We’ve all been there. You’re prepping dinner for the hundredth time on the plastic cutting board you found on a random end cap, when you realize the time has come to upgrade your kitchen. Afterall, you’ve been looking for the chance to put the ‘treat yo' self’ mantra into action, so what better way than to invest in a quality wood cutting board?
As with all investment pieces, you want to make sure that the handsome little devil you just brought home will stay handsome and, more importantly, useful for as long as possible. There are many products out there, but before we dig into which is best and what to look for, it’s helpful to know why a wood cutting board needs to be maintained in the first place.
Board Care 101
As with any organic substance, wood is susceptible to the elements. For example, when you’re in a cold or dry place, your skin dries out and can crack if not properly moisturized. Also, depending on what type of skin you have, you might need to apply more often, or add another product to keep your skin in tip top shape. Much in the same way, wood fibers can dry out and crack if they don’t stay hydrated, and some species may need more TLC than others. Let’s take a look!
Although products out there go by many aliases like seasoning, butter, cream, or conditioner, there are 2 staple ingredients to look for when selecting a product: food grade mineral oil and beeswax.
Food Grade Mineral Oil
- This is the main ingredient in most products for board care, and with good reason. Food grade mineral oil is crucial because it soaks deep into the wood fibers, keeping them hydrated.
- Food grade mineral oil, applied a minimum of every 3 weeks, is the standard board care product regardless of wood type. For a thirstier wood like Maple or end grain constructed boards, we recommend 2-3 weeks. See our Care Page.
- Be careful of product names–cutting board oil is not always the same as mineral oil depending on the brand.
- Pro-tip: Looking for an alternative to food grade mineral oil? Try fractionated coconut oil.
- This is the most common type of wax in products for board care. Beeswax is important because it conditions and creates a thin, natural barrier on the surface of the board, which keeps out external moisture like water, juices, and food oils.
- Beeswax should be applied after food grade mineral oil every 3 weeks regardless of wood type.
- Pro-tip: Instead of two separate products, we recommend a hybrid product that has both food grade mineral oil and beeswax, especially for thirstier woods like Maple or end grain construction boards.
What to Avoid
Be sure to avoid all cooking oils (olive oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, sesame oil, etc...) to maintain your board. These types of oils are high in fat and, once oxidized, can become rancid, transferring an unpleasant smell into the wood.