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Cooking oil that jumps from a frying pan in use and over time accumulates around the frying pan on a wooden surface is sticky and hard to remove.

My question is why. Why is it hard to remove? What is the chemistry behind it? Does it bond with the wood somehow? If so, how is it different from oil used to give the wood a protective coating? Why is one sticky and the other not sticky?

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This site explains the use of oil on wood fairly well:

Oil is made of molecules small enough to seep down into the wood rather than merely sit on top. As a result, oil makes wood look richer and more translucent without adding a film on the surface. There are two different types of oils that woodworkers use: drying and non-drying oils. Drying oils will change from liquid to a solid film when exposed to oxygen in the air. Nut oils (boiled linseed, tung, etc.) are drying oils, but vegetable (peanut, olive) and mineral oils are non-drying. Edible mineral oil is popular on food contact items, like cutting boards. However, non-drying oils stay wet indefinitely, and they will wash off when the board is scrubbed with soap and water. Because they do not dry to a solid film, non-drying oils are considered a wood treatment, but not a finish.

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  • $\begingroup$ I know this is old, but it seems non-trivial to simply scrub off and remove with "soap and water". This leads me to believe that even non-drying oils undergo some chemical process that make it more sticky, without making it completely solid like a drying oil. $\endgroup$ – AttributedTensorField Jun 4 '16 at 12:23

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