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Is Tung Oil Safe?

Cameron Delaney

Tung oil is a popular finishing product for wood and an ingredient in paints, resins or floor coverings. Used properly, tung oil usually does not pose a health or safety risk.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that tung oil, applied properly and allowed to dry, is a safe finish for wooden bowls or other items that come in contact with food.


Exercise fire safety precautions when using tung oil. Keep containers tightly closed and away from heat, sparks or flames. Discard rags or other materials soaked with the oil in a sealed, water-filled container.


Some people may suffer a skin rash after contact with tung oil. In rare cases, they might experience eye or respiratory irritation.


Tung oil comes from the tung oil tree's seeds, which are poisonous. Eating tung oil or cooking food in tung oil can cause severe gastrointestinal problems, including stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting.


People who get sick from ingesting tung oil need treatment to alleviate the gastrointestinal symptoms and to restore their fluid and electrolyte balance.