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Can someone share a recipe for a clear (non-yellowing) oil wax wood finish? I’ve made paste wax from 1 part wax to 4 parts boiled linseed oil before but I’d like an option that doesn’t change the colour of the wood. UV protection would be an added bonus.

I’ve heard mineral oil still changes the colour though I haven’t tested. Someone suggested baby oil but I’m concerned about the fragrance that’s added.

I asked on DIY before I knew about here

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  • I just buy my wax premixed, but it is mixed with mineral spirits and I honestly don't see any color changes once it's dried.
    – bowlturner
    Nov 29, 2022 at 14:50
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    Hi, welcome to Woodworking. What do you want it for? Rather than just look for recipes (of which there are dozens, if not more) consider what your intended purpose is and go from there. In the meantime, search the forum for "baby oil", "mineral oil" and "paste wax". You're going to find quite a lot!
    – Graphus
    Nov 29, 2022 at 16:21
  • Baby oil is just mineral oil with fragrance added.
    – gnicko
    Nov 30, 2022 at 23:31

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Can someone share a recipe for a clear (non-yellowing) oil wax wood finish?

but I’d like an option that doesn’t change the colour of the wood.

These two things are mutually exclusive.

Virtually all finishes change the colouring of wood at least a little1. When people talk about finishes and say something "doesn't change the colour of the wood" they generally mean by much, not at all.

Any finish that contains oil will wet the wood, which results in some colour change. The initial effect is very close to or exactly the same as if you wipe on water or white spirits, although with oil the effect is not transitory as it is with something that evaporates.

I’ve heard mineral oil still changes the colour though I haven’t tested.

If you have any version of mineral oil in the house (see next point) just go add some to some scraps.

Someone suggested baby oil but I’m concerned about the fragrance that’s added.

Baby oil2 is merely a light fraction of mineral oil. A useful way of thinking about it is as a progression from heavy to light: paraffin wax - petroleum jelly - liquid paraffin (that's the original name for mineral oil in the UK) - baby oil.

The fragrance is generally a non-issue in the long term because it will soon dissipate, except in an enclosed space such as a box or drawer interior where it can linger for longer.


I’ve made paste wax from 1 part wax to 4 parts boiled linseed oil

That's not paste wax, that's an oil/wax blend. It's important to distinguish the two things because they are different, but most importantly they act quite differently.

Paste wax is a wax, or mixture of waxes, dissolved in a solvent of some kind.

The solvent component (which used to be turpentine but is now usually some version of white spirit/mineral spirits) is just to soften the final product3 and make it easier to apply; after evaporation all that is left on the surface is wax.

A true paste wax does most of what you want, it changes the colouring of wood minimally (this does depend a little on the waxes used) and is non-yellowing because waxes are very stable, but wax by itself is not a good standalone finish for wood because it provides minimal protection from water, almost no protection from scratches and scrapes and zero protection from dings and dents.

The chief role of paste wax has always been that of a furniture polish and that is still where it shines. Pun intended :-)


1 Which is generally a good thing, because bare sanded wood doesn't generally look that great.

2 There are baby oils sold today that aren't based on a petroleum distillate. Various oils of vegetable origin are used instead, but note they are bleached/decolourised to match the consumer expectation of what baby oil looks like!

3 To any consistency from somewhat like butter on a cold day all the way to a sloppy semi-liquid mix, but most favour a consistency somewhere in the middle (which is where the majority of commercial paste waxes lie).

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  • Thanks, very informative. So given most of the time I'll need some protection and am willing to accept some colour change (just avoiding yellowing) what oil/wax would you recommend? Or should I be applying oil then wax rather than combining them? Nov 30, 2022 at 12:02
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    "Or should I be applying oil then wax rather than combining them?" That's a very apt question because I very much think the answer is yes (most of the time). And that is assuming you use one or both, there are many (mostly better) finishing options that don't rely on either. But it comes back to what I asked initially, what's this for? For a higher level of protection and potentially almost zero colour change a waterbased finish is now the almost universal choice among leisure woodworkers, and a good number of professionals too, because they are "water white" or crystal clear.
    – Graphus
    Dec 1, 2022 at 14:51

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