accepted as food-safe, as is the mineral oil. When applied warm to woodenware, the mixture will sink into the grain and provide a protective finish longer than the oil alone.
A small jar of the oil and wax preparation goes a long way. You do not have to use it too often; you can touch up the wood with a bit of plain mineral oil between applications.
Just remember that uncared-for woodenware in the kitchen is not only unattractive, but as it deteriorates, it becomes unsafe. The best way to avoid that is by careful cleaning ( Please!!!! no dishwashers or overnight soakings!) and occasional treatment with a food-safe oil.