When the bowls are shaped and sanded they need some sort of protection against water and dirt. I prefer to use natural plant oil for this. I use all kinds of oils, e.g almond oil, hazelnut, walnut, olive, tung. Plant oils penetrate but do do not seal the wood. They are totally environmentally friendly and safe to use with foods. Bowls finished with plant oil have a natural look with a soft and "woody" touch. Most natural oils also leave a pleasant scent, which can be further enhanced by adding essential oils. A drawback of this type of finish is that wood patterns (also called the 'grain') do not stand out as much as they can with varnish-based finishes. This is why I sometimes use Danish Oil, Sanding Sealer or Melamine. I use these mainly on strongly patterned wood, or on wood that just looks better with these products. Danish Oil is a popular finish for woodturned objects. It consist of Tung Oil (a natural oil from a Chinese plant) to which hardeners have been added. Bowls and platters that are finished with natural oil will benefit from an occasional wipe with a good quality vegetable oil. Over time they will become darker. Bowls that have been finished with other products do not need any further treatment. They will also slowly darken.
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