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Thread: Warm food on Shellac?

  1. #1

    Warm food on Shellac?

    Serving board done so far, 41x11x2. Two coats of danish oil, 1 coat of sealcoat shellac, 4 coats of brushed on regular shellac thinned 40%. Built as a surprise BUT....now I find out my sister wants it bigger and plans to put warm polenta on it. Is shellac going to hold up to warm polenta? The whole idea really bothers me regarding the 'pouring the food on it' because my it's such a trendy instagram thing to do, likely once too. My lil sister kills me sometimes. She also wanted it 18" wide for a 36" wide table....barely any room plates and glasses if made that big. What turned out to be a surprise might be a gift she wont even use hahah.

    I was going to wax it in a day as the shellac dries BUT need to determine if the shellac will be ok for warm food OR if I need to put a varnish on top that hardens more.

    Thoughts?




  2. #2
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    Almost no finish is going to hold up to warm/hot anything...and yes, I believe that the shellac will be affected.

    That's a beautiful looking serving board, BTW.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Irish View Post
    Serving board done so far, 41x11x2. Two coats of danish oil, 1 coat of sealcoat shellac, 4 coats of brushed on regular shellac thinned 40%. Built as a surprise BUT....now I find out my sister wants it bigger and plans to put warm polenta on it. Is shellac going to hold up to warm polenta? The whole idea really bothers me regarding the 'pouring the food on it' because my it's such a trendy instagram thing to do, likely once too. My lil sister kills me sometimes. She also wanted it 18" wide for a 36" wide table....barely any room plates and glasses if made that big. What turned out to be a surprise might be a gift she wont even use hahah.

    I was going to wax it in a day as the shellac dries BUT need to determine if the shellac will be ok for warm food OR if I need to put a varnish on top that hardens more.

    Thoughts?



    Shellac is food safe. One of the advantages of shellac is the ease of repair. Warm polenta will be in contact with shellac - that is fine. I see no need for wax - unless it too is food safe. Afterwards, if needed, repair & use again.

  4. #4
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    Well all cured finishes supposedly are food safe, but that doesn't mean they won't be damaged. All it means is they won't damage you if you eat some. And you likely will be eating some if you put hot polenta directly on a shellac finish.

    The simple solution here is to put a piece of 1/4" glass on top of the serving board. Your trendy sister can pour whatever she wants on it with abandon. If that is a non starter then you need a much better finish, something like conversion varnish.

    Where do people get this stuff?

    John

  5. #5
    I would use the shellac. Recoat as needed. The problem with the glass is it will be smeary and not make an appetizing
    presentation. Chefs have rules for that stuff, might find them on line.

  6. #6
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    I'm not sure if you mean food is going directly onto the timber finish or whether you mean warm plates will be going onto the finish.

    If food is going directly on the surface, shellac is not a good choice. It is not poisonous but it will rapidly degrade and flake off into the food. This will happen with regardless of temperature. This is not good as you have contaminant in the food and a surface that develops more and more places where bacteria can flourish.

    If it is to be used as a tray with plates etc placed on it, the shellac will develop white rings and other marks due to the application of moisture and heat. Frequent maintenance will be required.

    A varnish could be made of anything, is unlikely to be food safe and will not necessarily be any more durable. You have a lot of coats of other products already that is not the best under any kind of varnish.

    The best food safe finishes are at opposite ends of the spectrum. The easiest option is to just oil it with an edible oil and nothing else. Apply multiple coats initially and then it gets oiled at regular intervals depending on the frequency of use. Boards done this way are surprisingly more bacteria resistant than many synthetic materials.

    The top of the line option is to use a food safe, 2 part epoxy. Epoxy will tolerate up to 85C regularly and 120C from time to time. It will form a complete film and won't flake off into the food. It is important to remember that a food safe product has to be both durable and non-poisonous. Cheers
    Every construction obeys the laws of physics. Whether we like or understand the result is of no interest to the universe.

  7. #7
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    I was just going to suggest a edible oil as well, like a wooden spoon or a cutting board.

  8. #8
    Have to disagree on shellac flaking, the Orange is generally considered the toughest and has been used on casting
    patterns etc. Shelac was used for a long time to coat pills to slow down the rate of dissolving.

  9. #9
    If I knew this was the plan for use I would have done my typical mineral oil and beeswax.

    I was under the impression it was for cold meets and cheeses. Only option now I think is gambling with it OR finding a piece of a glass, be probably $40 for glass I think. I'm in no mood to sand off the shellac as I spent lots of time and $$ getting it on there.

    Maybe I'll see if she can wrap it in saran wrap or something after I give it to her.

  10. #10
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    Just tell her it's not for hot foods and give that beautiful thing to her!
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  11. #11
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    Shellac does flake with repeated moisture/heat/cold stress. It keeps furniture restorers in a job. Cheers

  12. #12
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    Shellac is perfectly food-safe. As folks noted, it is used to coat pills - and shellac wax is used to coat apples before they go into cold storage. The finish will degrade slowly as it is used, but should be easy to sand and recoat as necessary. I wouldn't worry about it and focus on having a great party!

    TedP

  13. #13
    Don't let her put warm polenta or runny/wet/warm anything directly on it. That board is beautiful, BTW.

    Use a smaller, sacrificial board (unfinished if you please) to hold your brie, oilier meats, and polenta. Turn a polenta bowl for her.

    For future ref, I personally find shellac too much work for kitchen items. That board will get cut into, oiled up, abraded down pretty quickly. Nowadays, I may do an oil/varnish just for the initial gift presentation. After that, though, the standard upkeep is wax and mineral oil every couple washes.

  14. #14
    Join Date
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    Food grade shellac and what Zinsser puts in their cans is not the same thing.

    John

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by John TenEyck View Post
    Food grade shellac and what Zinsser puts in their cans is not the same thing.

    John
    It might be more refined ,but I doubt it. The only difference I can find is food grade was dissolved is pure grain alcohol,
    not denatured (intentionaly poisoned).

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