How To Properly Use Mineral Oil For Wood

There are so many different types of oils that you can use at home. Some are for cooking, some for therapeutic reasons, and other oils are used for making wooded shine. Mineral oil is one of those types of oils. 

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You can use mineral oil for a lot of different reasons, but today, we’re primarily going to talk about how to use mineral oil for wood. You may just find that it is the answer to all of your problems with other wood finishes. 

What Is Mineral Oil?

Because mineral oil is a broad term used to describe any of various colorless, odorless oils of higher alkanes it can be difficult to pinpoint what it is unless labeled. However, you can get many different kinds of mineral oil that read mineral oil on the label.

Most mineral oil is a liquid by-product of refining crude oil to make gasoline and other petroleum products. Though mineral oil is often used for health reasons, as a laxative, it can also be used for many other reasons. 

Mineral Oil For Wood

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Mineral oil is one of the least controversial types of oil and is often used on wood to create a shine like no other. It can be used in the kitchen because you can buy food-grade mineral oil that’s purpose is to be used on kitchen surfaces.

When applied to wood, mineral oil leaves a clear finish which means a natural look and a little shine to top it off. This is perfect because there are no perfumes added and it won’t give off any odors either. It is considered scentless. 

Is Mineral Oil Safe?

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Mineral oil is more than just safe, mineral oil for wood is non-toxic, yes, but it also adds benefits when used on wood. Mineral oil fills pores in wooden surfaces which will create a tight and even surface.

Not only does this prevent splintering but it also deters food and liquids that can make their way into the pores. Without this process, the wood won’t be able to grow mold or bacteria, yet can still be washed as usual. 

It’s not a good idea to consume mineral oil without asking your doctor, and you should never inhale it. However, using it on your furniture or wooden items is a good idea and can cause no health problems, so go ahead and try it! 

Mineral Oil Vs. Varnish

Many people argue that varnish gives your wood a higher-end look and is just better than mineral oil for wood. But both mineral oil and varnish have their own pros and cons. Let’s take a look at those benefits now. 

Varnish

Varnishing is more popular than mineral oil overall when it comes to wooden furniture. It is fairly cheap, easy to apply, and is amazing at preventing stains. But that doesn’t mean it’s perfect nor better than mineral oil. 

Varnish can be colored to create any type of stain that you want, however, that color can fade over time. It can also crack, peel, and be worn down. This means you’ll have to sand the whole piece and reapply varnish to repair it. 

That said, if the piece is taken care of, there’s a good chance the varnish never needs to be retouched. Varnish can last decades in the right conditions. 

Mineral Oil

Mineral oil makes the wood more durable and resistant to stains. It is easy to apply but may require some buffing for the full effect. However, the protection that it can give can balance that out, despite it needed to be redone regularly. 

Another thing good about mineral oil is that it is very safe for kids, even before it is applied. While drinking the oil isn’t recommended, it won’t harm a child or pet as straight varnish will. So having it around isn’t a bad thing. 

How To Apply Mineral Oil

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Applying paint and varnish is fairly straightforward. You simply brush it on and let it dry. But applying mineral oil may not be as easy if you’ve never done it before. Here is how you can apply mineral oil to wood surfaces. 

Step 1: Clean The Wood

It’s a good idea to clean the wood very well before applying anything else. After you clean them with soap, you can use lemon and salt to scrub them down and remove any residue. After you do this, let the wood dry.

Step 2: Apply The Oil

Using a clean, soft cloth, apply the oil in an even layer over the wood. You can rub it lightly as if you are washing a fragile dish. But you don’t want to disrupt the process too much. You should just be adding the mineral oil. 

Step 3: Let It Soak

Let the oil soak in for at least a few hours. But if you have the time, it’s a good idea to let it set overnight. This will give the mineral oil plenty of time to soak into the pores and cover them, which is half the reason to use mineral oil in the first place. 

Step 4: Remove Excess And Buff

When you wake up, you can remove any pooling or puddling oil with a dry cloth. Then, using that same cloth, unless it is soaked, buff the wood in small circles. It should begin shining but should still remain slightly damp. 

Adding Beeswax 

This is a good idea for any type of oiling project for wood, but since it is so safe, it can even be used on mineral oil mixtures. Add a little beeswax to make your oil last longer and buff the wood for an even shiner surface. 

How Often Should You Use Mineral Oil For Wood?

This depends on what the wood is used for and how often it is used. For cutting boards and wooden utensils, giving them good oiling once a month is ideal. But again, it all depends on how often they are used. 

The easiest way to tell how often to oil wood is to keep an eye on it. When the surface begins to fade and become dry, then you can oil it again. Sometimes this is once a year, other times it’s once a week. 

Other Home Uses For Mineral Oil

Though mineral oil has dozens of uses in the health world for your body, it also has quite a few uses for your home. Here are the most common ways to use mineral oil in your home.

Uses For Mineral Oil 

  • Floor Creaks – what better way to get rid of floor creaks than with oil? Mineral oil is perfect for floor creaks that are annoying. Just pour a little in the affected area and wipe up the excess after it soaks in. 
  • WD-40 Stand-in – mineral oil can be used just like WD-40 in many ways. The most common way is to get rid of pesky door creaks that wake family members and give them headaches. Pour them on hinges and hear the creak disappear. 
  • Protect Tools – you can use mineral oil on both metal and wooden tools to keep them from rotting or rusting. You can even apply a thick layer if you plan on leaving them in storage for a while.
  • Clean Kitchen Knives – mineral oil can protect knives from moisture. Why? Because water and oil don’t mix. Since mineral oil is safe to use in any case, it’s the perfect oil to use to protect knives from rust or sharpening stones.
  • Polish Steel – you can use mineral oil to polish stainless steel. Yep, that means no more buying expensive metal polishers because mineral oil can do the same work for a fraction of the price.
  • Polish Linoleum – you can polish linoleum floors and countertops with mineral oil. Just be careful and dry any excess oil from floors as it could pose a serious slipping hazard. It’s not recommended to use this with the elderly or children.
  • Untangle Necklaces – rather than fitting a tangled piece of jewelry for hours, all you need to do is pour some mineral oil on it and start sliding the knot out. This can be a lifesaver for parents of kids with messy jewelry boxes. 

Mineral Oil Project For Inspiration: DIY Retro Rainbow Wooden Dresser

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Looking for an example of how to apply mineral oil to furniture? This project is the perfect example. It turns out amazing and that is primarily due to two things: the talented DIYer and a little bit of mineral oil.

This project starts with creating a large frame that will be used to add drawers. Supports for the drawers are added and the drawers are created separately. While the project isn’t for beginners, it’s a good example of what a more advanced DIYer can do.

If the painting is what is holding you back, you can forgo that part and try mineral oil instead. Finishing wood with mineral oil isn’t difficult. Use the same technique described earlier and buff the wood every few months! 

Is Mineral Oil Right For Me?

Mineral oil is a harmless substance when used on wood. Though it may not work as strongly as varnish does, it is a good option if you want something more natural that is harmless even when in its raw form.

Mineral oil can be a lifesaver for cutting boards prone to gathering bacteria and wood furniture that needs a bit of shine every once in a while. It’s also great for furniture that the varnish just won’t stick to. 

If you’re still on the fence about it, you can rest assured that mineral oil is not permamant. It can be washed away any time and will eventually fade on its own. So using it can be a risk-free trial or a lifetime journey.