Mineral Oil Vs. Vegetable Oil for Wood Countertop

Wood countertops need special care and routine maintenance to prevent the surface from warping, splintering or cracking. A mineral oil or vegetable oil, or other types of oils can be used to condition the wood and decrease damage from regular use. Mineral oils are more commonly used than vegetable oils or animal fats for various reasons.

Mineral Oil

Mineral oil has the ability to penetrate the wood surface and is the most common choice for conditioning wood countertops.  The mineral oil should be rubbed into the wood surface with a cloth until the countertop cannot absorb any more. Usually a wax such as beeswax is applied on top of the mineral oil as an extra seal for the wood. 

Vegetable Oil

Many people use vegetable oil on a wood countertop as an alternative to mineral oil because it is more environmentally friendly and less-expensive.  The vegetable oil is applied with a soft cloth and rubbed onto the wood surface until the wood cannot absorb anymore. A sealer, such as a beeswax can also be applied on top of the vegetable oil. 

Pros and Cons of Mineral Oil

The mineral oil is usually safe to use on countertops and generally does not attract bacteria as other oils can.  One downside of using mineral oil to treat a wood countertop is that it must be regularly applied. Mineral oil should be applied one time per month or it loses its effectiveness.  The routine maintenance can sometimes be difficult to keep up with.

Pros Cons of Vegetable Oil

Although one advantage to vegetable oil is that it is environmentally friendly, many professionals discourage homeowners from using this method to seal countertops.  Vegetable oil has the tendency to go rancid after awhile and can cause a foul order. This oil also usually attracts bacteria and can be harmful to homeowners if using the countertop to prepare food or clean dishes.  The oil must be re-applied regularly as does mineral oil to ensure its effectiveness.


Mineral or vegetable oils can help prevent the wood countertop from further damage, other products may protect better.  Professional manufacturers can apply a finish that does not need to be applied as regularly as mineral or vegetable oil, but are more expensive. It is best to evaluate which method is best for your countertop or consult a professional opinion. 

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