Old World Kitchen Blog

why you shouldn't be using mineral oil to condition your dreamware {and why you should use olive oil instead}

We get frequent questions about our use of olive oil to seal our handmade wooden spoons and kitchen utensils. Some people want to make sure that we are using it. Some customers want to know why we use it. And we've even had a few people request that we send their dreamware un-sealed, so that they can apply the oil of their choice {and we're always happy to oblige them}. 

Olive Oil

It seems there is a lot of misinformation swirling around the web about the evils of using olive oil to condition wood, and the marvelous benefits of using mineral oil. Today, I'd like to bust some of those myths and explain why we're pretty dedicated to always using olive oil to seal our utensils, and why we won't ever use mineral oil. I don't want to turn this into a novel, so I'm going to address the pros and {perceived } cons blow by blow in bullet point form.

So why do we use olive oil and why don't we use mineral oil?

  1. Olive oil is really good for you. I think we can all agree about that. But what you may not know is that mineral oil... the commonly used substance for sealing and conditioning wood... is not good for you. In fact, it contains carcinogens and has been linked to cancer. This information shouldn't surprise us when we learn that mineral oil is actually a petroleum by-product. We don't feel comfortable bringing this substance into our kitchen, and we won't use it to seal utensils that you'll be using in yours. We care about your health, and the health of those you love. We encourage you to do your own research about the concerns surrounding mineral oil and the benefits of olive oil. 

  2. Olive oil works amazingly! Every bit as well as mineral oil. We seal our utensils with our signature "spoon butter" we whip up in small batches. It contains only two ingredients, 100% natural beeswax and extra-virgin olive oil, and it yields fantastic results. We encourage our customers to keep their dreamware conditioned by rubbing down occasionally with olive oil. 

  3. Olive oil does NOT go rancid on wood under normal conditions. This is a very publicized myth that we cannot understand for the life of us. It's also the most common argument used in favor of conditioning with mineral oil. We constantly hear of cooks with handmade wooden spoon collections that will soon reach antique status, who have always and only used olive oil to condition their wood utensils- without a HINT of rancidity. We have also always used olive oil, and we've never ever had a utensil become rancid... under any condition. There are two situations we've pin-pointed that may lead to olive oil rancidity on wood: a.) when the utensils are seldomly used but frequently oiled, or b.) when utensils are oiled while still damp from washing. Thats it. Avoid those two problematic habits and you won't have any issues. 

  4. Olive oil is something you'll find in virtually every kitchen! It just suits our sensibility very well to use and recommend something that you probably already have on hand. 

So there you have it! The four basic reasons why we started out using olive oil to seal our utensils and why we plan to keep it that way. I hope this proves to be helpful information to you. See you next time!

Warmly,

Loran, for the rest of the Polder Family