I have a natural furniture beeswax paste with turpentine in it. I've rubbed the paste into a new cutting board, but I'm wondering the board is safe to cut food on with the turpentine?

  • Did you search "food safe" in the search bar at the top of the page? This is much discussed, and you should find your answer there.
    – user5572
    Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 15:18

2 Answers 2


It should be perfectly safe as far as the solvent goes. Regardless if it's made with all real turpentine or only partly with turps, added for the smell, while partly (or mostly) being another solvent1 (a version of mineral spirits/white spirit/Stoddard solvent) these are volatile organic solvents. Volatile solvents are just that, they evaporate and when they're gone they're gone.

However, this doesn't mean the board would be safe to use after the solvent smell has completely vanished. It's likely that it will be, but random Internet folks can't assure you of this. Often with a query like this there's the recommendation to contact the manufacturer, and generally this is a good idea. Here though, even if there is nothing potentially toxic in the wax polish they may not [be allowed to] tell you it's safe because in this litigious age they can only make a safety claim if they've had the finish tested and certified safe2.

Note: I always include a mention of this when the topic comes up, cutting boards actually don't need to be waxed. or oiled, or treated in any way to be safe or to help them last. This is primarily done for cosmetic reasons, not for safety (even when the claim is the opposite) and furthermore boards, wooden utensils etc. may in fact be safest when left bare..... as long as they're washed as needed of course.

1 Please notice the cynicism here, "natural" and "all natural" etc. labels on products often require zero accountability from the makers and as such can be empty claims. Plus, natural products may not be better or inherently safer — highly relevant in this context, turpentine is indeed a natural product but is actually slightly more toxic than the synthetic solvent now used commonly in its place!

2 Which is why there's now a widespread belief that only certain finishes are food-safe, when in fact the weight of evidence is that all finishes are. See Most durable foodsafe finish to highlight chatoyancy

  • i wish there was a way to make this a sticky note on the main page.
    – aaron
    Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 19:39
  • If you like the waxed look, use beeswax and food-grade mineral oil (which you can generally find at any pharmacy). Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 0:55
  • @LeeDanielCrocker, actually the superior way to wax a board is to melt the wax and apply it molten. I don't like mineral oil used in finishing but actually any oil blended into a harder finish diminishes the strength (and, oddly, the water-resistant quality) of that finish.
    – Graphus
    Commented Apr 11, 2019 at 6:41

It may be difficult to know what exactly is in the turpentine in your product so it is difficult to even determine what residues are left when the turpentine evaporates. Reviews I found on the internet are not clear about toxicity details. I use beeswax mixed 4-1 with medical grade mineral oil (available from any drug store). Just warm the mix up in a sauce pan, stir it into a mix, and once the wax melts pour into a storage bowl and let it cool. The paste is food safe and easy to apply.

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