Monday, February 1, 2016

How I Make Wood Butter

It's no secret that items made of wood are some of the things I love. My large collections of rolling pins, wooden bowls and trays and wooden utensils are a testament to that fact.

In one of my all-time favorite movies, The Quiet Man, the character of Mary Kate Dannaher was portrayed by the beautiful Maureen O'Hara. Mary Kate, by her own admission, had "a fearful temper." She also had strong connection to the things that made her house a home--the things that made her happy.  In one of the scenes after she married Sean Thornton (John Wayne) and moved into his cottage with him, she insisted that she wanted "her things about her."

The love found within my house is, of course, the thing that makes it feel like home. Still, like Mary Kate Dannaher, I feel a strong connection to and want to have some of "my things about me."  Wooden items are some of those "things."

Over the decades, heat, humidity and cleaning can take a toll on wood items so that they become dried out, parched and cracked. That is what has happened to many of my wooden bowls and rolling pins. These are some of my bowls which are looking badly in need of some tender loving care.
Some of My Old Wooden Bowls Before Being Treated With Homemade Wood Butter

This bowl is in really sad shape. It is sturdy enough and not cracking but it feels really dry and rough to the touch. The color is very faded and washed out looking.
One Of My Wooden Bowls Before Treating With Homemade Wood Butter
Lately, I have been doing some research about ways to recondition and protect the wooden items in my home. What does the best job? Are commercial products better to use than what I could make for myself? How much do commercial formulas cost versus making my own product?

Surprisingly, there is quite a lot of information on the Internet and in Blog land about the subject of  Wood Butter. Not so surprising is the fact that some of the commercial products on the market can be pricey. There are different names used for it, such as spoon butter, board butter and wood butter!

In addition, there is some debate about what type of oil to use and which might not be so good to use. I also learned that it is not that difficult and not terribly expensive to make my own wood conditioner and protector at home.

If you know me, at all, you will know that I like the idea of creating things myself when I can. So, that is exactly what I did! Don't these bowls look much better after a good conditioning with my Homemade Wood Butter?
My Wooden Bowls After Conditioning With Homemade Wood Butter
Do you love your wooden pieces, old and new? Would you like to learn how to make your own Homemade Wood Butter? If you would, then I hope you will read on.

I have chosen to use the term Wood Butter for what I made because, I will be using it on all kinds of wooden objects and utensils, not just on spoons and cutting boards. I think most people use it that way too. I cannot take credit for the idea because, from the looks of things, people have been doing this for a long time, even some who do woodworking as a hobby or business. I think woodworkers and custom furniture makers have been using beeswax for centuries on their creations.

I did not actually weigh the beeswax but filled the bottom of the pint canning jar up to the 2 ounce mark near the bottom of the jar and added a little more, since I didn't want to pack the wax down and wanted to allow for loose spacing in the jar. Really, it is not rocket science and I believe that as long as you do not add too much wax and have the stuff come out hard, it will be just fine. I consider it like this, if it is too thick, add more mineral oil. If it's too thin, add a little more beeswax!

During my research I read where there can an issue with some of the oils used going rancid over a period of time. In which case, the wood begins to have a rancid odor. As far as I can ascertain, this is mainly with plant based oils such as sunflower oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, etc. Apparently, there is quite a lot of debate on the subject of which oil is best. Then, there is a debate about using mineral oil because it might not be environmentally friendly or biologically safe. However, mineral oil is said not to go rancid as quickly as plant based oils, if at all. Because I do not like the idea of  rank and rancid smelling cutting boards, bowls, spoons and so on, I decided to use mineral oil. The grade that is food safe is okay to ingest. It can be purchased in most any pharmacy "over the counter," as an intestinal lubricant. I bought mine at Walmart in the pharmacy area. The only other ingredient in the making of the Homemade Wood Butter is Natural Beeswax. I purchased the Natural Beeswax at Hobby Lobby in a one-pound block.
Ingredients For Making Homemade Wood Butter
I located natural beeswax on the Internet in pellet form and that would be more convenient, since I spent some time shaving the wax off the solid block. That was actually the most time-consuming part of the process.

Equipment You Will Need For Preparing And Storing Wood Butter:

2 Quart Sauce Pan
1 Quart of Tap Water (or a little more to reach half way up a pint canning jar when placed in a saucepan)
1 Pint Glass Canning Jar
2 Wooden Skewers or a Stirring Stick of Some Kind
Optional: Small Containers to Use for Storing to Give as Gifts

Ingredients For Preparing Homemade Wood Butter:

2 Ounces of Natural Beeswax shavings or Natural Beeswax Pellets
8 Ounces of  Food Grade Mineral Oil (from Pharmacy Section)

Instructions For Preparing Homemade Wood Butter:

  • Pour tap water into 2 quart sauce pan and place on burner of stove top on medium high heat.
  • Place 2 Ounces of Natural Beeswax in a 1 pint glass canning jar.
  • Pour 8 ounces of Food Grade Mineral Oil into the pint jar containing the 2 ounces of Beeswax.
  • Place the pint canning jar containing the beeswax and mineral oil in the pan of water heating on the stove top. Use care not to allow water to get into the mixture in the jar!
    Beeswax and Mineral Oil Mixed For Homemade Wood Butter
  • Using the wooden skewers, carefully stir the mixture. You will see the beeswax begin to melt in the mineral oil. Continue stirring.  You will notice the mixture is beginning to turn a bright yellow as the beeswax melts. 
Beeswax and Mineral Oil Mixture For Homemade Wood Butter 
  • When water begins to simmer, turn burner to low heat and continue to stir the mixture until all the beeswax is dissolved into the mineral oil. 
  • Turn off heat of burner when the beeswax is totally dissolved.
  • As the mixture begins to cool down for a few minutes it will begin to thicken.
Note: Pour into smaller storage containers while the mixture is still liquid enough for pouring!
Small Containers of  Homemade Wood Butter For Storing or Gifting
Aren't these little tub containers cute? I found these little plastic containers at Dollar Tree and they will make perfect little gifts, as a little Homemade Wood Butter goes a long way!

The containers have little lids too.
Little Plastic Containers Of Homemade Wood Butter With Lids

This is what the butter looks like once it solidifies. It is about the same consistency as real dairy butter.
Solid Homemade Wood Butter in Plastic Tub

Solid Homemade Wood Butter On A Small Spoon 
It looks good enough to eat, but don't do that!

To Use Homemade Wood Butter:

  • Spoon a little of the Homemade Wood Butter out and, using your hands or a soft cloth, spread it all over your wooden utensil, bowl, etc.
Allow the pieces to sit for several hours or overnight. These bowls in the picture below have been treated and left overnight and are waiting to be wiped down and buffed up with the soft cotton rag made from one of my husbands old tee shirts.

Wooden Bowls After Applying Homemade Wood Butter But Before Wiping and Buffing
  • After allowing the wooden pieces to sit for a few hours or overnight, use a soft, lint-free cloth or rag to wipe off any Wood Butter that remains and buff the pieces up a bit. The beeswax will bring a little shine and new life to your wooden pieces!

Buff Wooden Utensils and Bowls After Applying Homemade Wood Butter

This is the bowl that was pictured near the beginning of this post. It is very old and is exceptionally dry and thirsty. It looks much better than it did, but I am going to treat it two or three more times in the near future.
This Wooden Bowl Needs More TLC With Homemade Wood Butter
I hope you have enjoyed my little tutorial on the making of Homemade Wood Butter and that, perhaps, it has inspired you to make a batch or two.

Thank you so much for dropping by to see what is going on at Mimi Mine. I really appreciate the time you spend here! 

No comments: