Forum for Yunzi

Choosing the right oil [#858]

Back to forum     Back to page

New reply

blubb: Choosing the right oil (2007-01-27 15:19) [#3029]

The Ready Set Go tutorial suggests machine oil. You might not want to use just any machine oil though, unless you appreciate odors that resemble a metalworking shop when sipping a good tea during your game. Usually, machine oil is not rectified as to make it physiologically harmless, either.

Amongst technical oils, the best suited I know is [ext] Ballistol. Its base component is liquid paraffine of pharmaceutical purity. In fact, Ballistol has been an approved medicament in Germany for a long time. Also, unlike many vegetable oils (see below), it does not have the slightest tendency to gum. Its few additives are all natural and non-poisonous. The product has a light scent, due to the etherical oils contained therein.

Personally, I prefer vegetable oils for my own set of Yunzi. They need to be non-drying, but that's no biggie as long as the stones are re-oiled frequently (so the oil film is exchanged before it coagulates). Most nutritional oils, e. g. sunflower, rapeseed or soy oil (let alone linseed or the like), are at least semi-drying. This means that over time, their thin films oxidize to a solid, more or less gelatinous coating. On the other hand, olive, almond or jojoba oil are generally non-drying and hence fine, as are most other oils skin care products use to be based on. Nevertheless, even these oils get rancid some day, so the stones should be cared about from time to time.

TheCount: 3-in-one (2007-04-13 02:18) [#3295]

I used some "3-in-one" oil because I was impatient and it was all I had. I think you would typically use this to lubricate bicycle chains. It doesn't sound like a good choice, but it was a very runny oil. I think the point of machine oil is that it is runny. Anyway, as far as I can tell it's absolutely fine and I think it actually has a delicious smell. So, although I know nothing about oil, I would say that if you can find a runny oil then it will work fine.

reply Huge glaring flaws? (2010-02-27 13:12) [#7347]

Vegetable oils should absolutely not be used on Go stones. Sewing machine oil is recommended from YMI. It's also a very real option to allow your fingers to naturally oil them over time.

tapir: ((no subject)) (2010-02-28 14:59) [#7357]

i use ballistol as well. it is fine and harmless (and people playing trumpets, trombones etc. are using it as well).

reply mineral oil (2010-10-05 19:53) [#8025]

Mineral oil works well. It is colorless, odorless, safe, and commonly available in drugstores and supermarkets.

reply Machine oil (2011-06-25 12:38) [#8620]

Be sure to check the warnings on the back of the machine oil. I almost bought one with a cancer warning. O_o

reply Second vote for mineral oil (2011-11-18 18:52) [#8859]

I opted for mineral oil for my Yunzi stones because it is non-toxic--in fact, it is recommended as a laxative! (supply your own joke about go and constipation ;-) Something about using machine oil seemed downright wrong, as hands will scratch noses, rub eyes, eat sandwiches, etc. so why invite adverse outcomes?

As others have mentioned, a little oil goes a long way--don't over-oil! Also, unlike other materials used for white stones (i.e. glossy glass or genuine shell) both light and dark Yunzi stones benefit from an oiling--they get this nice, velvety sheen which is very easy on the eyes.

reply Mineral Oils (note the 's' makes it plural) (2012-04-04 17:13) [#9316]

It is worth noting that Ballistol, 3-in-1 oil, and machine oil are all mineral oils. All mineral oils are petroleum distillates. Mineral oil is a rather generic term and covers many grades of products, from untreated industrial mineral oil, mildly-treated oils, to highly-refined mineral oil used as a base for baby oil, cosmetics, butcher block treatment, and laxatives. If you want the "safest" type of oil, get an oil that is classified as safe for food preparation. Mineral oil, even the "good stuff" is dirt cheap and can be bought at any pharmacy. If you want to use that sewing machine oil sitting in the back of your closet, your stones will turn out the same, you will just get a few more less-than-desirable chemicals going along for the ride. Even food grade oils are not "pure" and every time you fill your car you are inhaling these same chemicals in much higher doses.

If you decide to go the "Totally Safe" rout and use a vegetable oil, you can clean you stones periodically by boiling them.

reply Choosing the right oil [#858] how about choji oil? (2013-09-07 11:32) [#9844]

I might suggest a really pure clear thin oil made for my katana care called choji. it is expensive compared to sewing machine oil, but it is a natural oil that does not turn rancid in my opinion. It is a combination of clove and camellia oil, and leaves a nice scent. If it is safe enough to oil my 250 year old sword, than it should be safe for (any) type o go stones I would assume. You can find it online (like eBay for example). It is the same one sold in sword care kits, so if you find a place that sells those, they should have larger bottles of just the oil. What do you think?

Here are some useful links (active as of 09/07/13)




They suggest using 1% clove to 99% mineral now. I would do 10%/90%, also I would use camellia, not mineral (not good for the wood), but if you have to, do a mixture.

Also do not use so much oil that it comes off on your board. Too much of ANY oil on unsealed wood will cause it to check (split). Also as a woodworker, I will suggest right now to never use ANY SILICONE based oils on ANY WOOD items you own. It may be good for metal, but if it gets into the pores of the wood, it will never come out, not even with furniture stripper. When refinishing an item that has had silicone in it, the new sprayed finish will "fish eye". Because of this only a hand rubbed finish will ever be usable on the wood in the future. I just share this because some of you may want to consider what the oils on your stones can do to your boards. A cheap board may not be an issue to you, but a $1500 goban can be ruined this way. Just trying to help.

Also I love your site, but a huge ton of external links are no longer up. Hopefully these can be replaced. In the future, think about saving remote content locally for the site, (with permission of the original owner) so that it will be available if the original site goes down. Thanks a lot... NekoYuki_Kun (new Go enthusiast) @yahoo

reply ((no subject)) (2015-01-15 21:33) [#10375]

Tea tree oil works well too, but it's expensive.

X Re: ((no subject)) (2015-02-25 06:17) [#10407]

What about hand lotion?

reply Mineral oil (2017-02-12 00:45) [#10898]

The yunzi stone manufacturer recommends mineral oil. It is not harmful. It is a moisturizer in cosmetics. Baby oil is mineral oil with a bit of perfume. It doesn't oxidize or spoil. Many other oils mentioned here are mineral oils with additives that make them more suited for mechanical devices (thickeners, detergents) which do not apply to a yunzi stone, but probably don't hurt them either. I would stick with cheap, plain, drugstore mineral oil. Add a bit of scent oil, like clove, if it is attractive to you. I would not use mineral oil on a go board.

2607:fea8:12e0:2b5f: Synthetic Oil vs. Mineral Oil (2020-01-18 16:40) [#11485]

I used SCHWINN Bicycle Lube because I was so impatient. Bottle says "Contains non-toxic synthetic oils". It also says "shake well" which I forgot to do.

I always thought there is something about "mineral oil", but according to Wikipedia, both types are derived primarily from petroleum (and sometimes modified vegetable oil). Don't make mistake: "mineral oil" from ZINGER could be made from vegetable oil, and "Baby Oil" could be derived from petroleum. I believe "mineral oil" is mostly "paraffin", so it doesn't smell.

I also have special modified almond oil at home to oil cutting boards, wood dishes, etc.; and for sure it won't rancid; it is modified oil.

And all types of thee oils will smell; will dry too; smell will dissipate over time, and stones will be covered with film from your fingers' oil; etc... so I am not worried about smell.

Seven00111: I have always used food grade mineral oil, but it's not perfect (2021-10-23 08:02) [#11903]

I don't know if it's just me, but after a few days of regular use (around 5), the stones begin to show spots with a very smooth texture, but irregular in shape and with a dirty appearance. This can only be seen with the naked eye with black stones but is felt equally on white stones.

In particular, I suffer from dry hands, so I doubt it is due to the sweat on my hands. The humidity of my city is regular and not at all obsessive. I suspect that maybe the dust in my house will be involved in some way.

-I sound like an old man saying this-

reply Vaseline hair tonic? (2021-12-27 05:33) [#11987]

This may seem an odd thought, but has anyone used Vaseline brand hair tonic?

The ingredients are listed as "mineral oil, fragrance", the fragrance is very slight, it's a very light oil, and being a hair tonic it should be safe for skin... and of course it's very cheap and easy to get.

Back to forum     Back to page

New reply

[Welcome to Sensei's Library!]
Search position
Page history
Latest page diff
Partner sites:
Go Teaching Ladder
Login / Prefs
Sensei's Library