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What Type of Oils are Safe to Use on Your Cutting Board?

Type of Oils for Cutting Board Care

There is much conflicting information regarding which oils and substances are appropriate for use to safely maintain cutting boards or butcher blocks. This following list will help identify which products you should use to both sanitize and keep your board looking beautiful for years to come.

Safe and Recommended

1. Mineral Oil

Mineral oil (sometimes called liquid paraffin) is a non-toxic, non-drying product derived from petroleum that is colorless, odorless, and flavorless. Its properties prevent water absorption, which makes food-grade mineral oil (as determined by the Federal Drug Administration) a popular choice for wooden kitchen items such as wooden spoons, bowls, and, of course, cutting boards and butcher blocks. The key word here is food-safe, as there are types of mineral oils that are not safe for human consumption; these are often used as lubricants for machinery or found in auto or hardware stores.

If you are worried about selecting the right mineral oil, product labeled as “white mineral oil” are considered food safe, as these are refined to a certain degree past other oils. Always make sure to carefully read the product's labeling if you are unsure about its proper use.

2. Beeswax

Beeswax is one of the most popular cutting board creams. Its a natural wax produced in the bee hives of honey bees and has a variety of applications. Use beeswax to hydrate, shine, and waterproof a cutting board.

3. Coconut Oil (Refractionated)

Coconut oils have recently become highly popular for a variety of purposes, especially in beauty, because it is rich is saturated fats that are good for skin health.

Unfortunately, all fats exposed to air eventually go rancid and coconut oil is not immune (even though some bloggers claim otherwise). However, a select group of coconut oil is refined using a refractionation process, which is a fancy way of staying that the oils have been steam distilled.

During this distillation process, coconut oil is separated so that the long-chain triglycerides (LCT) are removed and only the medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are left. This leaves an almost pure oil that will NOT go rancid, is shelf stable and is superior to most other oils for treating not just cutting boards, but your kitchen utensils, salad bowls, countertops... you get the idea.

4. Carnauba

Also known as Brazil wax, this wax is derived from the leaves of a palm tree native to Brazil. Sometimes called “the queen of waxes,” carnauba is prized for its glossy finish and water resistance and is often used in automobile waxes, polishes, cosmetics, and even dental floss. Like beeswax, commercially available cutting board oils and creams often contain a mixture of carnauba, beeswax, and mineral oil.

5. Baking Soda

What can't be baking soda be used for? You can safely use baking soda to remove stubborn stains from a cutting board or butcher block. Sprinkle baking soda over the offensive spot and rub with a cloth, brush, or sponge dipped in hot water.

6. Lemon Juice

If your board begins to smell, one of the easiest tricks is to cut a lemon in half and run it across the entire surface. The ascorbic acid in the lemon both reacts with and oxidizes organic material (bacteria and fats) that are the cause of smells and stains. The natural lemon oil also forces any soluble materials to be removed as well.

7. Tung Oil

Tung oil is extracted from the Tung tree with origins from Southern China. Whether you are dealing with butcher blocks countertops or bamboo cutting boards, you can use it to achieve a satin look with a slight golden tint.

Since it is made from nut oil, and some people are terribly allergic to it, caution should be employed during application.

This oil is also used in paints and varnishes, and when used this way, it contains toxic chemicals since it's not meant for human consumption or contact with food. As such, you should only buy 100% pure oil for your cutting board, which is safe for your family's health.

Commercial Cutting Board Oils

1. John Boos Mystery Oil

John Boos is a brand that has existed for over a century, and you can be sure its cutting board oil is unparalleled, safe and designed to ensure that the wood cutting boards last longer. It is a US based product, made by a brand that specializes in making wood cutting boards, further guaranteeing you exceptional quality.

You should apply John Boos cutting board oil after around three to four weeks of using your cutting board. You can also know it's time to use the board oil when the cutting board feels lighter and looks dry.

Even better, an independent research by the University of Illinois confirmed that Boos Block Mystery Oil and Board Cream has antimicrobial properties that reduce bacterial level to a clean level, after 3 hours of application. This leaves a hygienic working surface for food handling, and reduce chances of food related infections.

2. Howard Cutting Board Oil

Howard wood cutting board oil contains odorless, tasteless, clear, pure food grade oil. It is designed to penetrate deep into the wood fibers, and it's enriched with vitamin E meaning it will never go rancid. It's a US-made product, under strict quality controls with no contact with gluten or nuts, or other potentially allergenic materials.

Howard wood cutting board oil also meets FDA requirements regarding food contact and it's safe for all food preparation surfaces, including butcher blocks, wooden bowls, counter tops, and other utensils.

This oil penetrates deep into wood pores to prevent cracking and drying, and also bring the natural wooden look, enhancing the longevity of the cutting board.

3. Food Grade Mineral Oil

Food Grade mineral oil, is one of the best cutting board oil. It can also be used on butcher blocks, utensils, wood products or salad bowls.

It is pure USP, light mineral oil with the highest quality, designed for food use and has a tamper seal. As a US-made product, you can be sure of the stringent quality measures.

Food Grade mineral oil is designed to protect and restore wood. It will penetrate, seal and hydrate your wood products, preventing drying and cracking, which reduce usability and durability.

This oil also works well with soapstone, granite, garden equipment, knives and more!

4. Ultimate Walnut Oil by Mahoney's Finishes

Mahoney's Walnut oil is a multi-purpose oil that offers a unique satin shine on butchers blocks and cutting boards. This cutting board oil is designed for easy and convenient application, thanks to its smart design nozzle.

It can be used on all wood surfaces - it is easily absorbed by the cutting board, to penetrate deep in the wood pores, and dry within a few hours, leaving a well-protected surface.

The application process is quite simple. When you've applied this walnut oil, and wiped off the excess oil, allow it to dry for several hours or even overnight. If this becomes one of your kitchen routines, you'll forget about dull cutting boards, or even cracked ones.

Besides doing an awesome job on your boards, Mahoney's oil is made with your family's health as a top priority. You'll not need to worry about chemical substances or toxic smells that can render your wood cutting board harmful for health or unfit for food contact and handling.

5. Bayes High-Performance Food Grade Mineral Oil 

Bayes High-Performance is high-quality oil for cutting board. It acts as an exceptional protectant and conditioner of wood or bamboo surfaces, to maintain a beautiful and a natural on all wood cutting board, utensils as well as accessories.

Just normal washing with water and detergent and drying can crack your cutting board, rendering it unusable.

Bayes mineral oil is an eco-responsible product made from biodegradable and non-toxic products, without harsh chemicals, making it suitable for food contact surfaces. And it is made in USA, meaning it upholds stringent quality measures and it's safe for your family's health.

How to Apply Oils on Your Cutting Board

Since you've selected the right cutting board oil that helps prevent cracking and warping, the next thing you want to make sure you do right, is application. The following general steps are important to keep in mind.

  • Start the oiling process by ensuring that the cutting board has been well-washed with enough water, and has dried well.
  • Apply the oil with a nozzle, if it's provided or a paper towel. Ensure the amount is adequate and spread it well on the wood surface.
  • If you apply excess oil, you can use a paper towel to wipe off or a clean kitchen towel.
  • Leave the wooden cutting board to dry for several hours or over night, depending on the product you are using. You should read the instructions on the product regarding application and the drying time.

Cutting Boards Care and Maintenance

1. A dishwasher is a NO.

Since a cutting board is made from natural wood, it's susceptible to warping, and the dishwasher makes it even worse. In the dishwasher, the cutting board is made super hot and wet, and cooled down super quickly, under high temperature. The result is corrosive junk from dishwater detergent and also cracking from the fast heating and cooling.

2. Don't dry a wooden cutting board on a flat surface

Once you wash your board, dry the excess water with a kitchen towel and put it vertically on the rack to dry. If you place it on a flat surface, the side on the bottom will store excess water and the top side dries and shrinks faster. This process over time causes bending of the wood, commonly known as warping, and reduces it functionality.

With the bending, you can not work on the board on a flat surface.

3. Clean the Board after use

Do you want your board to last longer? You should make it your routine to clean immediately after use. Since the board comes into contact with food, it's not always recommended to use detergents, unless you've used it to cut fish, chicken or other meats.

4. Oil the Wood Cutting Board

If you want to maintain the wood fibers of the board in an optimum condition, oiling should be part of your routine. The best oils are odorless, colorless and 100% safe for humans.

Depending on the frequency of use, monthly oiling is enough, but if you use the board frequently, fortnight oiling is recommended.

5. Do not use Bleach

While bleach is used variously in the kitchen, you shouldn't use it to clean your board. It's known to cause excess drying or stains on the board.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is is okay to use olive oil on my cutting board?

Well, there are many schools of thought on this and some people claim to have used the oil and it's working fine. However, if you apply olive oil on wood surfaces, there's scientific evidence that suggests that it goes rancid, as such not a good pick for your cutting board.

Is vegetable oil a good option for oiling my board?

No. Just like olive, vegetable cooking oils it will go rancid. If you are using it, consider stopping and buying mineral oils instead.

Which Cutting board oil should buy?

With many and awesome cutting board creams and oils, one of the ways of knowing the best product is through customer review. You may check what previous customers are saying about the product and get an idea of what you want to buy.

Also consider the oils' properties. For example, clear, odorless and tasteless oils are best for kitchen tools.

You also want oils and creams that are easy to use.

Is a Butcher Block Shop Good for buying Cutting Board Oil?

A butcher block shop that makes and sells wood including cutting surfaces and butcher boards is one of the places you can be sure to get a good cutting board oil. The reason is, they understand the structure of the wood board, and know which products will keep the wood fibers best and maintain the wood color.

Why Should I use Cutting Board Oil?

You should use cutting board oil to maintain the natural wood color, prevent cracking from excess drying and increase the durability of kitchen tools such as wood countertops, and cutting boards.

Some cutting board oils and creams have antibacterial properties to keep disease causing micro-organisms at bay and maintain high hygiene standards in your food handling surfaces.

 

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Chef Maryam Ghargharechi

Chef Maryam Ghargharechi

She is accomplished as a red seal chef and member of WACS, CCFCC, and BC Chefs' Association.

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