Caring for a cutting board

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Michi

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This is the moment where I wonder quietly and briefly what an oil-attacking dish soap actually does to the oil...
Soap emulsifies the oil and keeps it floating in the water in very small droplets.

Oil is hydrophobic because it doesn't have any charged portions on its molecules. In contrast, each water molecule has a positively and negatively charged side; the differently-charged ends of the water molecules attach themselves to other molecules that also have a charge and, in the case of salts, even wedge themselves into the crystals to separate the salt into ions.

Water is such a good and universal solvent (other than for fats and oils) because many substances also have an unevenly-distributed electric charge on their molecules. The water molecules attach themselves with their positive side to the negative side of what they dissolve (or vice versa), and then the water molecules attach to each other by linking up opposite charges. The net effect is that the substance ends up in solution because individual molecules are "carried" by the water molecules.

Soap molecules have no charge at one end, but do have a charge at the other end. The uncharged ends align with the oil, and the charged ends align with water molecules. You can think of soap molecules almost as a bridge that likes to stick to fatty things at one end, and to watery things at the other end.

 

LostHighway

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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
I share your wariness with regard to Simple Green. It is definitely corrosive to aluminum.

I use Optimum Power Clean around the house on occasion at the 3:1 or lower dilution. I don't know how your cabinet finish would react but you might try it on a small unobtrusive spot. The SDS is here. IME it is the least nasty of the general purpose cleaners for automotive use.

When I want a household surface cleaner that is extremely benign I usually use Purity Natural Multi-Surface Cleaner. Insufficiently aggressive is more likely to be the issue here but it has been safe on every surface I've tried it on and it seems to be at least a little more effective than competing products from Method, Seventh Generation, etc.

To get back on topic for cleaning cutting boards I just use vinegar and water or dish soap and water, followed in either case buy a just water rinse. If for some reason I felt the need to try something else for cleaning/disinfecting I might give 3% (or less) hydrogen peroxide a thought but I'm not sure how it might react with type 2 or 3 wood glue.
 
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Blerghle

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This is quite a useful thread. I picked up a larger volume of mineral oil - I hadn't given it much thought before and wasn't using nearly enough. Board's already looking/feeling better. Thanks.
 
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Off topic or on, but is -all food safe mineral oil- the same ? Seeing prices for gallon jugs at ------different pricepoints---
 

Slim278

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I get my mineral oil from Dollar General. It is $2 for 16oz in the medical isle. It is 99.9% mineral oil for a lubricating laxative. Works great on my board. I, however, have not tried to make a greasy turd with it.
 

M1k3

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Off topic or on, but is -all food safe mineral oil- the same ? Seeing prices for gallon jugs at ------different pricepoints---
There's food and medical grade. You want those. If not labeled those, it's not "clean".
 
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I have just purchased medical grade @ Walgreens....went to grab a bottle this week and it was $$ for 16 oz. So I look online, and $19 gets you a whole gallon of this stuff...it's labeled NSF certified, etc...
 

JakeLoveshighCarbon

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It's hard to say what a board needs. I think it depends on how it was made and how consistent your humidity is. My grandmother never oiled her board over 50 years and regularly washed it in the sink without a crack, and yet sometimes your new boos block will crack within months. I think sometimes they dont dry the wood enough, use young wood planed only once, or dont use an appropriate amount of quality glue then blame the owner for improper care.

I do a handful of boos block conditioner every couple months and clean with light soapy water. I think people can be obsessive about their boards, but it is better safe than sorry I suppose. Just dont soak it in water.

As far as the oil disappearing, that is a curiosity that I've wondered about. The wax seems to go with the soap and food. I bet some oil gets broken down, some gets sucked into the block, some into the food, and some goes to the angels like fine Irish whiskey.
 

Ceriano

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I just stumbled across this. It seems like decent and pragmatic advice, but I'd be interested in @John Loftis take on it.

So how do clean larger boards that don’t fit in the sink? I’m thinking to order a 24x18 board but there is no way I can fit that in the sink.
 

Bodine

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No , just wipe it off with a wet cloth or paper towel.
Be sure to oil all sides and edges until it will take no more..
 

Cliff

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Yes, I think it is always important to keep wood well oiled, and especially if it gets hit with moisture, acidity, and salt.
 

John Loftis

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So how do clean larger boards that don’t fit in the sink? I’m thinking to order a 24x18 board but there is no way I can fit that in the sink.
Or a spray bottle with 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 water. More and more of my customers seem to be doing this.
 

Chef Doom

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As someone who has eaten raw steak before, I find their excessive sanitizing pointless.
 

Chef Doom

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It's hard to say what a board needs. I think it depends on how it was made and how consistent your humidity is. My grandmother never oiled her board over 50 years and regularly washed it in the sink without a crack, and yet sometimes your new boos block will crack within months. I think sometimes they dont dry the wood enough, use young wood planed only once, or dont use an appropriate amount of quality glue then blame the owner for improper care.

I do a handful of boos block conditioner every couple months and clean with light soapy water. I think people can be obsessive about their boards, but it is better safe than sorry I suppose. Just dont soak it in water.

As far as the oil disappearing, that is a curiosity that I've wondered about. The wax seems to go with the soap and food. I bet some oil gets broken down, some gets sucked into the block, some into the food, and some goes to the angels like fine Irish whiskey.
I suspect the reason is that older generations were not obsessed with having different boards for meat and vegetables. So when you regularly carve, chop or slice fattening meats be it raw or cooked the board will get some oil with daily meal prep. Especially when you carve roasts. That warm meat juice is also mixed with fat.
 

John Loftis

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Off topic or on, but is -all food safe mineral oil- the same ? Seeing prices for gallon jugs at ------different pricepoints---
According to one of the two main wholesale distributors of mineral oil, there are only two manufacturers of mineral oil in the U.S. Lots of different companies market the same product, branding it as their own. That's one of the reasons I haven't sold cutting board oil... it would be just like everyone else's. However, there are there are the key differences in mineral oils that you should be aware of:

1) grade: medical/food grade vs veterinary grade vs industrial/non-food grade. If you buy oil at Tractor Supply or some of the stuff on Amazon, it can be veterinary grade. A lot of cutting board makers use it, but it is NOT the same as food/medical grade oil. It is a different product and is not certified for human consumption. I got this from the distributor, and I believe them. The stuff in a pharmacy, and most stuff sold as 'cutting board oil' will be food/medical grade, and that's what you want.

2) viscosity: the stuff in the pharmacy sold as a laxative is MUCH more viscous than what is typically sold as cutting board oil. The thinner stuff generally penetrates wood fibers better, but costs more. The pints you buy at the pharmacy work just fine, you just have to be much more patient about letting the oil soak in and then re-applying.

I generally steer customers towards Howards Cutting Board Oil (no affiliation at all), simply because it's a relatively good price point per ounce on Amazon for the 'good stuff.'
 
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