Food Safe Wood Bowl Salad Bowl Finish by General for Woodturning Projects

Food Safe Wood Bowl
Salad Bowl Finish by General

If I’ve seen this addressed once, I’ve seen it commented on at least a hundred times, that is, “What is a food safe finish for wood bowls?”

I could make this article 10,000 words or more but I just want to comment on one finish I recently ran across called “Salad Bowl Finish” by General and you can get it at Rockler for the best price ….around $18 for a quart, it’s $28 on Amazon and more at other online stores. If you go to the General website there is a store locator that might help you find the product locally. Click on General Finishes  and you’ll find more specs regarding the food safe salad bowl finish.


general food safe salad bowl finishCreate a beautiful and safe finish on wooden bowls, cups, spoons, and countertops. Easy to apply – just wipe on with a soft clean rag. Achieves the sheen and resistance of a varnish. Dried film is non-toxic for food contact 72 hours after drying. Additional coats can be reapplied at any time if maintenance of item becomes necessary. Right from the label!


When I first started turning I discovered many turners talking about their work being for display only because of the finishes. I thought that was ashame, why couldn’t you use the beautiful wood bowl that you turned to display your evening’s dinner?

I purchased some butcher’s block finishes and they seemed to work out for salad bowls. But in reality I believe they were mostly mineral oil and some also contained beeswax. These finishes did not last too long but were functional and I felt safe using them with food.

If you’re making wood cups, you’ll want to find metal inserts ….wood simply won’t hold liquid very well. I even thought soup bowls would be cool, but finding a finish that won’t kill you eventually has been a challenge!

(Time out….had a couple of fishing lines out, gotta check em)

OK …I’m back.

So….why can’t I use polyurethane, shellac, CA or OB shine juice for a food safe finish?

I’m not sure you can’t!

Now this isn’t legal advice and I think that’s the whole issue with food safe finishes. It’s called cover your butt. No one wants to say use our finish for food vessels because it isn’t FDA approved.

Cap’n Eddie on
Food Safe Wood Turning Finishes

I think it was Cap’n Eddie who gave the best advice. He was commenting on “food safe finishes” and to sum it up basically he said that almost all finishes are food safe once they are cured. That is once the chemical process of the finish has completed and VOL’s are no longer being gassed off the finish is safe to use for food.

Now, I’m not telling you to use these finishes for food vessels but logically it makes sense. I would recommend that you use Salad Bowl Finish by General for all your wood salad bowls.

Cap’n Eddie said to use common sense, you’re not gonna want to use the wood bowl finished in lacquer to eat your spaghetti, think about it, your fork scrapes the bottom of the finish and you get a 1/2 teaspoon of lacquer by the time your done. Wood has its limitations!

Watch the Salad Bowl Finish being applied!

Salad Bowl Finish Comments

Here’s a few comments on Salad Bowl Finish from General

Comments from

Makes Excellent Finish
I have used this on 5 salad bowls and every one loves the finish.
I apply while the bowl is on the lathe spinning at a very low speed and leave is spinning until finish sets.
this avoids runs. I usually use 3 to 5 light coats.

I have been overjoyed with this product, not only did I refinish the cutting boards I also refinished all wood type cooking utensils.

salad bowl finish
This finish is great to use. Cures to a hard surface and food safe. Brings out the beautiful grain in the material. Great finish.

Salad bowl finish
I used this product to seal and protect an end grain cutting board I made. I love this product and recommend it to anyone making cutting boards.

Ease to use
I’ve used this and it goes on like pure Tung oil, let it soak in and it hardens. Then you can sand it to smooth urethane like finish. If you read the MSDS sheets for this and their Toy finish they have the exact same things in the exact same proportions so I’m not sure what why they are labeled differently but they should both be “safe” for mouth exposure.

I like this finish.
I like this finish I put it on most of my bowls I turn. I do light coats with soft cloth for me works the best. I lightly sand with 4×0 steel wool and most of the time I buff final coat with a buffing system to a very nice high gloss.

Great finish
I use this for all my cutting boards that I make….a go to finish.

Finesse is success!!
The product is awesome for finishing end grain butcher blocks of all varieties of wood. I tried several different salad bowl finishes this hands down the best for my uncontrolled climate in Fl. The experience with Rockler has been to say Good is soft spoken they are pro’s from on spot packing to immediate shipping –I am a customer for life and have used them for several years now –Hats off to all the employees and staff–Thank you!!!

General Finish Salad Bowl Finish
Great product! Easy to use and exceptional finish. It is all I use now for my bowls.

Great product
I use this on my salad bowl turnings, it dries fast and lasts
Salad Bowl Finish by General

Salad bowl finish
I have used this finish for at least 25 yrs. and have always been very satisfied with it. Have discovered that by using a piece of cloth to apply it, have had no problems with runs.

It looks great and came out with a very smooth finish.

Salad Bowl FinishSalad Bowl Finish from General






Good stuff
I having been using General Finishes Salad bowl finish for a couple years now. Most of my bowls are pine. I wet sand the first coat with 320 grit to cover any lingering blemishes, then fine sand prior to another two or three coats. At least 12 hours between coats, more when its cold in the shop. I get a beautiful smooth final finish with a lot of depth.

I’ve used this product for several rears with great results! I use a minimum of 3 coats, lightt sand in between on all my bowles, platters and hollow forms.

American Specialty Hardwoods rolling pin
This is a great product. I have been looking for a long time to replace polyurethane and finally found it.
Great high gloss finish.
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General Salad Bowl FinishGeneral Food safe salad bowl finish

I made some bowls out of…
I made some bowls out of maple and walnut and was amazed at how this product brought out the beautiful grain of the wood once applied. I applied according to directions: four applications six hours apart “sanding” with 0000 steel wool in between applications. Then I let it “cure” for 72 hours. I’m very pleased with the result and will use it on all of my bowls and trays that I am making.

Many, many more testimonials at **************


How would this work on carved wooden spoons that are actually intended to be used regularly for serving food? I am concerned it will wear too quickly.

I own 2 sawmills in Texas. We use even the smallest drop-offs making cutting boards ,or “cheese boards” & have found this finish to be extremely tough & durable with 2 coats once cured. Additional coats produces a slightly gloss finish. Stands up to daily rinses in hot soapy water. Hope that helps. Peppercreek Creations
By Capt DK on July 21, 2017

I use it to restore restaurant cutting boards used daily and not well cared for by staff. The finish is highly durable and an occasional re-coat maintains the luster.
By Steven W. Rust on July 21, 2017

It wears well– FDA approved I believe– also I have used it on cutting boards but no as a cutting surface a serving surface and has outstanding gloss –spoons should wear well–several coats making sure dry times– saturating deep in the grain of the wood.

By moemadebb481 on July 20, 2017
Never used on spoons but on cutting boards and after a year the finish is still good. Safe to use and should be great on anything used around food.
By Bjohns on July 20, 2017

More comments from

ByPeteon October 13, 2016
Verified Purchase
I really like the finish on my bowls after at least four coats of salad bowl finish they get a nice gloss to them you can just see the difference on them after each new layer put on. Very good finish and easy to put on

Great finish and easy to apply
ByMC NHon January 23, 2015
Verified Purchase
Great finish and easy to apply. I used multiple thin coats applied with a cloth to a large salad bowel and the results were excellent. It was best to let dry overnight before subsequent coats (also used 400 grit sanding between coats).

It is a good product for applications that come in contact with food …
Bought and used this a few times. It is a good product for applications that come in contact with food or food utensils.

Best I’ve used
Excellent product I have used this varnish many times for utensils to be used in food preparation and serving. It’s durability far exceeds any other I have used.

Easy to use and great results
BySalli & Geneon August 18, 2017
Verified Purchase
This is a great finish. There was a bit of a learning curve for me however. Not that the piece didn’t turn out ok but it required more coats than were necessary. I have learned to spend extra time with the first coat. Keep wiping it on when you see it has absorbed into the wood, primarily end grain. I just keep wiping more on until it stays wet evenly, then do a final wipe to even it out. Leave extra time for the first coat to dry, I do both sides the first time. I sand with 400 between coats and alternate sides, every 3 or 4 hours seems to work of me. If I see a spot that still soaks in I just apply more until all is wet then do a final wipe to even out just like with the first coat. Last coat gets 0000 steel wool instead of sanding. The more you put on the glossier it gets. Last coat is just a thin wipe.

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food safe salad bowl finish from generalgeneral food safe salad bowl finish

I am experimenting with using this as a sealer coat before using oil or wax. The second picture shows a comparison of 2 ELM bowls with 5 coats of SBQT on one ant the other with one coat SBQT/sanded with 400/and wax. The sanding removes all finish on the surface. Using Mahoney’s wax. Really like this result. I Think this is a great solution for an open grain wood where you do not want a gloss finish but also do not want just Walnut Oil and wax.

This is a very versatile and easy to apply finish that gives great results.