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Unfinished vs. finished wood for mash paddle?

Hi, everyone. I hope you’ll forgive my ignorance for this post but I’m totally lost and need some info.

I want to do something special for my husband and he is an avid home brewer. I wanted to get him a custom made wooden mash paddle (possibly made by a family member). I’ve noticed a lot of home brewers have made theirs from maple and I understand it needs to be made from hard wood with small pores so I figured maple is a good choice. My issue now is whether or not to have the wood finished.

Many people have said that the wood won’t transfer flavored to the beer, so that’s fine - but many also finish their wood with a food grade mineral oil, which sounds great but I’ve heard this could affect the beer’s head retention. <— I do not! Want to be the reason why my husband is complaining that his beer doesn’t have a nice head or decent lacing or anything like that. He’s very particular with this.

So, I’d like to know - is this mineral oil tale true? Should I still attempt to seal the wood or would it be fine unfinished? Right now, he has a plastic one (meh) so we have no experience or knowledge on the wooden ones. Since this is going to be a surprise, I can’t exactly ask him what he would think. Any and all advice is welcome!!

Thanks guys!

Maple is a good choice and the paddle should be left unfinished.
Thats a great present and I’m sure he will love it.

Great! I’m so glad I asked. Thanks a lot!

Maple. Unfinished. Butcher block treatment (mineral, walnut, whatever-oil) are unnecessary for a mash paddle. I can’t say for a fact if the old wives tales are true but why bother? Any treatment is just adding one more variable to an otherwise relatively controlled setup, AND no matter what you could treat a mash paddle with, it will NEVER withstand the high temperature submersion that will undergo. He’ll love it, I’d bet my Blichmann on it. AND you’ll get the prize for most supportive brewing wife :wink:

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