If you've looked at a woodworking magazine, watched anything wood-related on YouTube, or just browsed anything on the internet related to woodworking, you've probably come across Odie's Oil. It's advertised as a zero-VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds), solvent-free, toxic chemical-free, interior/exterior use, UV-inhibiting, food-safe finish and protectant that can be applied without gloves or respirators, works with a wide range of materials (not just wood), and smells nice, too. Because there are no solvents, (almost) nothing evaporates during curing, which means a little bit supposedly goes a very long way – they advertise coverage rates of ~190 sq. ft (~17.6 m2) per 9 oz./266 ml jar, up to 20 times greater than other (unnamed) finishes.
Application is supposed to be very easy, as well. The manufacturer recommends applying with a Scotch-Brite™ pad at a higher grit than the highest level of sanding (I've seen the white pad used frequently, as I believe it's the highest grit available) and rubbing it into the grain, leaving the surface wet. I've also seen it applied using a credit card or or similar applicator and just wiped onto the surface. It should be checked 40-60 minutes later and reapplied to spots where it has completely absorbed. It can be left for some indeterminate amount of time, measured in hours, then buffed off. I've heard you can use the same type of pad as was used to apply it, and I've also heard that you should use terry cloth. I assume buffing wheels or pads could also be used, as long as they don't become saturated. New/additional coats or repairs can be applied directly on top, without any stripping, sanding, or scratching required. One of the only downsides is that it takes 2-3 weeks before it's fully cured.
So, it sounds like great stuff, and purportedly has been used for "decades" on hardwood floors. However, it's rather pricy – a 9 oz./266 ml jar currently costs about $45 (plus shipping) direct from the manufacturer in the US and £65.99 on Amazon in the UK. It also seems to be one of those products that inspires very strong opinions in people. I've read articles and watched videos where people swear by it, practically claiming it's the greatest thing since sliced bread, and showing it beating out all sorts of other finishes in various tests. However, I've also seen a lot of naysayers, questioning its price, durability, and composition – that it can be substituted by using cheaper components.
My basic question is for people who've actually used the stuff: is it all it's promoted to be? Is the coverage really as good as they say? What are the caveats for application? How durable is it long-term, and is it really waterproof (spills, not submersion)? Specifically for my initial intended project, a desk for a teenager, how does it look on highly-figured closed grain wood like birdseye maple, as opposed to a more traditional boiled linseed oil and polyurethane finish? And if you're not a big fan of it, what would you recommend in its place?