Caring for a cutting board

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John Loftis

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Seems like good advice, overall. I don't see anything I disagree with. The one clarification I'd offer is about oiling-- when oiling an end grain butcher block, you REALLY pour it on. The little tablespoon they dribbled on the board might be fine for an edge grain board, but an equivalent end grain board could hold as much as 12 ounces of oil.

David and I disagreed on this topic, by the way. He was always concerned about over-oiling, I think mostly because he was frugal. I am absolutely, 100% convinced there is no such thing as too much oil. Under-oiling is a rampant problem that can easily lead to warping and cracking, so I'd rather see folks load up their boards with oil than not.

Thanks much for sharing!
 

ian

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I bought a 1 gallon jug of mineral oil on Amazon now for under $20. I used to feel stingy with oil when I bought it specifically marketed for cutting boards (and at much higher prices), but no longer.

(Haven’t actually opened the big jug yet, but I’m already less stingy getting through the last of my fancy oil.)
 

John Loftis

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I bought a 1 gallon jug of mineral oil on Amazon now for under $20. I used to feel stingy with oil when I bought it specifically marketed for cutting boards (and at much higher prices), but no longer.

(Haven’t actually opened the big jug yet, but I’m already less stingy getting through the last of my fancy oil.)
[/
just make sure you’re using food grade or pharmacy grade stuff. Often times the larger jugs will be a veterinarian grade (or worse, industrial grade) and there is a difference in quality/safety.
 

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I use mineral oil on my Tasmanian celery wood edge grain board every few weeks. It is stunning how much oil I can get into that thing. I pour the oil on at night and spread it around such that there is a clearly visible thick film of oil all over the board. By morning, all the oil has disappeared except for maybe one or two small patches where a bit of oil still forms a visible film on the surface.

Oiling seems to be worth the effort. The woodworker who made the board warned me that warping might be an issue over time because, with changing humidity (high in summer, low in winter), the wood works all the time, and the exposure to ingredients adds moisture to the top surface continuously. But, so far, I have zero warping.

Of course, I don't have a control board next to it, so I can't check what would have happened without oiling. But I suspect that the oil helps, and I'm certain that it doesn't do any harm. It seems that the oil I keep pouring on is going some place useful, at least :)
 

John Loftis

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I use mineral oil on my Tasmanian celery wood edge grain board every few weeks. It is stunning how much oil I can get into that thing. I pour the oil on at night and spread it around such that there is a clearly visible thick film of oil all over the board. By morning, all the oil has disappeared except for maybe one or two small patches where a bit of oil still forms a visible film on the surface.

Oiling seems to be worth the effort. The woodworker who made the board warned me that warping might be an issue over time because, with changing humidity (high in summer, low in winter), the wood works all the time, and the exposure to ingredients adds moisture to the top surface continuously. But, so far, I have zero warping.

Of course, I don't have a control board next to it, so I can't check what would have happened without oiling. But I suspect that the oil helps, and I'm certain that it doesn't do any harm. It seems that the oil I keep pouring on is going some place useful, at least :)
You've got a good plan/system in place, I think.

One other thought that I read on the forums rather than coming up with myself-- dish-soap is made/marketed to remove oil ("Dawn--
, etc, etc). So logically, washing a butcher block with dish soap is going to.... remove (?) butcher block oil. (This is the moment where I wonder quietly and briefly what an oil-attacking dish soap actually does to the oil...then I lose interest and go back to chewing my cud.) The solution I've heard proposed is to use diluted vinegar to clean boards rather than dish soap. That plan also makes sense to me, and I suspect it would lessen the amount of oil needed for butcher block upkeep. I buy oil by the drum, so I'm not as worried about re-oiling my butcher blocks. But for others, a vinegar and water wipe-down might work well.
 

Cliff

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I seem to remember the woodworker recommended putting on a generous amount of oil, spreading it around and then buffing it a few hours later. That has been working for me. I do that when it looks a little thirsty, and then every once in awhile I put on the board butter. I tend not to use the wood board for the messiest jobs. Traditionally, people used vinegar or lemon and salt. At the end of the day, mineral oil is cheap.

ETA -- Just noticing that you made my board! It's been great. I love it.
 

banzai_burrito

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Good info in the vid. I just use whatever Walmart/target brand USP mineral oil they have. Should've seen the cashier's face when it was on sale and I bought a basket full
 

Ultrafiche

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You've got a good plan/system in place, I think.

One other thought that I read on the forums rather than coming up with myself-- dish-soap is made/marketed to remove oil ("Dawn--
, etc, etc). So logically, washing a butcher block with dish soap is going to.... remove (?) butcher block oil. (This is the moment where I wonder quietly and briefly what an oil-attacking dish soap actually does to the oil...then I lose interest and go back to chewing my cud.) The solution I've heard proposed is to use diluted vinegar to clean boards rather than dish soap. That plan also makes sense to me, and I suspect it would lessen the amount of oil needed for butcher block upkeep. I buy oil by the drum, so I'm not as worried about re-oiling my butcher blocks. But for others, a vinegar and water wipe-down might work well.
John,

Do you think it's fine from a sanitary standpoint to leave a butcher block in situ and to clean it by spraying it down with a vinegar solution followed by a wipe down (vs. washing it down in the sink)?

I'd love to get a board from you guys, but can't fit the size I want into the sink!
 

John Loftis

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Good info in the vid. I just use whatever Walmart/target brand USP mineral oil they have. Should've seen the cashier's face when it was on sale and I bought a basket full
The only difference with the pharmacy stuff is viscosity (and price). Ironically, the stuff sold in the pharmacy is much less expensive, but also much more viscous. So it won't penetrate the wood fibers quite as much, but still should work just fine.
 

John Loftis

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John,

Do you think it's fine from a sanitary standpoint to leave a butcher block in situ and to clean it by spraying it down with a vinegar solution followed by a wipe down (vs. washing it down in the sink)?

I'd love to get a board from you guys, but can't fit the size I want into the sink!
I do. In our kitchen, our walnut butcher block is integral to the island itself, so there's no way to wash it in the sink. Washing it in place with soap and water or vinegar in water is just fine.
 
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Do boards dry out over time ? 2nd house in another state/summer retreat. While I keep my boards oiled well, always amazed that coming back 6-7 months later, with no -usage-, when I go to oil up the boards, they seem thirsty. Does mineral oil dissipate/evaporate, with with the -final coat- being a butter board mix as the last app, before -storage-
 

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I clean the board with vineagar. Almost never with detergent.

If it needs to be sanitised I use either a quarternary ammonium sanitiser (benzalkonium in Au) 1% peroxide then rinse with water or vinegar.

I use pharmacy grade parrfin because it's cheap and the board uses a lot of it. Works well. Then wax with a teaspoon or two of board conditioner (just beeswax melted in parrafin), then wipe off.
 

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Do boards dry out over time ? 2nd house in another state/summer retreat. While I keep my boards oiled well, always amazed that coming back 6-7 months later, with no -usage-, when I go to oil up the boards, they seem thirsty. Does mineral oil dissipate/evaporate, with with the -final coat- being a butter board mix as the last app, before -storage-
I think it's much the same as with wooden furniture: whether you put things on top of it or not, it needs to be oiled regularly, otherwise the wood dries out and becomes prone to cracking.
 

valdim

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For my end grain block I am using natural thick finishing oil with beeswax and carnauba, which contains real boiled linseed oil combined with natural waxes and carnauba wax.
Last time I heated it up in water bath (not sure I use the right term...I hope so...) and then used the kitchen silicone brush to apply it on both sides of the board. The higher temp allows the wood sells to open and accumulate easier the ingredients.
I left it like this for 2 days and wiped out (the little) excessive oil.
Now the board can take moisture and/or smelly stuff without any problem and when I wash it I see the water drops rolling down as if they are on goose feathers. :)
 

spaceconvoy

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David and I disagreed on this topic, by the way. He was always concerned about over-oiling, I think mostly because he was frugal. I am absolutely, 100% convinced there is no such thing as too much oil. Under-oiling is a rampant problem that can easily lead to warping and cracking, so I'd rather see folks load up their boards with oil than not.
I've heard that over-oiling can potentially loosen the bond between wood and glue, and cause the whole board to fall apart. I've only read that as a warning, never seen an example of it. Perhaps it was more of an issue in the past with lesser-quality glues.
 

John Loftis

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Do boards dry out over time ? 2nd house in another state/summer retreat. While I keep my boards oiled well, always amazed that coming back 6-7 months later, with no -usage-, when I go to oil up the boards, they seem thirsty. Does mineral oil dissipate/evaporate, with with the -final coat- being a butter board mix as the last app, before -storage-
This is one of the greater mysteries in my (admittedly small) world. Maybe there's a chemist/scientist/spiritual guru out there who can explain this coherently because it's a head-scratcher to me. Yes, boards dry out if they are unused. I have no idea why. Mineral oil doesn't evaporate; it doesn't contain water (fact check 'oil doesn't evaporate,' please). But as Michi said, wood cutting boards need regular oiling, regardless of whether they are washed/used. Maybe the oil sinks deeper into the wood fibers. Maybe it is lapped up by pixies in the wee hours of the morning. All I know for sure is the boards need to be oiled.
 

John Loftis

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For my end grain block I am using natural thick finishing oil with beeswax and carnauba, which contains real boiled linseed oil combined with natural waxes and carnauba wax.
Last time I heated it up in water bath (not sure I use the right term...I hope so...) and then used the kitchen silicone brush to apply it on both sides of the board. The higher temp allows the wood sells to open and accumulate easier the ingredients.
I left it like this for 2 days and wiped out (the little) excessive oil.
Now the board can take moisture and/or smelly stuff without any problem and when I wash it I see the water drops rolling down as if they are on goose feathers. :)
I need to research carnuba wax a bit more. I know of another person or two who are adding a touch of carnuba to their beeswax/mineral oil combo. I don't know anything about it, however. I think it has a significant (positive) impact on repelling moisture, but I'm less confident about food safety/taste/etc. I'm fairly sure that BLO is poisonous. You don't want to eat that.
 

esoo

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I need to research carnuba wax a bit more. I know of another person or two who are adding a touch of carnuba to their beeswax/mineral oil combo. I don't know anything about it, however. I think it has a significant (positive) impact on repelling moisture, but I'm less confident about food safety/taste/etc. I'm fairly sure that BLO is poisonous. You don't want to eat that.
Carnuba wax is used to make hard candies shiny - for example Canadian Smarties list it as a food ingredient.

Like everything I suspect it is about concentration.
 

valdim

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I need to research carnuba wax a bit more. I know of another person or two who are adding a touch of carnuba to their beeswax/mineral oil combo. I don't know anything about it, however. I think it has a significant (positive) impact on repelling moisture, but I'm less confident about food safety/taste/etc. I'm fairly sure that BLO is poisonous. You don't want to eat that.
As always the devil is in the details...The BLO in my case is really boiled pure l. oil, not oil with drying agent added, which allows somebody to sell as BLO. It is the drying agent which makes the end product not suitable for 4-food-involved applications.
 
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OT John. Mind if I pick your brain since u happen to be in the millwork/cabinetry world of things.

What chemical cleaner is safe to use on kitchen cabinets for grease ? Aka, atomized grease - slight buildup on the cabinets closest to the hood on left and right ?

We have cherry cabinets in a -low sheen finish-. No clue what the finish coat is. I have used -Krud Kutter- sparingly as I don't want to induce -sheen- onto the satin finish we have on the cabinets. KK works, although it's not knocking the heavier buildup.
 

John Loftis

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OT John. Mind if I pick your brain since u happen to be in the millwork/cabinetry world of things.

What chemical cleaner is safe to use on kitchen cabinets for grease ? Aka, atomized grease - slight buildup on the cabinets closest to the hood on left and right ?

We have cherry cabinets in a -low sheen finish-. No clue what the finish coat is. I have used -Krud Kutter- sparingly as I don't want to induce -sheen- onto the satin finish we have on the cabinets. KK works, although it's not knocking the heavier buildup.
If they are custom cabinets (high end) or well-made factory cabinets, then they were likely sprayed with conversion varnish or (at worst) pre-catalyzed lacquer. Both of those are fairly durable; my finish salesman has often bragged that conversion varnish is impervious even to nail polish remover (I haven't tested that). So I suspect most cleaners that don't have abrading agents (eg pumice) would be ok. Have you tried Simple Green? That's gentle, organic, and effective for most stuff.
 

John Loftis

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Carnuba wax is used to make hard candies shiny - for example Canadian Smarties list it as a food ingredient.

Like everything I suspect it is about concentration.
I just ordered a pound of it and will play around with adding it to some board butter to see what happens.
 
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Krud Kutter says you can even eat -their product- or digest or something to that effect. I suppose it's some high Alakine based cleaner, as it does -melt- atomized grease off the hood grills quite easily by just a swipe of the product. I'm just super -careful- with the millwork as the last thing I want to do is change the sheen on it....and actually make the spot shiner, or even worse, eat the finish on it.

Car detailing nerd here.....have not used Simple Green in ages. Mainly I think more from a past experiece, I've seen SG etch a set of aluminum wheels. It's pretty strong stuff ....and yes, I have not sat down and put my thinking cap on as I posted this.

fwiw, murphy's oil, which I know if a big NONO to use on wood floors, also works great as a spot treatment to dissolve said atomize oil on the wood cabinets. I also do test spots though just to see what would happen if the said -cleaner product- did not work as expetected
 

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Mineral oil doesn't evaporate; it doesn't contain water (fact check 'oil doesn't evaporate,' please).
Oil does evaporate, but only very slowly. (Oil has a smell, meaning that some volatiles are leaving it, otherwise there would be nothing to smell.) But, considering how much oil I manage to soak into my board every few weeks, I'm not at all sure that the oil disappears due to evaporation. Oil also oxidises but, again, only very slowly. So, I'm at a loss, too, as to why/how wood dries out.

I guess one way to find out would be to have a piece of test wood, weigh it, oil it, weigh it again to see how much oil it absorbed initially, and then leave it lying around for a few weeks, weighing it periodically. (You would have to use fairly precise scales.) Then see by how much the weight goes down, and by how much it goes up again after re-oiling.
 

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I guess one way to find out would be to have a piece of test wood, weigh it, oil it, weigh it again to see how much oil it absorbed initially, and then leave it lying around for a few weeks, weighing it periodically. (You would have to use fairly precise scales.) Then see by how much the weight goes down, and by how much it goes up again after re-oiling.
Looks like you've found yourself a lockdown project 😁
 

Michi

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Looks like you've found yourself a lockdown project 😁
Nope. I have plenty of mineral oil left, so I'll just keep pouring that on every few weeks. I'm a curious and scientifically-minded person, but not that curious! :)
 
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