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Is wooden worktop hygienic enough?

Discussion in 'Lye-Based Soap Forum' started by sasha_88, Nov 30, 2018.

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  1. Nov 30, 2018 #1

    sasha_88

    sasha_88

    sasha_88

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    Hi all,

    I am looking to buy or build a soaping workspace, but I wonder what the most hygienic worktop would be made of. I can't afford stainless steel at the moment, so I am wondering about wood. What do you think?

    I apologize if the thread is not in the right forum.
     
  2. Nov 30, 2018 #2

    SaltedFig

    SaltedFig

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    Unfinished wood itself is difficult to clean, but you can put a polyurethane coating on it, which will both act as a varnish and give you resistance to soap batter, lye and oil spills (normal soaping ingredients like oils, lye, glycerin can be cleaned off easily after you've made your soap - the coating is resistant to these ingredients).

    https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/polyurethane-chemical-resistance-d_1878.html

    Note: The urethane coating can be damaged by alcohols and acids. Nail polish remover (acetone) will dissolve the finish (you can see the damage - it will swell and turn white). If you have a spill of ethanol, isopropyl alcohol or similar, you have enough time to wipe it clean (it's more that this product cannot be used to store alcohol).

    The product is fairly easy to apply, relatively inexpensive and, once finished, the surface is very easy to clean.
     
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  3. Dec 2, 2018 #3

    Megan

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    Thank you for the tip! I am looking at a wooden worktop as well and wasn't sure how to treat it. As for sanitizing a polyurethane surface...is it doable? I usually sanitize with isopropyl or bleach...I'm sure those two are no-gos. I plan to put a stainless steel backsplash on top of my wooden countertop at some point...but probably not for a while.
     
  4. Dec 2, 2018 #4

    Loralei

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    I have a big wooden table that was left in the house we bought this year - I brought a glass table top from our old home, and placed it over the wood - it's heat resistant, and sooo easy to clean!!
     
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  5. Dec 2, 2018 #5

    penelopejane

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    You would be much better off with a Formica bench top. It is far more resistant to all the chemicals and oils used in soapmaking. It will last a lot longer than a polyurethane coating system. Formica should still be in good condition in 10-20 years.

    One chip and the polyurethane will start to break down. Even without chipping with moisture and oils used for soap making will last about a year.

    SS is not necessary for soapmaking. It should last 40 years plus.
     
  6. Dec 2, 2018 #6

    dibbles

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    I would agree with the idea of Formica. If you don't care what it looks like some of the home improvement stores here have pieces that have been cut to the wrong size or have a small blemish that are very inexpensive. If you do care what it looks like, it is still not too expensive and there are some pretty options.
     
  7. Dec 2, 2018 #7

    SaltedFig

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    Yes, Bleach can be used ... polyurethane is resistant to sodium hyperchlorite* (5% solution or less, choose plain bleach, not a blend with hydrogen peroxide)
    No, Alcohol should not be used for regular cleaning polyurethane, it acts as a solvent and will have a softening effect.
    (*reference: https://www.spilltech.com/wcsstore/...ore/Attachment/documents/ccg/POLYURETHANE.pdf)

    PenelopeJane - marine two pack should survive some pretty hard knocks and is highly resistant to both chemical and physical damage (but, like any plastic, there are cheap versions of polyurethane that aren't as good) - as a wood coating, it should last for many years (not just one).

    If you are looking at a new table/benchtop purchase, instead of a wood coating, formica works exceptionally well (as penelopejane suggests).

    An alternative (for most table surfaces) is to use mats (that can be sanitised) and trivets (for placing hot items on).
     
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  8. Dec 2, 2018 #8

    SudsanSoaps

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    I believe it depends what type of wood is used. The food industry uses wood tables. Also wood butcher blocks. I believe it’s maple they use. Problem is gonna be cost.
     
  9. Dec 2, 2018 #9

    penelopejane

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    I’m one of those who doesn’t treat my work surfaces with TLC. I hit my mold on it to level the batter. I hit my mold on it to get the soap out of the mold. I have NaOH splatters and drops of batter scattered around after every mix.

    Formica is cheaper than wood, let alone wood with a polyurethane finish. But each to their own! :)
     
  10. Dec 3, 2018 #10

    Relle

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    In Australia wooden butcher blocks are not longer used for hygiene reasons, previously we used them in our business and they constantly have to be scrapped down which takes off some of the top layer. Our blocks are Mountain Ash and Silky Oak.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2018
  11. Dec 3, 2018 #11

    amd

    amd

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    I have a wooden workspace - it's actually a folding workbench that attaches to the wall. My original intent was not to make soap on it but to have a clean work surface for packaging soaps. Well, stuff happens and plans change! I make soap on that dang thing all the time, and I will tell you that it is not easy to clean. Soap batter isn't bad, but if I spill oil or colors on it, it takes a lot of cleaning to remove the oily residue. If I could do it over, I wouldn't be making soap on it. Future upgrades for the soap lab involve giving myself more counter space with "real counters" (right now I work on a plastic craft table and the wooden folding workbench). We'll see if the budget allows SS or regular countertop.
     
  12. Dec 6, 2018 at 3:25 PM #12

    GreenDragon

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    How large a workspace are you planning on? Have you considered concrete countertops? I put in a row of 3 36" cabinet bases I bought from Ikea in my garage and built a mold to cast a 1.5" deep countertop for each. Stained and sealed them - virtually indestructible. Cost about $25 per 36" countertop. Liked them so much I built a work table for the kitchen for extra counter space (Pic below). They are $$$ if you hire someone, dirt cheap if you DIY. Once sealed they are heat and chemical resistant and a snap to clean / sanitize.

    IMG_3413.JPG
     
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  13. Dec 7, 2018 at 12:51 PM #13

    beckster51

    beckster51

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    Well, I will jump in here and look like an idiot! Why on earth do you need to sanitize a surface where you make soap? Clean it, yes, but it doesn't need to be sanitized to make soap.
     
  14. Dec 7, 2018 at 1:14 PM #14

    dibbles

    dibbles

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    I don't think a surface needs to be sanitized for making soap, but a lot of people use the same workspace for other things. Making lotion for example, and would want the work area to be sanitized as best as possible.
     
  15. Dec 7, 2018 at 1:44 PM #15

    Mary M

    Mary M

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    65BB0E89-A3DE-4C52-8001-70FC88E6AE4F.jpeg I recently was given an old used kitchen rolling cart with ceramic tile top, cleans up easily. It is counter height, has wheels so I can move it from kitchen to storage area. My hubby added a couple rods so I can hang my shower bar and shampoo bar and a bottom rack for added curing area. It looks simple enough to build too.
     
  16. Dec 7, 2018 at 2:26 PM #16

    penelopejane

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    Mary
    It looks great but soap shouldn’t be directly sitting on metal. It can develop DOS. It is a good idea to put kitchen paper or an old thin cotton tea towel between the soap and the metal.

    Even plastic coated metal can be problematic.
     
  17. Dec 7, 2018 at 2:47 PM #17

    cmzaha

    cmzaha

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    Problem with ceramic is the grout lines, you just cannot sanitize grout well even if the tiles are set close together. I second formica, but I have to use my tile counters so I use 99 cent store table cloths to cover my counter. When making lotion I use a new table cloth. If I am making a small batch of lotion I use large hdpe cutting boards that I can sanitize. These are cutting boards with no cut marks since I do not use them for cutting and scar them up.
     
  18. Dec 7, 2018 at 4:52 PM #18

    Mary M

    Mary M

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    Thank you. I was anxious to test out my new space. I have ordered plastic canvas sheets, which should arrive this weekend. I read sonewhere that could be used for curing and hoped to lay it on top of my wire, will that be ok?
     
  19. Dec 8, 2018 at 5:31 AM #19

    penelopejane

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    That would be fine. In the meantime use something cotton. You want them to breathe so just not polyester.

    Also, I’d think about using a sealer on the grout while it’s perfect. Slate and granite sealers work well - one that soaks in completely and doesn’t leave a visible residue are great. Tile places sell them.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2018 at 5:38 AM
  20. Dec 8, 2018 at 11:27 AM #20

    Mary M

    Mary M

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    Thinking on those same lines, I scrubbed the grout with tooth brush and soap. When totally dry I applied 2 coats of the grout sealer sealer that we use on our floors.

    T(ank you all for your advise.
     
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