I posted this on misc.consumers. frugal-living but I thought that you folks
here on rec.ww would probably have much better advice. Even thought this
topic is not pure wood working, these bowls are made of wood! Is that close
Yesterday at a yard sale, I bought a nice wooden salad bowl set (big serving
bowl, two wooden serving utensils and two smaller matching bowls). The big
bowl has a label saying that it's made of teak. The set is well used - some
of the wood looks greasy dark stained, part of the wood (especially the
outside of the smaller bowls) looks dried out, a couple of spots on the
underside feel sticky. I've been wanting a wooden salad serving bowl and
this set, despite the current splotchy surface, is very handsome (in a sleek
"Danish-Modern" style) and in good shape.
I would like to clean it (I suspect the sticky parts might be oil/salad
dressing that wasn't cleaned off) and put a new finish on it so we can use
it. So what's the best way to get this wooden set looking good and - very
important - in a way that won't poison us? I'm thinking maybe I should wash
it in hot water (should I use dish soap?) than seal it with some oil but I
can't remember what kind of oil is best for salad bowls. I seem to recall
that teak is special in some way - that it never is supposed to have oil put
on it because it's inherently an oily wood - is this right? From the looks
of the outside of these bowls I suspect they've been washed over and over in
hot soapy water and much of any oil in the wood has been stripped out.
So any advice for reviving my wooden bowl set?
Thanks for any assistance.
Chris in lovely Ithaca NY
Teak is a naturally oily wood. I am unsure about any consequences this
brings up for use as a food serving bowl. I do know that a safe finish for
wooden bowls is walnut oil. This gives the wood a nice look and it is food
safe. It will need to be reapplied periodically.
If you cant wash all of the crap off of the bowls, you may need to spend
some quality time with our good freind sandpaper.
Mineral oil. Buy in the pharmacy section of your favorite store. You
could try a little kerosene to clean it before applying the mineral
oil (yes, kerosene is not particularly poisonous and you can ask the
pharmacist where you purchase the mineral oil).
I worked branding cattle one time when I was a teenager. The guy used a
mixture of kerosene and water to put on the male calf's empty sac after
making a steer out of him... supposedly disinfected it. The calf didn't
particularly care for the whole procedure as the guy just used a pocket
knife and no anesthesia. I cringed every time we did one.
Mineral oil is often mentioned, but as it does not cure, it collects and
shelters things from your efforts at washing. Except when you finally wash
it away, of course, which makes me wonder why use it. Nut oils cure
pretty well, but I would say all this is moot on a salad set. Oil from the
dressing is going to be the answer, and won't go rancid (incomplete
oxidation) save in an oxygen-deprived environment. Means store the bowl by
itself, nothing in it, it in nothing.
Kerosene is just a lighter (mineral oil) fraction, which means clean it
with oil of your choice.
If you decide on mineral oil, you can visit your local woodworking stores
(or catalogs) such as Rockler or Woodcraft and others. They will have some
type of mineral oil or mineral oil based products. I purchased Butcher
Block oil (which is just mineral oil) for a cutting board.
Woodworkers Supply has this product that sounds interesting and I may buy
some the next time I make something that comes in contact with food.
a.. 912-391 - Clapham's Beeswax Salad Bowl Finish is made with natural
beeswax with oil and is perfect for use on cutting boards, cheese boards,
fruit or salad bowls, toys, utensils and more. Ready for use immediately
after application. Buffs to an elegant shine once it dries. 8 oz. container.
You might want to post your question over on rec.crafts.woodturning if you
haven't already. They are the bowl turning experts. My advice is, avoid
sandpaper. You don't need it and you will be altering the original work.
Clean it using a cleaner that you don't mind eating. Dish detergent is okay
but might not be effective. Lemon juice will help cut the grease and some
"looking good" is subjective of course, but I would go for a Proud to be Old
and Well Used look. Leave some patina and scars in place, just go for
sanitary. Adding walnut oil or mineral oil is okay but not necessary. All
it does is add a temporary look and feel which can replenish when desired.
Bare wood is just fine too.
Oh yea, don't soak it in water for lengthy periods. Using lots of water to
clean is fine, just don't soak it all day trying to loosen the gunk. The
wood doesn't like it, and if there are any glue joints (probable), they like
it even less.
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