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Question regarding oiling

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domgro

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Hi,
I have an end grain cutting board and I renew the surface maybe once a year/every 2 years. I always applied boiled linseed oil.
Now the oil is starting to wear off in some spots and I want to oil it again.
However, I don't want to use boiled linseed oil yet. It takes a lot of time, you have to clean the brush afterwards etc.

Here is my question:
Can I apply a different oil or wax, after using linseed oil for a few years and is there any downside using different kinds of oils/waxes?
I would like to keep using boiled linseed oil every once in a while when I renew the surface, because it creates a hard and durable coating, but I would also like to use a quicker method when the linseed oil wears off.

Sorry if my english is a little bit off. Its not my first language.

Thank you.
 

Michi

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Mineral oil (also known as liquid paraffin) works really well. Soaks deeply into the wood. Apply a thick layer and let it sit overnight.

You can buy mineral oil at pharmacies. It is normally sold as a laxative and definitely food-safe.
 

Nemo

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In Aus, it's usually cheapest to buy liquid parrafin at the pharmacy. YMMV I guess.

I feel guilty if I haven't oiled mine for a month or two. 2 years is definitely too long. I usually refinish mine with an orbital sander at 2-3 year intervals. I oiled mine today and finished with a layer of board conditioner. This gives it a waterproof layer and a nice sheen.

I reapply board conditioner on a weekly or fortnightly basis (when the sheen dissipates). You only need a teaspoon full or maybe two. Wipe on then wipe off. Board conditioner is easily made at home by melting a cubic inch or two of beeswax into a cup (half a pint?) of mineral oil/ parrafin. I use a microwave in short increments until the wax begins to melt, stirring with a spoon between each burst of microwaves. I suspect a saucepan would work if you did it slowly. Obviously be careful not to burn the oil or yourself.

I oil the board less often, when the underlying wood looks a bit drier in the part of the board where most of the the cutting is done. Pour some oil over the board, spread it around and let it soak in. Repeat. Repeat more times if it has been 2 years since you oiled it.

I don't know for sure but I suspect that you should be able to use parrafin/ mineral oil after using boiled linseed last time. Maybe a woodworker can chip in there. Pun not intended but kinda cool in retrospect (woodworkers are called "chippies" in Aus slang).
 

Bear

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You may want to try to sand off the BLO finish you have on, BLO finish's have additives used to help them dry that really are not good to be consumed. I'd sand it off then re-coat with the mineral oil, just my opinion.
 

McMan

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You may want to try to sand off the BLO finish you have on, BLO finish's have additives used to help them dry that really are not good to be consumed. I'd sand it off then re-coat with the mineral oil, just my opinion.
Yup, BLO is not food safe due to the driers/solvents/additives. 100% linseed oil is food safe but it takes a long while to cure and can be tough to find and/or pricey. Mineral oil or mineral oil + beeswax is the standard choice. It's in the wood not on the wood. No brushing, just wipe on when the wood is dry, let absorb, then buff. Easy peezy.
 

juice

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Mostly from the local farmers market but have aslo got some from the green and red temple (Bunnings)
Sweet, ordered online, easiest way when we're locked down.

I've still got mineral oil, so I can take my time before ordering a new lot of that.
 

domgro

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Thank you for all your input. I was told that BLO is generally safe to use. I guess I will sand it off and apply a food safe oil/wax.
What about alternatives to mineral oil made from carnauba wax?
 

Michi

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What about alternatives to mineral oil made from carnauba wax?
Carnauba is a hard finishing wax. If you want a very smooth surface to look really glossy and shiny, almost like glass, carnauba is the right thing. For example, carnauba is used to put the showroom polish on cars.

For a cutting board, it's the wrong thing: it'll harden into white and hard lumps of wax in every little groove and crevice. (I know from having used carnauba to polish African drums. Unless you have a very smooth and uniform surface, it simply doesn't work well.)

Mineral oil (and maybe a bit of bees wax mixed in) are really all you need. Don't overthink it.
 

Nemo

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I have a commercial board butter with carnauba and beeswax dissolved in mineral oil. 4 times the price of homebrew butter and really no better.
 

Luftmensch

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Sweet, ordered online, easiest way when we're locked down.
Nice one. Probably your best bet! I ordered a kilo-block from a local apiarist a few years ago (they didnt sell smaller blocks!)... It will take a long time to use it all!



You may want to try to sand off the BLO finish you have on, BLO finish's have additives used to help them dry that really are not good to be consumed. I'd sand it off then re-coat with the mineral oil, just my opinion.
+1

Almost all linseed oil (and companions) purchased at a generic hardware store will contain drying agents and other nasty compounds. If you didn't go out of your way to buy a 110% pure linseed/flax oil, it probably isnt completely safe. If you see a particular brand, do your due diligence and read the associated material safety data sheet - usually available on the manufacturers website.

Don't freak out about what is on your board. The recommendation against using the more 'industrial' finishes (primarily meant for carpentry) is down to best practice. In reality exposure to what is on your board is going to be low.... But why have any exposure at all!? From the hardware store, you'd do better to choose polyurethane (thin film of synthetic rubber).... but the same well-being argument applies. Why ingest any amount of these synthetic compounds when you can avoid it?

Your best bet is to sand the wood down to a clean layer of wood and use a food-safe oil. @Nemo and @Michi made the best suggestion: food-safe mineral oil (and optionally bees wax). The suggestion to use mineral oil is because it is stable and takes a long, long time to oxidise. For the sake of full transparency, while the American FDA considers it food-safe, Wikipedia suggests it is a group 3 carcinogen. That is: "not suspected to be carcinogenic, but available information is not sufficient to classify them as harmless". The citation link was broken but I found this.

As another option, apparently you can get refined coconut oil that also has a long shelf-life. But I have not done any research on that.
 

Kippington

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I don't think this has been mentioned yet, so I'll add it to the thread.

All of the oils mentioned above will fall into one of two main categories:

A drying oil is an oil that hardens to a tough, solid film after a period of exposure to air. The oil hardens through a chemical reaction in which the components crosslink (and hence, polymerize) by the action of oxygen (not through the evaporation of water or other solvents). Drying oils are a key component of oil paint and some varnishes. Some commonly used drying oils include linseed oil, tung oil, poppy seed oil, perilla oil, and walnut oil.
A non-drying oil is an oil which does not harden when it is exposed to air.
________________________________

@domgro has been using a drying oil - boiled linseed - which hardens into a plastic-like surface and seals the board from any moisture. Unfortunately this will easily get eaten up at the sharp end of a knife.
Switching to a non drying oil such as mineral oil will change the properties of the cutting surface. Mineral oil will stay liquid, and the whole idea of it is to have plenty in excess to readily flood into the pores and empty spaces of a board, thus allowing any cuts in a board (mainly end-grain) to 'seal up' and push out any particles... but as a result, the board has to stay 'plump' and will need more of a consistent oiling.

I think it would be fine for @domgro to switch to a non-drying oil, but be aware that over time, there will be changes in characteristics over patches of your board,
 

Luftmensch

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All of the oils mentioned above will fall into one of two main categories
Good point! The non-drying oil is sort of self healing on a cutting board.

To add further precision to the categorisation, I'll re-emphasise my previous point:

Almost all linseed oil (and companions) purchased at a generic hardware store will contain drying agents and other nasty compounds. If you didn't go out of your way to buy a 110% pure linseed/flax oil, it probably isnt completely safe.
100% natural drying oils can be food safe (tung oil, linseed). I love tung oil for handles. Again, check the MSDS. Most of the time finishes containing linseed oil or tung oil are doped with nasty (non-food safe) drying agents to make them more convenient to use.
 

juice

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I ordered a kilo-block from a local apiarist a few years ago (they didnt sell smaller blocks!)... It will take a long time to use it all!
Yeah, I ordered a kilo from an apiarist as well. Way too much beeswax, but that's OK, it's a small enough amount to store, and shipping was the same cost for smaller amounts and I couldn't bring myself to pay most of the cost in freight. I can also probably use it to lubricate the doorhinges around here :)
 

IsoJ

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I bought two kilos, cause the second kilo came basically free when shipping changed included 😂.
 
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