End Grain Cutting Board: How much oil is too much?

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Naruto19

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I purchased a Walnut End Grain cutting board in October of last year from Brooklyn Butcher Blocks. Upon arrival I began to oil the board to try and “season” it before use. This is my first I guess you would say nice cutting board. So I wanted to treat it right. I oiled it every day for the first week and watched it drink it all up. So after that week I could see it would take a little longer to absorb it all in. Great it’s saturated… right?

Well curiosity got the better of me so I let it sit for a day or two. Then tried to oil again over night. Well what do you know. It drank it all up. This began a new process. I would oil the board and allow it to absorb. When it looked like it was full of oil I would give it 2-4 days of rest. Then try again. This lasted till about a week ago! Only reason I stopped is because now that the weather is warming up I could see it “sweat” some oil out. So I figure I would give it a week or two to see if this still happens or not.

I am not sure exactly what is going on but I suspect that the oil takes time to migrate deeper into the wood. So every time I thought I was done. I in fact was not. I have used about 50-60oz of oil thus far from what I can tell. For my 12x18x1.75 inch board. In retrospect I should have weighed the board when I got it then at the end. It really boggles my mind how much I have oiled it. I haven’t even used it yet 7 months later! Lol

So I was wondering if there is such a thing as oiling a cutting board too much? I used a combination of Walrus Oil and Caron and Doucet oils.
 
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HumbleHomeCook

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End grain will soak up a TON of oil. In my opinion it isn't necessary and can become harmful (splitting).

Give a few good soaks as you obviously have and then just apply when it starts to show it's drying out on the surface. If you drop a hot piece of meat onto it you'll suck out a bunch of oil anyway.
 

Naruto19

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End grain will soak up a TON of oil. In my opinion it isn't necessary and can become harmful (splitting).

Give a few good soaks as you obviously have and then just apply when it starts to show it's drying out on the surface. If you drop a hot piece of meat onto it you'll suck out a bunch of oil anyway.
Interesting! I thought the oil was to help prevent the splitting? Since it takes up volume in the board that could have been occupied by moisture?

Yeah it has soaked up a ton! (Almost a half gallon to be precise lol)

I have noticed the more I oil it the more dry it has been looking lately. Which is crazy. So in the last week I have started to use a board wax. That has restored most of its depth and luster.
 

OnionSlicer

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Sounds about right, I saturated mine to the point where if I poured any more oil on, it would start slowly dripping from the bottom. Mine is maple, and the difference in the color of the wood before/after oiling it is really something.

The good news is that you won't need to oil it much after, I haven't oiled mine in a year and it's just fine. Occasional board wax is a good idea.

The bad news is you can't really wash it with soap regularly unless you want to constantly dry it out and re-oil it. Soap binds with oil, that's how it works, so you'll draw the oil you poured into the board back out. Diluted vinegar spray is a good cleaning option.

Oh and I wouldn't let protein, especially raw, touch the board. No matter how well oiled it is, end grain will absorb a bit from the surface.
 

bahamaroot

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Oh and I wouldn't let protein, especially raw, touch the board. No matter how well oiled it is, end grain will absorb a bit from the surface.

I use my butcher block for proteins all the time, raw or cooked, that's what they're made for. They clean up easy and it doesn't hurt a thing, people have been doing it for centuries.
 

Naruto19

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@OnionSlicer yes that was my goal to try to get it to drip though the other side! Never got there and I was oiling both sides (I have it on these pyramids that elevate the board). On warmer days a about week ago it did sweat from both sides before reabsorbing when it cools at night. It hasn’t happened since but I am monitoring it!

Yes soap is amphipathic so it helps water dissolve both polar and non polar molecules. We spent a whole section on it in General Chem and a little in biochem. Actually a biochem major! 😬

@bahamaroot yes I have heard both sides of this argument. Both make sides make sense to me and have merit. I will have to do more digging before I decide. Appreciate the input. Luckily this will be mainly my veg cutting board!
 

Cliff

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I thought I recalled the BoardSmith saying he didn't think you could use too much oil.
 

Naruto19

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I thought I recalled the BoardSmith saying he didn't think you could use too much oil.
Interesting I am sure he would know more than me. I wonder why?

His boards look great! I wish I knew about his site before buying my board. Then I would try to ask him directly. Does he frequent our forum?
 

bahamaroot

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When David Smith owned BoardSmith he used to soak the boards in a vat of mineral oil overnight before wrapping and packaging to ship.
 

HumbleHomeCook

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I use my butcher block for proteins all the time, raw or cooked, that's what they're made for. They clean up easy and it doesn't hurt a thing, people have been doing it for centuries.

100% agree!

I believe board fears are way over done.

One article on the subject:

@Naruto19 my apologies, I should've been clearer in what I meant. By splitting, I meant swelling and shrinking that might impact the glued areas. I've never experienced it but have read others claiming it happened. Take it with a spoon of salt. :)

Still though, after my end grain board drank an entire bottle of mineral oil and a few coats of wax, I just rolled with it.
 
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My BoardSmith from Jan '21 came fully soaked in mineral oil so I think the practice is still the same.
Same here. I treated it for the first 2 weeks and have only done it one other time since getting it in Dec. And I only did that time because I thought it felt a smedge dry.
 

Naruto19

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Good to know BoardSmith soaks his boards. I think my Brooklyn as as well but I think this gets adsorbed deeper in to the wood in a matter of weeks. While the beeswax if applied makes the wood still look hydrated. I effectively continually soaked my board for months on both sides.

@bahamaroot did BoardSmith change ownership?

@HumbleHomeCook I got what you meant! I thought the oil was supposed to help the swelling. Since the swelling is due to moisture or humidity in the air. So more oil in the wood the less water in any form can affect it? I dunno
 
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Founder David Smith sold the business to John Loftis, the current owner. David spent some time working with John around the time of the sale, and he seems to have carried on many of the practices and kept the quality high. Sadly, David passed a couple years ago.
I oil my boards well, and then I use them. Cut meat if I need to. Use soap if I need to. Reapply oil as necessary.
After board is well saturated with oil, I like to use some board butter for a final coat.
Some mineral oil is thicker than others and seems to last longer.
 

WildBoar

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It's amazing how much oil the boards will soak up. The info above on Boardsmith submerging the boards was/ is correct. But fast-forward a few months, and the board can drink up a whole lot more. It's pretty crazy how much, if you keep reapplying until it mostly stays on the surface. Some people stop a ways before that point though, and use 'board butter' to finish it off. I am in the 'keep applying more oil' camp myself.
 
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