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Old 01-16-2013, 02:14 PM
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Howard's Feed-N-Wax and others



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This post concerns chemicals that if they get on bare wood can cause significant damage to the topcoat or finish if you prefer that word.

I would be very careful using Howard's Feed-N-Wax on a gunstock that is gonna see any repetitive usage. Howard's as well as most of the spray gel polish home waxes are basically made from Mineral Oil, which is what gives the stuff the shine. Following is from the Howard's Feed-N-Wax MSDS or Material Safety Data Sheet.



Another term for hydrotreated heavy paraffinic is Mineral Oil.

In addition, the “Citrus Additive” called “Oils, orange, sweet”, which is the “feed” in the name has nothing to do with any natural citrus chemicals and in fact is a trade name for a combination of Mineral Oil + either Mineral Spirits or Turpentine or Naptha and a fragrance. This chemical is the "Feed" in Howard's. Other names are Oils, lemon, sweet or stuff like that.

Even without the dominance of Mineral Oil in the formulation the Mineral Oil in the “feed” is enough to contaminate the wood.

There are no natural citrus oils in any of the wax products such as Pledge etc. either. Simply a synthetic combination of chemicals that are allowed to be advertised as Lemon Oils or Orange oils etc. due to a fairly benevolent set of government regulations. Natural Citrus Oils are cleaners only and do not “feed” wood. They are much too expensive to use as cleaners and even if they were not, they must be completely wiped off with the contaminants they have lifted for cleaning up. They are personal care products.

The product, HFW, is designed basically for easy use by housewives on furniture that does not suffer a lot of abuse and for that it is easy to apply, wipes off quick, and has a fair to decent combination of waxes in it which will last around 2 months or maybe longer if not in direct sunlight. Leaves a shiny somewhat oily finish, because of the Mineral Oil. Used on table tops, armoires, poly coated chairs and end tables etc. Stuff like that. “Housewife” stuff, wipe it on, wipe it off and go on to something else. The cleaners are the MS and Turpentine in the formulation.

The BAD side is the Mineral Oil.

With an intact topcoat, when you wipe off chemicals like this, you simply wipe off most of the Mineral oil cause it does not penetrate the finish and that is a good thing. The rest of the chemicals in the "Orange Oil Sweet" are simply cleaners as are real citrus oils. They don't feed wood what so ever and they are simply wiped off along with any dirt etc. that gets picked up in em. Howard's also uses an emulsifier to keep the waxes in the product in suspension and make it a gel. With intact, not scratched or severely dented topcoats then products like HFN are not an issue.

A decent product for what it is designed to do and certainly easy to apply.

If you have a scratch or some type of dent etc. that has broken through the topcoat or fractured it, even a small amount, then the problem can occur where the Mineral Oil penetrates the wood fibers and that can become a really large problem. It can, and there are many examples, contaminate the wood and cause the surrounding finish to lift and is a real you know what to get out. Generally you cannot. The wax on top of it keeps the MO from going rancid but only as long as it is reapplied regularly.

If you use any "Citrus" product or a product that is basically Mineral Oil, on factory finished wood flooring you immediately void the warranty.

An Example of HFN causing problems in a topcoat or finish if you like that word better.



The notes are not mine but rather a woodworking associate that posted on a forum with the thread name of “What the h^ll happened”.

A fundamental issue is if you keep applying stuff like this is how will you know that you topcoat has been compromised? Won't until it is too late in most cases and when it does, you cannot get the MO out of the wood even with sanding, which will not allow any normal topcoat to bond well. The only thing you can do in most cases is the put on a barrier/bonding coating which will be Shellac.

Here are some excerpts from articles etc. that go into the dangers of Mineral Oil.

"Mineral Oil is a petroleum product that will stay in a "tacky" liquid state forever.

Mineral Oil when combined with a previous finish acts as a plasticizer, and the resulting finish will be softer and less durable than it would be without the oil and many times can cause the previous finish to lift.

A personal opinion that may not be shared by many others is that - If you wouldn't put motor oil on your wood, why would you use Mineral Oil? Mineral Oil is nothing more then a highly refined form of motor oil. "


Not my statements but from a Woodworkers journal article which says it better than I can and essentially said by a number of professional woodworkers over the years

TRIVIA: Forget the wood issues but see below

"Mineral Oil

A derivative of crude oil (petroleum) that is used industrially as a cutting fluid and lubricating oil. Mineral oil forms an oily film over the skin to lock in moisture, toxins and wastes, but hinders normal skin respiration by keeping oxygen out. It blocks the pores and the skin’s natural respiration.

Petrolatum distilates are listed as a probable human carcinogen in the European Union’s Dangerous Substances Directive and is linked to cancers such as breast cancer. It is toxic to the nervous system and depending on manufacturing processes can contain many harmful contaminants such as PAHs.

John Hopkins University named mineral oil in cosmetics and moisturizers as the number two cause of aging. The first being direct exposure to the sun.The result is premature aging and increased health risks.

Mineral oil may also cause allergic reactions and dryness. It traps dirt and bacteria and blocks the absorption of vitamins/minerals/botanicals that may be in a product.

Mineral oil is popular with manufacturers because it is inexpensive and makes skin smoother and softer to the touch and more attractive to the eye. Unfortunately, the damage that is being caused behind the scene makes it an undesirable ingredient in any skin care product.

Thanks to companies like Johnson’s (Johnson & Johnson), unconscious parents are putting petroleum on their precious new baby’s skin, causing the skin to become hard and dry."


Or

"The Known Dangers of Mineral Oil

After the innovation of fractional distillation, many different by-products were derived from petroleum. Though these by-products were inflammable and had a high calorific value, they were virtually useless, until manufacturers started using them in cosmetics and home appliances. One of the biggest drawbacks of using mineral oil as a cosmetic, is that it is a foreign application or an alien coating on the human skin and it tends to form a thin layer on the skin, that resembles a layer of plastic. The human skin is an organ that plays a vital role in the production of vitamin D, in the cooling down of the body temperature and in the ejection of toxins from the body. The thin plastic-like layer that appears on the skin, drastically slows down the generation of vitamin D. When the human skin is exposed to the sunlight, it produces vitamin D, which is needed by the body. The mineral oil film on the skin, prevents it from doing so. The ejection of toxins through the skin is also prevented and this is not very healthy. Sometimes as the sweating process is hampered, the human body also takes a very long time to cool down. The deposition of oil on the skin, accompanied by the salt and minerals that are present on the human skin, can cause skin itching. An itchy skin can develop into unwanted and painful skin rashes.

In researches related to the excessive use of mineral oil, it has been discovered that the excessive use on the skin of infants and old people, at times causes pneumonia like conditions. It is strongly recommended that pregnant women, stop the use of mineral oil-based cosmetics as well as home appliances, as even the tiny droplets that are inhaled can prove to be dangerous. This is because of a good chance of the development of pneumonia or other allergic reactions.

There are also some very rare side effects of the use of mineral oil, that include nausea, vomiting and also continuous sneezing. Though the side effects are not fatally dangerous, it is always advisable to remain cautious. Some of the less common side effects, also include the malfunctioning of the digestive system and restricted bowel movement.

So, why do manufacturers of such products use mineral oil? Simple answer, mineral oil is just a by-product and is of virtually no value to the oil refinery. Thus the manufacturers of these products get to purchase it at very reasonable prices. The free-flowing property of the oil make it an excellent raw material in the manufacturing of such products. Occasional use may be good for health, but continuous use is equally unhealthy. AMA paper.


Wanna be putting your cheek or hands on that stuff every time you shoot your rifle?

The best wax for any topcoat is a natural ingredient paste wax without any petroleum based or petroleum assisted additives including stuff to make the product a gel. HFW and other “Citrus Additive” waxes also have petroleum additives.

Paste waxes go on as easy as the gelled waxes but they do need to be buffed. How much and how hard it is to buff depends on the product.

The best of these is Renaissance Wax which is made with 100% natural waxes but refined in such a manner as to make the product micro crystallized which simply means a smaller particle size. Smaller is good. Goes on as easy as Howard's. Has a finish that approaches some topcoats in hardness. Invented for museums. Looks expensive but per application is not cause you only need a teensy bit per coat.

Can get at places like WoodCraft or on the INTERNET. After Renaissance comes BriWax and then the rest of the paste waxes kinda lump into the same performance category and the good old Johnsons' Paste Wax is right up there in "ratings" on performance but still is a pain to buff out. Good stuff though but they are all 2nd tier products compared to the champ.

Gunstocks, which are normally subjected to more abuse than table tops, really need different types of waxes then say furniture and that should be kept in mind by shooters. You don't want stuff that is synthetic in nature. No Citrus additives. No gels. No sprays. No silicone stuff and especially no Automotive waxes as they are specifically designed for metal and the expansion and contraction of that. They contain a large amount of Silicone and other chemicals that are simply not good for wood.

While people have had success with this product and others like it, that success does not alter the chemical properties of these types of products.

noremf(George)

Last edited by noremf; 01-13-2017 at 02:35 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 04-16-2021, 12:33 PM
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Thanks.
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Old 04-16-2021, 02:14 PM
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Welcome To RFC! Sadly George passed away and we miss him. Thankfully he left us with lots of good information. He was a heck of a guy.
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Old 04-16-2021, 08:00 PM
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Welcome To RFC! Sadly George passed away and we miss him. Thankfully he left us with lots of good information. He was a heck of a guy.
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Old 06-05-2021, 09:17 AM
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If it matters to anyone...

Howard's Feed N Wax has 65-75% mineral oil. Mineral oil is FDA approved for food and direct contact with skin.

Ren Wax has 80% white spirts (aka mineral spirits). White spirits is not FDA approved for food or direct contact with skin.
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Old 06-05-2021, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Plinkhead View Post
If it matters to anyone...

Howard's Feed N Wax has 65-75% mineral oil. Mineral oil is FDA approved for food and direct contact with skin.

Ren Wax has 80% white spirts (aka mineral spirits). White spirits is not FDA approved for food or direct contact with skin.
I'm going with the wood finish company chemist on this one. George warned against it, and I'm listening.
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Old 06-05-2021, 11:25 AM
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If it matters to anyone...

Howard's Feed N Wax has 65-75% mineral oil. Mineral oil is FDA approved for food and direct contact with skin.

Ren Wax has 80% white spirts (aka mineral spirits). White spirits is not FDA approved for food or direct contact with skin.
Not rubbing Howard's on my skin or my wood, thanks. I tried Howard's decades ago, it's junk. I learned an awful lot from George and enjoyed our P.M. interactions here.
Believe whatever suits you.
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Old 06-06-2021, 06:46 AM
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Not rubbing Howard's on my skin or my wood, thanks. I tried Howard's decades ago, it's junk. I learned an awful lot from George and enjoyed our P.M. interactions here.
Believe whatever suits you.
I also tried Howard's and concluded it was junk. When George showed up his post about it told me why it was junk. Not only was he very knowlegable about wood finishes and such and he was also helpful. I e-mailed him with a couple of questions and he responded quickly with an answer both times.
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Old 06-10-2021, 03:21 AM
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I was posting only of health considerations. The sticky has a big statement about how unsafe mineral oil is in Howards...but It doesn't mention 80% of Ren wax is made of equally or more toxic mineral spirits. In reality the exposure threshold values for either product are not even a close health threat when used as intended on guns or furniture.

Mineral oil was outlawed in the UK, (not the rest of the world outside of the USA) ONLY for cosmetics because they had no controls on the quality of mineral oil being used.
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