Buying Guide for the Best Mineral Oils
Why buy mineral oil?
Mineral oils are often used on the skin to treat cradle cap or dandruff, soothe eczema or burns, or prevent diaper rash. Because they’re a natural lubricant, mineral oils can also be used in cleaners, stain removers, and protective polishes for wooden furniture, cutting boards, and metal tools. They help prevent wooden surfaces from becoming scratched and metal surfaces from rusting. The great thing about mineral oil is that it’s both effective and inexpensive, and many brands are multipurpose. It’s also readily available in large bulk quantities, making it even more cost-efficient in the long run.
What should you look for in mineral oil?
- Uses: How do you plan to use your new mineral oil? What surfaces do you intend to use it on the most? Some products may be multipurpose, but others may be geared towards one purpose over others. One type of mineral oil may be best for protecting wooden surfaces, for instance, while another is better suited for cleaning toilet bowls. Be sure to check the listing on any mineral oil you might buy, especially if there’s a chance the mineral oil was blended with other ingredients that make it more suitable for steel over wood or vice versa.
- Food Grade: A common use for mineral oil is cleaning, conditioning, and protecting cutting boards and wooden serving utensils. It’s an excellent choice for this task since mineral oil protects against scratches and can help prevent the wood from drying out and cracking after multiple cleanings. As useful as this is, using mineral oil on surfaces that touch your food may come back to haunt you later if it isn’t a food-safe product. If your plan is to use mineral oil on cutting boards or food utensils, be sure to buy a product labeled as food grade or food safe.
- Spray vs. Liquid: As you’d expect from the name, most mineral oils are sold in a liquid form. However, you can also buy them as a spray if you prefer. There is no quality or effectiveness difference between the two, so this is mostly down to personal preference. Many people find the liquid form easier to spread and rub into various surfaces, but it’s also messier, and you risk spilling or oversaturating your belongings. Sprays are easier to apply but harder to use as a coating. You may also want to avoid a spray if you have asthma or other respiratory problems, as the droplets and fumes may linger in the air and cause irritation.
What else should you know about the uses of mineral oil?
Mineral oil has so many applications it’s almost astounding. It can be found in cosmetics and added to your skin cleansing and moisturizing routine. It’s also used in the food and auto industry for treating and preserving tools and equipment. In short, mineral oil is pretty nifty. Chances are good that you could benefit from having a bottle around the house.
Our Picks for the Best Mineral Oils
Thirteen Chefs Food-Grade Mineral Oil
A multipurpose mineral oil that can be used to lubricate and protect numerous surfaces.
Pros: This is a classic, odorless, tasteless, and colorless mineral oil that can be used on multiple surfaces, from bamboo to stainless steel to granite, soapstone, marble, and metal. This mineral oil is food grade, so it’s safe to use on wooden utensils, cutting boards, knives, and butcher blocks. It works to hydrate and seal wooden surfaces to protect them from unwanted moisture, drying out, or cracking.
Cons: This oil has a thinner consistency/lower viscosity than others, which might not be ideal for everyone.
Bottom Line: Unlike many mineral oil products, this one comes in different sizes. You can buy Thirteen Chefs in three different sizes: 12 or 64 fluid ounces or a whole gallon. This is a reliable product that will work well for most people.
Swan Mineral Oil, 16 oz
It takes just a tablespoon or two of this mineral oil to find relief from constipation.
Pros: Did you know that mineral oil can help with constipation, dry skin, and dry scalp? The mineral works as a laxative by lubricating the inside of the bowel to loosen the stool. It’s odorless, tasteless, and colorless, which are positive qualities to have in a product you must ingest. Swan Mineral Oil contains 99.9% mineral oil, leaving little room for unwanted additives. Swan’s Mineral oil can work to form a barrier on the skin and scalp to hold in moisture and prevent dryness as well.
Cons: Using mineral oil as a laxative could possibly interfere with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and medications you may be taking. Consult your doctor if you have concerns, and pay attention to the recommended dosage.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for quality mineral oil that’s safe to ingest and good for household products as well, this Swan Mineral Oil could be a great option.
UltraSource UltraPro Premium Food Grade Mineral Oil
A gallon of quality mineral oil you can use for just about everything. When you realize how useful it is, you'll be glad you bought a large size.
Pros: This UltraSource mineral oil is a great buy for several reasons. For one, it’s a whole gallon jug that might save you trips to the store or online purchasing. It’s also food-grade quality, so it’s a safe lubricant for food-handling equipment and machinery. Additionally, this mineral oil is safe and effective to use on stainless steel kitchen knives, wooden cutting boards, and butcher blocks. It restores the moisture to just about any surface, including furniture, stainless steel counters, and skin. You can use it as baby oil, too.
Cons: It might be more than you’ll need. It has a lower viscosity.
Bottom Line: Honestly, this stuff is fantastic. Mineral oil offers an impressive array of applications, so having a larger amount on hand is a sweet bonus!
Sanco Industries Premium 100% Pure Food-Grade Mineral Oil
A premium mineral oil spray that is multipurpose and easy to apply.
Pros: If you prefer the more convenient and lower-effort application of a spray, consider this product. Even in spray form, it has all the properties of classic mineral oil. It’s colorless, odorless, tasteless, and it prevents bacterial growth. It’s also 100% food-grade, USP certified, and NSF approved. Along with being safe to use on surfaces that touch and handle food, it prevents the absorption of food odors.
Cons: Some found that the spray nozzle didn’t work as well as they wanted it to.
Bottom Line: This 16-ounce mineral oil spray bottle makes it possible to aim at specific spots on surfaces. Rather than cover a whole counter, you can apply it only where you need it.
Johnson's Mineral Oil Enriched with Shea and Cocoa Butter
A baby mineral oil with a great reputation, now with shea and cocoa butter for extra softness.
Pros: The chances are good that you’re familiar with Johnson’s Baby Oil. They’ve only been around since the 1930s! Known for its gentle properties, this version of mineral oil is even softer as it’s enriched with shea and cocoa butter. Use it to massage your baby’s skin and enjoy the moisturizing effect it has on your hands. It’s hypoallergenic and free of parabens, dyes, and phthalates. You can enjoy Jonson’s Baby Oil for your own skin and scalp, too. It’s also great for older adults with thinner skin.
Cons: Unlike the other mineral oil products we reviewed here, this one does have a light scent. If you or your baby are sensitive to scents, you may want to consider a different product.
Bottom Line: It says a lot when a brand-name product has been around for decades and is still considered high-quality. This mineral oil will make your baby, yourself, or a loved one’s skin healthier and happier.
Mineral oil is more useful than many realize. It’s used in the food and auto industries because it treats and protects multiple surfaces, tools, and machines. Plus, it can work wonders on dry skin. Check out the mineral oil products we recommend to find one that will best suit your needs.