This is my story about how I stopped using mineral oil.
One time I went to Hawai’i (who doesn’t love Hawai’i??) and I purchased a locally made sunscreen. I don’t really like sunscreen. It feels disgusting, but this stuff was different, made with natural oils n things. On the back of the container, it mentioned how Hawai’i is banning sunscreens that are harmful to the ocean life. This piqued my interest and I looked into it further.
Is it safe?
One of the most common chemicals in sunscreen is mineral oil. This clear, inexpensive, “food safe” oil is a petroleum product. The most common hazard of manufactured chemicals is their ability to last almost forever (like plastics, for example). Mineral oil will deposit onto the coral reef and kill them off, which consequentially kills all other oceanic wildlife as well.
There’s more. Mineral oil isn’t really “food safe”, but more like “generally regarded as safe”. You wouldn’t drink a whole cup of it, would you? You might want to stay by the bathroom if you try it. Investigating mineral oil for woodwork, we know it never dries. Wood with mineral oil will always be oily, until the oil is washed away (and that’s when you need to add more oil).
I now use more natural sunscreens for the fishes, and my skin. Yes, I check the ingredients. Mineral oil for cutting boards (typically called butcher block oil) is not even a good option. “Drying” oils are natural, and they will “dry”, which seals into the wood for longer protection. I now use flax oil (yes, the stuff at the grocery store!), also known as linseed oil in some cases. Walnut oil is another great option. Mix in a little flax oil with beeswax and it becomes waterproof and anti-bacterial too. I now use this mixture for coating cutting boards, cast iron pans, oiling my leather boots, and for dry skin in the winter.
Some people like to focus on the price difference. Eventually, I realized how the price at the checkout is not my only cost, and then the choice was clear. No more mineral oil.