Food Safe Finishes
by Alan Noel
Professional Wood Finisher

You may remember in my last column that I explained the hazards of lead based paints due to the toy recalls around the holidays of 2007.

Since I am also often asked by my students which finishes are "food safe" and there seems to be an awful lot of confusion concerning finishing materials, I'll explain here which finishes are safe for us to use on our woodworking projects that are to be used in our homes.

Here are the facts:

1. All lead or otherwise-hazardous "metallic dryers" were removed from all stains, paints and finishes in the 1970s.

2. Since all oil based stains and finishes, including "salad bowl" finishes, still contain metallic dryers, the specific metallic dryers being used today are completely non-hazardous.

3. Since all metallic dryers are non hazardous, any wipe on varnish can be used as a "salad bowl" finish or any other commercially available finish.

4. No Material Safety Data Sheet, as required by law, lists any restrictions against contact with food or children's mouths for any finish once the finish is fully cured.

5. Surely, if anyone was ever poisoned by contact with a cured clear finish, it would have been splashed all over the news.

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