Are Wooden Surfaces Safe for Food, or Are They Toxic for Meals?

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    A common question that we hear is, are wooden surfaces safe for food? As organic materials that receive chemical treatments, it’s a valid concern to have. While we can’t speak for all studios, Makers Woodshop ensures that our furniture is safe. Each piece receives treatment with proper drying and storage methods that we have relied on for generations.

    Continue reading to learn about different wooden surfaces and if they are safe for food. Then, find your best selection of custom wood furniture from our Maryland woodshop.

    Are My Natural Wooden Surfaces Safe for Food?

    During the Pandemic, many people took to learning woodworking as a hobby. Even a group of high schoolers led the charge by repurposing old wood bleachers. Those who aren’t fully educated about the possible hazards of raw wood may not know the risks. While making a cutting board from scratch is satisfying, it demands several precautions.

    It’s possible that you could source wood from your backyard, but who knows what’s in it? It could contain pests, bacteria, fungal spores, and other contaminants, meaning it could not be safe. Lumber sourced from mills becomes dried, stored, and treated to prevent harmful contaminants.

    Is Live Edge Wood Safe for Food?

    wooden surfaces safe for food

    Much like natural wood surfaces, live edges are often popular for kitchen products. It’s also a typical project for first-time hobbyists to take and test their skills. One of the most critical steps during the process is applying a food-safe sealer. When people install butcher block counters, mineral oil is often used for sealing the wood against common kitchen moisture.

    Unfortunately, mineral oil doesn’t last long, especially with frequent use and exposure to liquids. This is why many home cooks often purchase a dishwasher-safe, plastic cutting board. Unless you can offer the time and effort to maintain them, avoid wooden cutting boards. They can harbor tons of germs and bacteria, including salmonella, without care and upkeep.

    Finished Wood Furniture

    For many people, their dining room sets are made from wood. Even though glass surfaces are stylish, they’re also much more fragile for daily use. Does that mean that you should eat straight from the table? The EPA has many standards in place, but older furniture might be dangerous.

    There’s a reason why we eat off of ceramic plates, placemats, and other dishes. While furniture products are treated, they also frequently use formaldehyde. A paper plate on your coffee table is likely safe enough for daily eating. Using wood furniture as your plate is probably not the wisest choice.

    Synthetic/Manufactured Wood Sets

    The same recent laws regulating lead in paint also applies to prevent it from being on wood furniture. However, that could mean that older pieces could still contain it. Although you wouldn’t want to use it as firewood, it should be safe for daily use. However, we wouldn’t recommend eating directly from the surface.

    Plenty of different chemicals can be applied during the manufacturing of your wood furniture. In addition to formaldehyde, there are toluene, xylene, methanol, methyl ethyl ketone, and glycol ethers. Particleboard and fiberboard wood products contain higher levels of these chemicals because of the adhesives. Even if you can’t smell them, your home could have above-normal levels of contaminants.

    Keep Your Wooden Surfaces Safe for Food

    applying stain on wood table

    One of the most prominent reasons for contaminated wood furniture is from poor upkeep habits. You may think certain stains or sealers are lovely, but they could be harmful. Only products with food-safe labels should be used on your dining furniture. Otherwise, it can quickly contaminate any foods that land on them.

    Some options are Shellac, which is made from the lac beetle, and is also found in candy. Linseed, tung oil, and mineral oils are all food-safe options that also work well. Paraffin and beeswax also work well as organic, food-safe maintenance products. Just make sure to thoroughly read the label to guarantee that they are pure.

    Are Wooden Utensils Safe for Food?

    Much like with natural wood cutting boards, utensils are also popular kitchen products. Does that mean that they are safe to use when preparing food? In short, the answer is “yes,” but only with proper care. Like with other surfaces, cracked and splintered items can harbor bacteria.

    You’ll need to not only keep them clean but dry and apply mineral oil often. You also can’t put these objects into your dishwasher without ruining them. Some people recommend using diluted bleach, but that can still make you sick. Just clean them thoroughly after making your favorite dish and keep them hydrated with oil.

    Are Outdoor Wooden Surfaces Safe for Food?

    outdoor wood table

    These outdoor surfaces are common sites for picnics, so you have to ask if these wood tables are safe. Unfortunately, the answer is still a confusing “it depends.” Until recently, wood decking, tables, and outdoor playsets contained chromatic copper arsenate, or CCA. Even though  manufacturers have formally discontinued their use, the EPA doesn’t monitor them.

    Another factor is knowing what sealants are best to maintain and protect the surface. Even pressure-treated lumber products could expose your family to carcinogens over time. The ideal way to keep your patio furniture safer for meals is with natural sealant products. Make sure you read each label carefully to minimize your risk.

    Why Our Wooden Surfaces are Safe for Food

    What makes our products so unique is because we rely on natural lumber. As we note on our About page, we do not source from lumber mills. Every piece of wood is cut with a band saw and air dried before putting into our Idry vacuum kiln. Once it’s ready to work with, we sand, fill, and repair the surface. Finally, we finish every piece with all-natural oils and organic waxes. These preserve the surface from scratches without harmful toxins, chemicals, and preservatives. 

    As a team of woodworkers and designers, we know any furniture can become a table. Whatever you choose to eat dinner from, we ensure it is safer for use.

    Buy Wood Furniture That is Safe for Meals, Work, or Studying

    The best way to avoid chemicals in your furniture is to buy from a local shop that can guarantee the wood is safe for you and your family, and is responsibly sourced. Order your next custom furniture piece from Makers Woodshop today.

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