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Wood Bowl Help

Flavourgirl's picture

I have a large wood bowl I use to toss salad in. Lately, I've noticed that there's a slight "off" smell to the bowl. I've always treated it with mineral oil. Today, I thought I'd try to clean it with half of a lemon and some kosher salt. I scrubbed it with the lemon and salt and then let it set for about 15 minutes, then rinsed it. I can still smell an odor.

Any other suggestions? Should I try the lemon/salt thing more often? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Edited 8/29/2009 10:03 am by Flavourgirl

Gretchen's picture

(post #56531, reply #1 of 48)

I'd flat wash it--with soap. Chances are it is rancid salad oil.  I know very well about treating cutting boards with mineral oil, but don't believe I have ever heard of doing a salad bowl.  If you have treated this often with mineral oil you might even need to use some alcohol on it to remove the mineral oil.

Is this a smooth finish bowl, or sort of rough?

Flavourgirl's picture

(post #56531, reply #2 of 48)

My best guess is I didn't keep it treated well enough with mineral oil and the EVOO soaked in and has gone rancid. I"ve had this for years and it's only recently that I've smelled this. Maybe DD's aren't washing properly?

I'm wondering if the wood would absorb the soap too much if I put it directly on it and scrubbed?? I wouldn't want soapy tasting salad.

Edited 8/29/2009 9:45 am by Flavourgirl

leonap's picture

(post #56531, reply #3 of 48)

I googled because I thought you were supposed to use lemon and salt too. This site says to scrub with lemon and pumice dust and it may require a second scrub.

Marcia's picture

(post #56531, reply #4 of 48)

Pumice dust? That's a new one to me. Good thing I don't have a wooden salad bowl. ;-)

leonap's picture

(post #56531, reply #6 of 48)

New to me as well, but pumice is dusty, no?

Marcia's picture

(post #56531, reply #19 of 48)

I've only seen it in solid form, but it's not all that dense and could easily be ground, I guess. Interesting, though. The things one learns around here just never end. ;-)

leonap's picture

(post #56531, reply #21 of 48)

Well, it might be a product they sell. They did say to use a particular brand of oil, which I'd never heard of and I'm sure they sell. I would imagine the pumice dust would work quite well, although I would try the lemon and salt one more time.

Marcia's picture

(post #56531, reply #22 of 48)

I have visions of pumice dust flying all over the place, but I'm intrigued all the same. ;-)

TracyK's picture

(post #56531, reply #5 of 48)

I think you might need to sand it down and refinish it... that would definitely take care of the odor. By the way, hi!! Haven't seen you in a while, I think.

"Attend to the details. Teach your children manners. Write cogent paragraphs. Drive carefully. And make a good potato salad, one with some crunch, maybe accompanied by a fried drumstick with crackly skin -- the humble potato and the stupid chicken, ennobled by diligent cooking -- and is this not the meaning of our beautiful country, to take what is common and enable it to become beautiful?"

                                                            -- Garrison Keillor

Gretchen's picture

(post #56531, reply #7 of 48)

that's why I asked you about a smooth or rough finish. But I have bought many an old bowl at flea markets, rough interior and washed them FOR sure.  Use a brush and a lot of water. And then dry was well as you can.


Carole4's picture

(post #56531, reply #8 of 48)

Depends upon the wood, as my husband always informs me. Mineral oil should work well with most woods, but some are more porous than others. We have wooden bowls he made years ago, and they are still in good shape and have no odors. Soap and water are the best thing to use. If you want to keep the bowl "smooth" then use mineral oil, but as with all oils, it can go rancid.

Gretchen's picture

(post #56531, reply #9 of 48)

I'm really talking about salad bowls that are really burnished to absolute "smooth"--maybe even having a "finish" on it. i used to have a pretty one from a maker in Kansas.

I am a long time refinisher, not a "woodworker", so do know a little about finishes. I think you are a little mistaken about mineral oil--the reason for using mineral oil on cutting boards (in particular) is that it is a non-drying oil and will not go rancid as will all the vegetable type oils. It will seal, to some extent, a cutting board, so it won't stain so quickly.

But again, I have never heard of using mineral oil on a salad bowl. My mother used to rub her bowl with garlic and then make the dressing in the bowl. But it did get washed at least with water.

Carole4's picture

(post #56531, reply #10 of 48)

I don't want to turn this into a debate about which "oil" is best. I have cutting boards and bowls that husband made back in the 70's and mineral oil is not always the best to refurbish them.

It depends upon what wood the cutting board or bowl is made from. Every wood is different and every wood has different porous propensity and different density. That's all I'm saying.

Doodabug's picture

(post #56531, reply #11 of 48)

Ah The oil debate. I read somewhere that olive oil wouldn't turn rancid and Flavourgirl told me I should have used mineral oil. This is her thread so she can remind me why. Inorganic

Edited 8/28/2009 9:39 pm by Doodabug

Carole4's picture

(post #56531, reply #12 of 48)

I was just reminded by my husband that mineral oil is good. Far be it from me to argue with Flavourgirl.

Napie's picture

(post #56531, reply #13 of 48)

The ones I make get just a bit of mineral oil and bee’s wax.  I just scrub it out with soap and water and let it dry.

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Lee's picture

(post #56531, reply #15 of 48)

They're beautiful.  How large is the big bowl?

Flavourgirl's picture

(post #56531, reply #16 of 48)

Thanks for the input everyone. Kind of surprised about the pumice stone dust. Hmmm.

I have two wood bowls. The smaller one we use for everyday for the 4 of us and it is doing great. This odorous one is bigger and we use only occasionally. When I bought them they would absorb water so I treated like I treat my cutting boards - with mineral oil. Mineral oil is inorganic and won't turn rancid. I replied to Gretchen yesterday that I think I didn't have enough mineral oil on it and it's absorbed some EVOO.

After letting it sit overnight, I did the smell test again and it's faint but still there. I'm going to try the lemon/salt again. DH suggested also adding white vinegar to the mix. Last resort will be to sand it again. I had to sand the one cutting board that Never has onion or garlic cut on it because someone in the house cut onion & garlic on it! No amount of scrubbing would take it out.

I'll keep y'all posted! Thanks for the suggestions.

leonap's picture

(post #56531, reply #17 of 48)

Beautiful! DH makes bowls too. (Could there be a messier hobby???) Are you saying you use mineral oil and beeswax on the same bowl?

Napie's picture

(post #56531, reply #24 of 48)

Yes, I swab the oil on then with the bowl spinning I hold a bar of bee’s wax against it to melt it into the wood due to the friction then buff with a clean cotton rag, it’s a great finish and food safe.  And yes it is messy but I love watching the shaving fly!

Gretchen's picture

(post #56531, reply #30 of 48)

Yes, it is the classic thing used by butchers for their cutting boards.

I just stand by my advice for cutting boards to not use anything but mineral oil, if anything on them. Other oils go rancid


Edited 8/29/2009 12:32 pm ET by Gretchen

leonap's picture

(post #56531, reply #32 of 48)

Yes, mineral oil is the only one that won't go rancid as far as I know.

Flavourgirl's picture

(post #56531, reply #18 of 48)

Beautiful bowls, Napie. I love cherry. Was it easy to work with?

Marcia's picture

(post #56531, reply #20 of 48)

Beautiful bowls... you do good work. Cherry is one of my favorite woods.

Napie's picture

(post #56531, reply #25 of 48)

I have a relationship with a local arborist, when he finds a good log he brings it to my shop, he gets a bowl or rolling pin, etc…   I end up with a real smorgasbord of timbers but cherry, ash and apple are some of my favorites.  I rough turn them and then they go into the loft of the shop to dry for six months to a year.  Then back on the lathe for the final turning and finishing.


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Marcia's picture

(post #56531, reply #26 of 48)

Again, beautiful work. I especially like the spice boxes; they can't be easy to make.

KarenP's picture

(post #56531, reply #31 of 48)

   I get glassy eyed over wood products like some do for other things.  These are beautiful Napie...I've looked at these pieces 4 times so far.

MadMom's picture

(post #56531, reply #23 of 48)

Beautiful!  I'm still using the lovely wooden container you sent me.  Thanks again.

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Doodabug's picture

(post #56531, reply #27 of 48)

The bowls look great. Something I have not tried to do.

I have a small Jet lathe and maybe could do 7 or 8'' diameter on it.

Napie's picture

(post #56531, reply #28 of 48)

Lots of fun and basically they are made from firewood or stuff that would end up in the chipper or landfill.  They’re also pretty fast to make, state to finish on one machine (well I do use a chainsaw and band saw also). I started with a small lathe and it is the best way to learn because it has less power you are forced to use the tools to cut very smoothly to prevent a stall.  I now have three and use them all for various tasks.  We just built this one a few months ago; I copied it from a picture I found on the web.  It’ll handle a pretty big chunk of timber.

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