Woodworking projects for kids are a frequent item in my shop. One of the challenges, especially on wooden toys for babies and toddlers, is how to finish and protect the wooden toy in a safe non-toxic manner. A classic kid safe wood finish consists of mixing beeswax into mineral oil. Both of the “ingredients” are safe and non toxic so if the little ones chew or teethe on their wooden toy there is no need to be concerned for their health. This makes it the ideal kid safe wood finish.
The first step to make our safe non-toxic wood finish is to finely shave some of a beeswax block. Beeswax is not as common as it once was in local stores. I order mine as I use it often for woodworking but small 1oz packages are available at Ace Hardware stores still. I shave the beeswax on a piece of kraft paper to help contain the sticky wax shavings. This makes clean up after the project easier. Into a single pint of mineral oil (available at most pharmacies) add a well packed slightly heaping one half cup of beeswax shavings.
The next step in making the non-toxic wood finish is to pour the pint of mineral oil into a pan. I have some heavy gauge stainless pans purchased at a yardsale that I use for project “cooking”. Then add the packed half cup of beeswax shavings. Using the low setting on your cooktop, slowly heat up the mixture. Be sure to stir constantly. It should looks like the left upper photo after you mix in your beeswax shavings. As soon as the wax is completely dissolved remove your mixture from heat. The solution of wax in mineral oil turns clear as in the upper right photo when it is time to remove from the heat. You do not want to add more heat then it takes to melt all of your beeswax into the oil.
To store your child safe non-toxic wood finish, pour it while still warm into a large glass jar. You can use the finish immediately as a warm liquid, but as it cools it turns into a soft brushable paste. Application is very easy. Simply brush on a liberal coating to your wood project and let the finish soak into the wood for 10 minutes. Then buff with soft cotton cloth to remove any excess finish. The little baby rattle toy was the purpose behind this batch of kidsafe wood finish. The little dinosaur baby rattle is available at my etsy shop for purchase along with a fish rattle and flower rattle. They have been kid tested and mother approved.
The cooled finish is a soft brush-able paste. If you leave it in a sunny window on a warm day it will liquify again if you prefer to use it that way. I’ve found no discernible difference between using it as a paste or a liquid on wooden toys. I like to let this finish sit on the toy for at least 24 hours before I buff it out to a soft natural look while removing any excess with a soft cotton cloth.