This thread comes along every few months, and I always get a chuckle.
Being ever the empiricist, I have observed the following:
I have made most of the turners, spoons, serving ware and utility
utensils we use in our very busy kitchen. There is an assortment of
woods, and each has been treated with different oils and oil/wax
blends. No difference in smell, texture, wear or anything else has
been noticed by myself or SO.
And then I think... If I am so scared of uncured oils penetrating my
treenware, why do I use them on my wok? Why do I use them for frying
and stirring? Surely turning a piece of fatty fish (salmon) fish
quick seared at high heat would encompass the fears of some here,
Or turning burgers in a teflon skillet with my white oak wide body
turner... wouldn't those fats work their way into the wood? One would
think. But so far, no problems. Wash, dry, put in rack. With about
25 or so turners, spoons, stirrers and testing spoons I don't have ANY
smells from anything on these utensils. They have been in use for
And what about that cutting board. After reading these threads I
think well... should I cut that damn brisket or dismantle those ribs
on that wooden thing or not? Hot grease and meat juice would
certainly penetrate the wood and not only smell to high heaven after
it goes rancid, but it could make any or all of sick.
Thankfully, years and years of cutting up raw meats, sausages, cooked
meats and vegetables of all types on wooden boards sealed with
whatever I have on hand when I think they need a little quick moisture
have resulted in no foul odors, no mildew, no sickness.
You should put whatever you want on your board, understanding that the
oils offer little or no protection. What is important is that you
clean them properly and allow them to dry thoroughly when changing
BTW, I learned from an amigo of mine that worked in a butcher shop for
years that they NEVER clean the butcher block with any kind of soap,
water, or detergent, nor do they put any finish on it.
After a hard day of hacking and chopping, they cleaned the block off
as best they could with a towel, scraped it with a cabinet scraper,
and scrubbed the daylights out of it with a lemon that was cut in
half, then mashed into kosher salt for grit.
My personal obervation after sawing into a board with test oils on
them is that while they make make the wood more attractive, they
coatings don't do much on cutting boards or tools.
I do like the walnut oils on bowls, etc. that can have liquid collect
in the bottom. Mike Mahoney makes a special curing walnut oil for
bowls that is supposed to be great, and that should work as well as
anything else for light wood protection.
Just my 0.02.