Caring for
Butcher Blocks, Cutting Boards & Salad Bowls
Finishes for Butcher-Block Tops
I have a kitchen island that has a cutting board top. I have just sanded it and would like to put some kind of finish coat on it.
Can you recommend an oil finish that is suitable for a food preparation surface?

FINISH on a cutting board may be a misnomer!

Proper surface treatment however is important to guard against germs or mould growth.

It is important to note that Rockhard Maple and a few other closed grained hardwoods are the only suitable woods for cutting board use.
Never use oak, ash, hickory or other open grained woods for a cutting surface as the pores can harbor germs and decaying food particles. Softer closed grained woods deteriorate with knife cuts and usage and become unsanitary and wood splinters or particles wind up in foodstuffs.

A Cutting Board or Butcher Block Surface needs an oil that can be repeatedly applied to fill the wood pores and repel food particles, liquids and oils.

The oil must be an inert oil or otherwise it will turn rancid. Never use vegetable or cooking oils to treat or finish a cutting surface, as in time, the wood will reek of a rancid spoiled oil odor.
For initial treatment and continuing maintenance a Pure Raw Almond or Walnut Oil may be used. Mineral Oil from the drugstore may also be used.
Howards Cutting Board Oil, is a proprietary blend of oils, available in non breakable half pint bottles. Howards virgin mineral oils have no contact with nuts, gluten or other potentially allergenic materials either in production, storage, or transport.

Board CARE
Never allow a wood cutting or chopping board to stand in water.
Hand Wash and Scrub with Hot water and dish soap, bleach may be also used when necessary. Hand DRY.
After all the moisture has evaporated, and the wood is dry, apply an ample coat of Board Oil.

On untreated new or freshly sanded raw wood, apply several coats of oil wiping away any excess. A warm room or warm oil will help the penetration. These protective oils never dry or cure and need reapplication frequently.
Every time the surface is washed the oil should be reapplied. Wipe an even coat on allow to sit overnight and wipe away any oil remaining on the surface.

A cutting board surface is never "Finished" -
the oil is a continuing maintenance treatment, not a finish.

Another finish that can be used is pure Food Grade Raw Tung Oil (USE ONLY the RAW Tung). This oil is from the nut of the tung tree. Raw Tung Oil dries by oxidation. Several coats will be needed; apply at 24 to 48 hour intervals to allow curing.
This finish may be maintained by replication of tung oil as needed or use a Butcher Block oil such as Terra Nova NaturOil as required to maintain the surface.

Finishes for:
Butcher Block Counter Tops
& Wood Tops that Will NOT be used as a Cutting Surfaces

For professional spray application:
Conversion Varnish is an excellent choice for wood counter tops that will NOT be used as a cutting surface.

For on site brush application:
Butcher Block type counter tops, especially those containing a sink or stove top are best protected with a film building finish such as the BEHLEN Salad Bowl Finish (an FDA approved Urethane finish). Wood counter tops that will NOT be used as a cutting surface may also be finished with Salad Bowl finish.
Several coats Must be applied to seal the wood from moisture. The advantage of the “Salad Bowl” finish is an easy to clean stain resistant gloss finish that will retain the new look much longer than an oiled finish.


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