February 28, 2023

Food-safe wood dye

If you are coloring wood that will come in contact with food or beverages, you must use a food-safe wood dye that is safe and odorless. The right dye can not only improve the appearance of the wood but also make it safe for long-term use. Food safe wood paint has many uses, including furniture, cutting boards, bowls and other kitchen utensils.

One use case for food-grade wood dye is cutting boards. The dye can help improve the board’s appearance while making it safer for food preparation. When applying the dye, it is important to consider the type of wood being used and the application method to ensure that the dye is safe and uniform.

Another use case for food-safe wood dye is in bowls and other kitchen utensils. The dye can help enhance the beauty of the wood while also making it safer for use in food preparation. When applying the dye, it is important to ensure it is safe and doesn’t leave any toxic residue that can harm the food or the user.

Food-grade wood paint is also suitable for furniture, such as dining tables, chairs and cabinets. The paint can help improve the appearance of furniture and make it safer for long-term use. It would be best if you chose the right paint that is safe and odorless so that the furniture will be safe for the long term.

Types of wood dye

Water-based wood dye

Water-based dye is more versatile as it comes in multiple colors and can achieve any desired color. Water-based stains are environmentally friendly. They are safe to use in all environments. These are safer than other stains and do not fade when exposed to sunlight.


  • No Smell
  • More color selection without the solvent hazards
  • It dries quickly
  • Saves time
  • Low odor


  • The wood grain can lift if too much water-based wood stain is applied.
  • Water-based wood stains can dry quickly and not allow enough time to create an even finish.

Liberon Palette Wood Dye

It is ideal for staining and coloring any woodwork around the home. It leaves the beauty of the grain visible. Palette Wood Dyes are for soft and hardwood and are safe for children’s toys. 

Quick and uniform results are what you get on large and small surfaces such as furniture, floors, doors, cupboards, frames, and toys. They are easy to use and come in a range of wood shades. Multiple shades are what you get from the wood dye.


  • Suitable for use on both hard and soft woods
  • It leaves the grain visible
  • Quick
  • Uniform 
  • Multiple wood shades


  • Dark 
  • Fades easily

Spirit-based wood stain

Spirit-based stains are just like water-based stains, but it is that they have high levels of solvents, which evaporate into the atmosphere. These stains soak deep into the wood, giving a better barrier against moisture. This stain works in furniture and wood manufacturing. Spirit-based stains tend to be brighter in color, fast drying, and durable.


  • High quality
  • Vibrant colors
  • Quick dry
  • Fade-resistant
  • Multiple colors 


  • Light colors tend to fade
  • Hard to scrape off

Liberon spirit wood dye

It works on new, old, and reclaimed timbers. It is for furniture restoration before polishing. Liberon spirit wood dye is for coloring hardwoods such as Mahogany, walnuts, and Oak, and some softwoods. 

It penetrates deep into the wood and can be mixed to obtain intermediate shades. It comes in Antique Pine, Light Oak, Medium Oak, Teak, Walnut, Dark Oak, Georgian Mahogany, and Ebony color.


  • Multiple colors 
  • Easy to apply
  • All colors are intermixable
  • Penetrates deep into the wood
  • Ideal for intermediate shades


  • It causes skin irritation
  • Not ideal for users with allergies

Oil-based Wood Stain

Oil-based stains are dark and used for reproduction furniture. Oil stains work on surfaces that have been finished. Shellac-based polishes can be applied directly onto this stain without any loss of color. 

They also offer more durability and dry faster than water-based stains. The only drawback is that they can fade if exposed to sunlight, and take care when polishing because if the stain is not fully dry it can bleed through the polish.


  • Even finish
  • Penetrates wood deeper
  • Durable
  • Thicker seal for wood
  • Less long-term maintenance


  • Unfriendly to the environment 
  • It takes time to dry

Non-grain raising wood stain

Non-grain-raising stains are among the best varieties as they fulfil all the requirements for a better dye. They are fast drying, have good penetration, and are available in multiple colors, from dark to bright. 

These stains formulate from soluble dyes mixed in solvents. They do not raise the grain of the wood, so you can achieve a flat, even finish. The only disadvantage is that NGR stains are less affordable.


  • Versatile
  • Balance colors
  • Rich
  • Even
  • Fast drying


  • More complex 
  • Labor intensive.

Factors to consider when selecting a food-safe wood dye


Some soft finishes like oils and waxes will wear, wash or dissolve off more quickly than a hard finish, or they might leach right into your food and give it a funny taste or smell. If the finish is consumable, the leaching is not a safety concern.

Heat tolerance

Different finishes have different tolerances for heat. When finishing cooking spoons and spatulas, check the safety labels on the back of a bottle of finish to make sure that the finish will not melt or disintegrate at high temperatures (Hygiene Food Safety.org).


The dye has to be safe to use with food. Avoid creating sharp inside corners, grooves, and other nooks and crannies for bacteria to grow. Avoid soft and porous woods.


When you have to wait for the wood dye to dry matters, it will take 30 days for most finishes containing solvents or driers to cure to food-safe levels. If you have got the time, you have more options. 

If you do not have the time, choose a finish made from pure ingredients that are safe to consume, such as tung oil, beeswax, or shellac. Some of these finishes have long curing times before they harden up, but you can still use them if the raw finish is safe to consume.

Options for food-safe wood dye

Food-safe wood finishes include olive oil, coconut oil, and vegetable oil, although they are not durable. Shellac wax and oil finishes also work, but they have a film-forming finish and an amber tint, which can discolor the look of your wood surface. Polyurethane offers better durability at the expense of eco-friendliness. It requires ventilation for application to prevent injury and long curing times before the finish achieves safety for food contact.

Steps for applying wood dye

  1. Cover your work surface with a cloth.
  2. Sand sand wipes clean.
  3. Mix the dye according to the instructions.
  4. Test a piece of scrap wood (Theprovince.com). 
  5. Apply the selected dye to the wood using a cloth or brush.  
  6. Once the wood is covered, wipe any excess liquid from the board and allow the dye to dry.


In conclusion, use food-safe wood dye with caution. You cannot randomly pick any wood dye. Look for one that does not put off your clients. Amongst the wood dyes are water-based, spirit, and oil-based wood dyes. Pick one that suits your items. Follow proper techniques and precautions to ensure the safety and beauty of the dyed wood.

David D. Hughes

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