Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday the 13: Joy Luck Wood Polish?

Polish without Petrol

For sprucing up and protecting your wood furniture, cutting boards and salad bowls, here are some greener, healthier alternatives to petroleum-based synthetic oils and fragrances.

Wood Furniture

Gently refresh finished wood by mixing a few drops of lemon essential oil and white vinegar in a cup of warm water, and applying with a soft clean rag. Available at your local natural food stores, or at, where a half-ounce of organic lemon essential oil is $4.20, and a half-ounce of conventional lemon oil is $3.19. Unfinished wood is simpler yet--clean and polish with a half-olive-oil and half-lemon-juice or half-white-vinegar solution. Try different combinations until you come up with one you personally like–for instance, Annie Berthold Bond, author of many green living books including Home Enlightenment, likes jojoba oil. Not in a mixing mood? My Hawaiian koa wood jewelry box has had its glow renewed by Caldrea’s Lavender & Pine Wood Furniture Cream for finished wood, based on lemon balm, jojoba oil, beeswax, carnauba wax and vinegar, and fragranced with essential oils of lavender, pine needle and cedarwood. No toxic phthalates (see Daily Tips for April 9 and 10 at About $10 at some pharmacies, home improvement stores or Wood Salad Bowls, Cutting Boards Food-grade oils are the rule for conditioning wood food prep surfaces or containers, but most salad oils will turn rancid–not to mention sticky and gummy, as happened with the lovely koa salad bowl I inherited from Grammy Nez Pennybacker. Food-grade mineral oil won’t degrade, but it is made from petroleum. To the rescue: Green home diva Debra Lynn Dadd, author of Home, Safe Home, who recommends walnut oil, which will not rancify. Plus, it’s delicious and full of omega-3 fatty acids, so use liberally on your salad! Caution: Natural or not, cleaning solutions should be kept out of the reach of children, as everything from petrochemicals to pure plant essential oils can be toxic if ingested. Please share this and other free tips with your friends, who can subscribe at

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