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
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.
Beeswax is also a popular choice for cutting board maintenance. 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.
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 oils 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.
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 creams and oils often contain a mixture of carnauba, beeswax, and mineral oil.
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.
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.
How do you take care of your wooden cutting board?