Protect wood surfaces with this polish made from lemons, beeswax, and olive oil.

“I use this on my antique wood table and cutting boards but also as a salve for my hands and on leather gardening boots,” says Stefani Bittner, owner of San Francisco Bay Area’s Homestead Design Collective and co-author of Harvest: Unexpected Projects Using 47 Extraordinary Garden Plants. “It’s really versatile.”

Prep time: 25 minutes, plus 1 to 2 weeks infusing time

Thomas J. Story


  • 8 to 10 organic lemons
  • 2 cups organic olive oil
  • 2 oz. beeswax, gently chopped


  • Knife and cutting board
  • 32-oz. glass jar with lid, plus an additional smaller jar
  • Fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth
  • Double boiler, nonreactive
  • Wooden spoon
  • Measuring cup or cup with a spout
  • Tins (2-oz. and 4-oz. sizes work well)

1. Harvest

Pick lemons from your garden or source them from a local organic grower.

2. Clean

Wash lemons thoroughly and let dry completely. Using a sharp knife or peeler, cut thin slivers of peel into long ribbons. Be sure to avoid the white pith as much as possible.

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3. Pack

Add peels to a sterilized 32-oz. glass jar until they are snug. Pour in just enough olive oil to cover the peels. Secure the lid tightly, shake, and store near a warm sunny window to let infuse for 1 to 2 weeks. Shake mixture every day or so.

4. Strain

Strain the peels using a strainer or cheesecloth. Pour the oil into a clean glass jar.

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5. Make

Pour 1 cup of infused lemon oil into the top pot of a double boiler. Heat water in the bottom pot to a gentle simmer. Add 1 oz. of chopped beeswax. (If you’re making more, add 1 oz. beeswax for every cup of lemon oil. More beeswax will create a harder polish.) Stir occasionally until fully dissolved. Carefully pour hot polish into tins. Let cool completely.

6. Use

With a clean, dry cloth, add a small amount of polish to the wood surface and rub it in a circular motion. Continue buffing until the polish has been absorbed into the wood (be sure to do a test spot first as this polish may not be suitable for every type of wood finish). Store tins in a cool spot; the polish will keep for up to 1 year.

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