Best Food-Grade Mineral Oil

Updated October 2021
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
18 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
200 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best food-grade mineral oil

List all of the care products you can use on your skin, hair, cast iron pan, wooden cutting board, carving knife, and garden tools. It’s a safe bet that it’s a short list, but one thing that is on that list is food-grade mineral oil.

Also known as white oil, food-grade mineral oil is a multipurpose lubricant that has no taste, no color, and no odor. It is nontoxic, stable at room temperature, and doesn’t spoil. Food-grade mineral oil has many pharmaceutical, industrial, and personal care applications. It smooths, lubricates, softens, restores moisture, and protects surfaces, and food-grade mineral oil is pure enough to use in the kitchen and on your body. 

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There are few things more delicate than a baby’s skin. Baby oil is about 98% mineral oil plus some added fragrance.

Key considerations

What is mineral oil?

Mineral oil is made up of open-chain hydrocarbons and is a byproduct of petroleum distillation. It’s important to note that not all mineral oil is safe for human consumption. There are three types of mineral oil:

Paraffinic: This mineral oil contains paraffin wax. It’s used as a lubricant, it resists oxidation, and it’s used in the cosmetics, paper, textile, and rubber industries. This is the type of mineral oil discussed here. 

Naphthenic: This mineral oil contains no paraffin. It is used in manufacturing.

Aromatic: This mineral oil is used in the processing of rubber for tires. 

Food-grade mineral oil

This type of mineral oil is highly refined, colorless, odorless, flavorless, and safe for human consumption. It is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for cosmetic and personal care uses as well as a food additive. It is also a nondrying oil that will not solidify (polymerize) over time when exposed to air. Unlike vegetable oil, it won’t go rancid, so it will last a long time if stored properly.

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Did you know?
You might find mineral oil in cosmetics labeled as “paraffin,” “microcrystalline wax,” “petrolatum,” or “synthetic wax,” among other names.

Uses for food-grade mineral oil

You might be surprised by the variety of uses for this versatile oil.


Knives, high temperatures, soap, and water can all wreak havoc on wooden surfaces as they begin to wear out, grow dull, and warp. Mineral oil penetrates wood to protect it from water damage, prevent it from drying, cracking, or warping, and restore the finish. The oil brings out the grain and hydrates the wood. It has no smell or flavor, which is desirable for many applications in the kitchen. A treated cutting board prevents liquids like juice or blood from penetrating the wood, which means fewer germs and bacteria.

Use it to restore bamboo and other wooden cutting boards, butcher blocks (which need a low-viscosity oil that penetrates deeply), cheese servers, (unvarnished) wooden tables and islands, salad bowls and servers, rolling pins, pizza peels, serving trays, and outdoor wooden furniture, such as teak. 


Cast iron: Use food-grade mineral oil to season cast iron cookware by rubbing a small amount into the hot pan. 

Blades: Rub it on metal knives, razor blades, and kitchen shears to prevent rust. 

Appliances: Lubricate a meat grinder or food slicer. 

Stainless steel: Polish stainless steel appliances and counters for a streak-free, food-safe, nonsticky barrier that doesn’t evaporate and helps keep the surfaces from collecting germs and bacteria. 

Steel tools: Clean, condition, and winterize your metal gardening tools.

Skin, hair, and body

Skin: Mineral oil is a humectant, which means it helps skin retain water. Use it to treat dry, cracked, or sensitive skin or conditions like eczema or psoriasis. It is noncomedogenic, so it won’t clog pores. Mineral oil can treat some scalp conditions such as dandruff and cradle cap. Food-grade mineral oil is a fragrance-free baby oil substitute for use on diaper rash. 

Hair: Rub a couple of drops of mineral oil in your hands and smooth into hair to tame flyaway frizz. 

Body: Mineral oil has long been used as a natural laxative to help soften stool.  

Counters and sinks

Use food-grade mineral oil to develop a rich patina and enhance the beauty of soapstone sinks and countertops. The oil will also help granite countertops darken evenly, while other types of oil like citrus or linseed can cause granite to discolor. Many products made specifically for counters include mineral oil. Use it to refurbish and seal marble and slate, too.


Use mineral oil to remove latex or oil paint from skin or stickers from surfaces. Use it to remove oil-based makeup. Some consumers have even used it to remove tile adhesive by applying a layer of oil, letting it sit for half an hour and then scraping up the glue. 

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Did you know?
There are various opinions about caring for metal. In addition to mineral oil, some people use olive oil while others use flaxseed oil.


Other ingredients

You will find some food-grade mineral oil that contains added ingredients, such as vitamin E, or added fragrance from essential oils, such as rosemary, lemon, or lavender. While a lavender scent may be fine for the mineral oil you use to remove eye makeup or rub on your skin, it may not be appropriate for use on your cutting board. 


Look for assurances of quality with labels like USP Verified, which tells you that the product contains the ingredients on the label, or NSF Certified, which tells you that the producer of the mineral oil uses raw materials that are safe and approved by the FDA. 

You can also find food-grade mineral oil labeled as organic, kosher, and/or not tested on animals if those qualities are important to you. 


You can find containers of food-grade mineral oil that hold from 8 to 128 fluid ounces. There are squeeze bottles, aluminum (nonaerosol) spray bottles, and bottles with a pump dispenser to make it easy to get the right amount. Note that if you buy in bulk, the large jugs are harder to use, especially if you only want a small amount of oil at a time. If you want a large jug, look for one with an ergonomic handle for easier gripping and carrying. 

Store your food-grade mineral oil in a cool, dry cupboard or other darkened area out of direct sunlight.


Cutting board cleaner: Howard Products Cutting Board Cleaner
This liquid soap, made especially for cutting boards and other wooden items in the kitchen, uses coconut soap and lemon oil to clean the wood and neutralize odors without the use of harsh chemicals. 

Kitchen knives: Mercer Culinary Renaissance Knife Block Set
Show off your beautifully oiled knives in this clear tempered-glass block. The set of six high-carbon steel kitchen knives for all your slicing and dicing needs are NSF Certified. 

Food-grade mineral oil prices

Food-grade mineral oil costs about $1 per ounce in smaller bottles of 8 to 16 ounces. If you want to buy in bulk, such as a 32-ounce jug, you’ll pay about half that, around $0.45 per ounce. Since mineral oil doesn’t go bad if you store it properly, it’s okay to stock up if you use it often. 


  • Safety first. Do not apply mineral oil to open wounds, including cuts and burns. If you get mineral oil in your eyes, rinse your eyes immediately and get medical help. Inhaling mineral oil can irritate the lungs.

  • Care for your cuticles. During your next home manicure, massage a little mineral oil into your cuticles to help soften and condition the skin.

  • Do a spot check on wood first. Rub a little mineral oil in an inconspicuous place. Some furniture may have a coating or finish that prevents the oil from absorbing into the wood.

  • Beautify your wooden kitchen utensils and surfaces. Apply mineral oil to cutting boards and other frequently used surfaces after every few washes or every few weeks. Wash the board, apply a generous amount of oil, and let it absorb for a couple of hours. If the wood is very dry, you might need to reapply the oil several times over 24 hours. Wipe off the excess oil. If desired, apply a cutting board wax to protect the finish.

  • Do not ingest mineral oil within two hours of a meal. It can interfere with vitamin absorption. Consult your doctor before taking mineral oil as a laxative. 

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Note that mineral oil doesn’t “clean” metal surfaces — it doesn’t kill bacteria — but it will help keep metal from oxidizing.


Q. Can’t I just use olive oil or corn oil on my cutting board?
A. No. You should never use any type of vegetable oil to maintain your cutting board, butcher block, or any other wooden items you use with food. These types of oil turn rancid, which can impart bad smells and tastes to the food prepared on the board or in that nice wooden salad bowl. They also get sticky, which is not a desirable quality in a cutting board or salad bowl.

Q. It’s oil! Won’t mineral oil cause my skin to break out?
A. While mineral oil can cause problems for some people, for most people it shouldn’t. Cosmetic- or pharmaceutical-grade mineral oil has been found to be non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog pores. 

Q. Can I put my wooden cutting board in the dishwasher?
A. Only if you don’t like it. The high temperature and water will damage the board, perhaps breaking it apart if the board is made up of pieces that are glued together. To clean your wooden cutting board, use hot water, a bit of dish soap, and a soft brush. Don’t immerse the board in the water. Wipe the board with a clean towel and stand it up lengthwise to dry. There are also special soaps made from olive oil, lemon oil, coconut oil, and other ingredients that will safely clean and help maintain the wooden items in your kitchen.

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