Oil Finishes for Food Prep Counters

Natural oils or waxes make a good finish for stable wood counter-tops in kitchens. April 30, 2006

What is the recommended finish for a jatoba countertop? The top will be used for food prep. My customer wants a dull or rubbed look. Linseed oil and paraffin wax have been suggested, however I am concerned about longevity and moisture intrusion.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor R:
Rub it down with some peanut or walnut oil every week for a few months. I would leave both the wax and the linseed oil out of the equation for rancid reasons.

Haven't you noticed while working with this wood that it's tough as one of Miss Kitty's saloon girls and the possibility of moisture changing the stability of this wood is nearly nil?

From contributor b:
I'm unaware what jatoba is. But if the top will get used a lot, why not go with a dull or medium rubbed CV? I personally hate CV, but it's very strong and durable.

From contributor G:
Use an oil so when they scratch it up with knives, they can rub it down again. Provide them with the oil for the future and explain what has to be done, or else you will be doing return calls forever.

From contributor V:
I did a whole kitchen of countertops out of Brazilian walnut a couple of years ago. Walnut and peanut oil will go rancid. However, you can use pure tung oil. Not the stuff that says tung oil finish. Tung oil is food safe and you can wax over it. However, any oil/wax combo will require maintenance and reapplication on a regular basis. The only place I have found that I can get actual pure tung oil is at Woodcraft. It comes in pint, quart and gallon bottles. It is thick and amber.

From contributor R:
Butchers for years have been rubbing down their work stations with various oils - peanut and walnut being just two of them. I suppose you could use mineral oil, but don't be afraid of walnut or peanut oils - they work for butchers who slaughter and process more meats in a day than your customer will in their entire lifetime.