Food-safe Way to Darken a Beech Countertop?

Food-safe Way to Darken a Beech Countertop?

I would like to darken a purchased beech wood countertop from IKEA®. It is for the kitchen, and I was wondering if there exists some way to darken it that is safe for food consumption? Thanks! – Caro

Chris Marshall: Honestly, I’d let your countertop simply darken naturally on its own. Exposure to sunlight and air will darken the wood quite a bit all by itself, and if you decide to oil your countertop to help preserve it, the oil will give the wood an amber tint, too. When you think about “butcher block” applications, the wood is almost always left natural in color. So, darkening it artificially might not be the best plan, just from an appearance standpoint.

To illustrate my point about natural darkening, here’s a current photo of the top of a kitchen island project I built for the October 2012 print issue of Woodworker’s Journal. The top is maple, not beech, but color-wise, the two species look almost identical and age similarly. This project sits in a sunny kitchen. The piece of blond maple I’ve laid on top is new and freshly planed. Look how much darker the oiled butcher block top has become with age, use and a little oil rubbed in now and again. It will get darker still as time goes on. Just my two cents, but consider letting time do the darkening work for you.

Tim Inman: I would suggest trying food grade dyes. They are not “made” for wood, but I’ll bet you find they work. Since they are made for “food,” they should be safe for your use.

Posted in: