Adrien Lippmann

Wood varnish for kids enduring boiling water

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Hi, I am working on a project for little toys for kids in Europe.
Those tiny objects must endure a test where they will be plunged into a container with boiling water (100° C / 220 ° F) for 10 consecutive minutes. 

Then some chemical tests will be run to check some element migrations on other part of this toy (in latex), so while boiling, the varnish shall not release any toxic component that could transfer onto the latex parts.

I have to go through this specific test to get the regulation approval ! So I have no other options to find the solution. 

It has been a while I am looking for such a product online, but so far, nothing's match this test. 

Does anyone have any idea of what could work ?

Thank you guys !

Adrien

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26 minutes ago, Adrien Lippmann said:

have any idea of what could work ?

Nope.

I'll just toss out that wooden toys don't necessarily need a surface coating.  If you make them from maple the only thing boiling will release is dilute pancake syrup.

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I'd vote unfinished as that is how most of my wooden toys were when I was a kid.

There are products but I'm no chemist so i have zero idea what is going to be classified as a "toxic compound" This is made more confusing by the fact that water can be a toxic compound in a high enough dosage. If you can get a list of compounds they test for check the SDS of any finishes to make sure the finish does not contain that compound. Osmo is a well regarded finish, possibly roubio monocoat.

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Will these toys consist of multiple parts? Glue is as likely to fail the test as finish is.

I would suggest a mineral oil and wax finish, very safe, but likely to leach out of the wood in boiling water.

I assume this test helps prove the product is dishwasher safe?

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16 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

I assume this test helps prove the product is dishwasher safe?

I was thinking they wanted to know it was safe for a toddler that may chose to teeth on the toy.

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I use oil & beeswax on all my wooden cookware. It help prevent the wood from swelling under the influence of boiling water, but does require refreshing fairly often.

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Ross, what is your formula? Would the beeswax not just melt away in his 10 min. bath? 

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I would go natural as well, to me it doesn't make a lot of sense to put in the time to finish the toys, or have to go through this testing process multiple times.

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18 hours ago, Mark J said:

Nope.

I'll just toss out that wooden toys don't necessarily need a surface coating.  If you make them from maple the only thing boiling will release is dilute pancake syrup.

Thanks for the laughter!

This object has to be resistant to long exposition to toddler saliva, and have to be able to be sterilized, that is why the boiling process is required in the regulation

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16 hours ago, Chestnut said:

I'd vote unfinished as that is how most of my wooden toys were when I was a kid.

There are products but I'm no chemist so i have zero idea what is going to be classified as a "toxic compound" This is made more confusing by the fact that water can be a toxic compound in a high enough dosage. If you can get a list of compounds they test for check the SDS of any finishes to make sure the finish does not contain that compound. Osmo is a well regarded finish, possibly roubio monocoat.

I'd love to used it unfinished, but simply impossible…

What do you mean by SDS ? Sorry…

Thanks a lot for Osmo and Roubio that I did not know about, gone a check those ones ! 

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5 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

Will these toys consist of multiple parts? Glue is as likely to fail the test as finish is.

I would suggest a mineral oil and wax finish, very safe, but likely to leach out of the wood in boiling water.

I assume this test helps prove the product is dishwasher safe?

This test has to be run for sterilization. Thanks for the suggestions

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4 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

I use oil & beeswax on all my wooden cookware. It help prevent the wood from swelling under the influence of boiling water, but does require refreshing fairly often.

Thank you for the tips, could you tell me which oil and the beeswax brand ?

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4 hours ago, Adrien Lippmann said:

Thank you for the tips, could you tell me which oil and the beeswax brand ?

In the US, there is a product called Howard's Butcher Block Conditioner, which I have used. I now make my own blend by melting beeswax in a double boiler and mixing in mineral oil (sold as a laxative in most pharmacies) to get a soft paste.

This finish does require occasional refreshing.

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I'm not sure why unfinished is impossible.

Hardwoods that are sanded to a high grit will have surface properties similar to a finished piece but you'll never have to maintain anything. Where I live in the US I have yet to see a wooden kids toy's that had a finish, unless they are painted.

Bee's wax and mineral oil will require maintenance, if this were my business i wouldn't want to deal with the inevitable negative product feedback. It'd be what I'd use for my own stuff but a consumer isn't goign to adhere to refreshing the finish regularly.

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1 hour ago, Wimayo said:

I'm no chemist or finishing expert but, my understanding is that shellac is safe. If I understand your criteria correctly, the finish does not necessarily have to survive the boiling but, just not emit any toxins. If correct, then shellac might meet your requirements.

But regularly boiling them for sterilization is part of the deal, which shellac won't stand up to well.

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3 hours ago, Chestnut said:

if this were my business i wouldn't want to deal with the inevitable negative product feedback. It'd be what I'd use for my own stuff but a consumer isn't goign to adhere to refreshing the finish regularly.

If i understand the OP, I think this is going to be a product test done by a government entity and if it passes the test then the toys can safely end up in the hands of a child.

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34 minutes ago, Chet said:

If i understand the OP, I think this is going to be a product test done by a government entity and if it passes the test then the toys can safely end up in the hands of a child.

Yep that is how I'm reading it. Don't have to worry about toxic compounds if you don't add anything to the surface of the wood. Wood is cellulose and isn't classified as a toxic substance for ingestion. Cellulose is added to food products as filler after all.

To put a finish on that will degrade quickly and never last through a wash, is just begging for negative product feedback. Trying to educate the consumer on finish reapplication isn't going to be easy or will turn away customers. I'd use a hardwood that would hold up well for a good many years and would take well to sanding to a high grit. Hard maple, cherry, or some other small pore hardwood would be my choice.

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2 hours ago, Chet said:

If i understand the OP, I think this is going to be a product test done by a government entity and if it passes the test then the toys can safely end up in the hands of a child.

That is the way I understood the OP. The coating doesn't need to survive the boiling test. It just must not emit any toxins. That is why I suggested shellac. I understand it is frequently used in the food industry as a glaze or other coating as with certain candies. Of course, the OP would need to be certain that the shellac was completely natural and contained no toxic additives.

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On 2/14/2020 at 2:27 PM, wtnhighlander said:

Another possibility for small wooden toys would be to infuse them with stabilizing resin, but that process may be more involved than you want.

Don't know about this process… Could you telle me a bit more ?

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