In woodworking, the safety of finishes on wood surfaces is a concern. I understand the significance of using products that are not only effective but also safe for you and your family.
Whether you’re finishing a dining table, a kitchen countertop, or a cutting board, this guide will provide you with the essential information to ensure your projects are both beautiful and safe for food contact.
Yes, Rubio Monocoat is food safe when applied correctly and fully cured. It’s made of hard-wax and linseed oil, containing no hazardous components, making it suitable for food contact surfaces.
What is Rubio Monocoat Made Of?
Rubio Monocoat is a hard-wax and linseed oil wood finish that contains no dual-use additives that effectively colors and protects wood surfaces in a single application.
It bonds at the molecular level with the topmost microns on the wood surface while also penetrating the wood deeply and offering protection from heat, water, and foot traffic when used to finish hardwood flooring. It is also 100% VOC-free. VOCs are volatile organic compounds found in products we regularly use in building homes. Once in our homes, they are released into the air we breathe.
Is Rubio Monocoat Food Compliant?
Regulations require that materials that will or are likely to be brought into contact with food must not transfer to the food anything that could endanger human health.
Rubio Monocoat Oil’s chemical composition, primarily hard-wax and linseed oil, is comprised of components that are not hazardous – meaning that nothing toxic, poisonous, carcinogenic, or dangerous to reproduction are used in its production.
Linseed oil, also known as flax oil or flaxseed oil in its edible form, comes from the dried, ripened seeds of the flax plant. While you would not ingest Rubio Monocoat, its natural constituent part, linseed oil, in its purest form, is not toxic.
An Independent Testing Institute, Eurofins, conducted a review of Rubio Monocoat Oil and found it to be food compliant when applied properly and allowed to dry and cure fully before use. While Rubio does not expect Monocoat Oil to be ingested, it has asserted a Declaration of Compliance for food safety as a result of that independent test.
That Declaration of Compliance can be found here if you are interested in reading it.
It is important to note that this compliance declaration and the testing that led to it are dependent on a proper application of Rubio Monocoat Oil.
How To Properly Apply Rubio Monocoat Oil
As we have written before, it’s an easy and fast application process. A thorough cleaning is especially important before applying the finish, though. Since Rubio Monocoat bonds with wood molecules, all saw dust must be removed from the surface being treated.
A thorough sanding with 150-grit sandpaper is adequate. A water-blooming is also helpful – spraying water on the surface to raise the grain, followed by another sanding to create the smooth surface you want.
While Rubio does offer a cleaning product after sanding, mineral spirits will also work well. The Rubio cleaning product is much more expensive than mineral spirits, and you can save money to get the same results.
The mix ratio is 3 parts oil to 1 part accelerator. You want to use the accelerator, too – it cuts down cure time from 3 weeks to 7 days. You should make only enough for your project’s need, as the mixture does not have a long shelf life. A foam brush, a Scotch Brite white pad, or a plastic paddle will be suitable to apply the mixture and don’t apply to any more surfaces than you can finish within 15 minutes because after that, any excess is difficult to remove.
Once you’ve finished applying the coat, buff with a white pad on a sander to:
- Spread it evenly over the entire surface; and,
- Driving it deeper into the wood.
After the wood has absorbed its limit of oil, the excess will simply sit on the surface and, after a while, will become gummy and tacky. Use a small buffer to remove the excess, and a clean cloth will take care of anything the buffer misses.
Allow sufficient time for the application to both dry and cure. Workpieces and flooring should not be touched or walked upon for at least 24-36 hours, and the cure time with the accelerator added is 7 days.
Here’s a video that takes a look one year later at a dining table that was finished with Rubio Monocoat. Interestingly, while Rubio Monocoat protects against heat and water, it does not protect against a Sharpie in the hands of a one year old.
Is It Safe To Use Rubio Monocoat on Wooden Surfaces in Your Kitchen?
This is a different question than whether Rubio Monocoat is food safe. Tests conducted on the product establish it is food safe compliant. Linseed oil is a plant-based oil finish that has been used for centuries.
It can be used safely on food contact surfaces. So, countertops (with a caveat), serving trays and platters, and charcuterie boards, may be finished with Rubio Monocoat safely.
We say “with a caveat” about countertops for the same reason we recommend you not use it on cutting boards.
Cutting boards and countertops, if you chop or cut foods on them, though, would not be safe, but not because of the oil. Since Rubio Monocoat bonds with the topmost wood fibers, and knives can cut deeper than it can penetrate, raw wood can be exposed and susceptible to the development of mold or bacterial growth. It protects against heat and water, as well as foot traffic on wood floors, but not against a cut or a chip that could allow some contamination in the wood.
Fortunately, damage to a wood surface that has been finished with Rubio Monocoat is easy to repair and does not require the removal of all finish oil to resurface the wood. Simply sand down the area damaged and apply a new coat of Rubio Monocoat only to the affected area. A little buff and the piece of furniture or wood floor is as good as it was before the damage. Buffing to the same sheen blends the affected area to its surroundings, and the piece will show no signs of having been damaged in the first place.
If you follow the application process and allow a full dry and cure time on your kitchen counter, serving tray, or charcuterie platter, your wood surfaces are food safe. Just don’t cut or chop on your wood countertops, and don’t use a cutting board that has been finished with Rubio Monocoat.