Can I use olive oil to oil our wooden book shelves. They are made from salvaged tropical wood. We live in a cold and dry climate (in Canada), and were told to oil them twice a year.
Volatile oils will evaporate in a few days or weeks, "fixed" oils are more resistant to evaporation. Most vegetable cooking oils are classified as fixed oils. However, if you set out a container of most cooking oils, it would partially evaporate very slowly over months to years leaving a sticky varnish. You can see this varnish on the sides of pots and baking pans where the process has been speeded up by heat. A colorless, odorless cheap refined olive oil would probably work but the smell as it slowly oxidizes on your bookshelf and goes rancid may be potent. Linseed oil is a favorite vegetable oil for wood and much cheaper than olive oil and generally colorless. I would stick with the advice of a paint professional and keep the olive oil in the kitchen.
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