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I was thinking about that one Youtube video where the guy adds increasing amounts of sawdust to rice krispie treats. Sawdust is non-poisonous and indigestible, and can't be meaningfully metabolized.

Something else that (to my knowledge) shares these properties is mineral oil. Mineral oil is commonly used on cutting boards and knives, so food-grade mineral oil is easy to find and acquire. However, I don't know much about the other specifics.

Overall I have three questions.

  1. Is it possible to cook with mineral oil? (Ignoring any matters of food safety, does it have the same properties as other cooking oils?)
  2. Could someone confirm that mineral oil cannot be metabolized into energy?
  3. Besides acting as a laxative*, are there any other interactions with the body that would make mineral oil undesirable to have in food?

*It's a lubricant laxative, not a stimulant, so this isn't as horrible. When taken intentionally for this, a single dose is between one and three tablespoons.

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  • Welcome to SA! Most of your question has already been answered here: cooking.stackexchange.com/q/88648/7180. If that doesn't address your question, please modify your ask to emphasize the new things you want to know.
    – FuzzyChef
    Jun 27, 2023 at 17:32
  • Does this answer your question? Is it safe to cook with food grade mineral oil?
    – FuzzyChef
    Jun 27, 2023 at 17:32
  • Also, while eating sawdust is non-toxic (depending on the origin of the sawdust), it's not exactly easy on your digestive system.
    – FuzzyChef
    Jun 27, 2023 at 17:34
  • @FuzzyChef Unfortunately not. I am already aware that it is used as a laxative. I mentioned that in the question, even, and specifically excluded it from the answers I was searching for. I was searching for other information.
    – Brian Zhu
    Jun 27, 2023 at 18:37
  • 1
    And 2) and 3) are off topic here, as they are about health and nutrition.
    – Stephie
    Jun 28, 2023 at 9:58

1 Answer 1

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First, food-grade mineral oil is a petroleum product, so while it may be Generally Regarded As Safe, that doesn't make it healthful to consume. Also, GRAS testing is based on expected consumption quantities, which is a couple of tablespoons, and not continuing usage for more than a couple of days. Using it as a cooking oil regularly would exceed that exposure, which means that you could be exposed to cancer risks or other problems that have not been studied.

Olestra, another non-digestible fat, caused chronic bowel issues and blocked some vitamins. It's very possible that using mineral oil would cause a lot of the same problems, but it hasn't been studied.

There's also the problem that standard food-grade mineral oil, as you would buy in the pharmacy or the cutting board shop, has a very low flash point, as low as 335F, which means that it would likely catch fire if you tried to fry anything in it*. There are food-grade mineral oils with higher flash points, but I suspect that they are much more expensive.

(* this is also why mineral oil is not recommended for seasoning cast iron)

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