My son made a cutting board for his mom in shop class. School has ended and
he didn't get to quite finish it up. He has it complete except for some sort
of sealant or seasoning I guess. I believe the wood is walnut but I not
certain on that. For a cutting board, what kind of coating, if any, needs to
go on it before it's put in use?
I suggest Extra Virgin Olive oil. Get the good Italian stuff. That costs more but is
well worth it for salads. I have no idea what that oil looks like on walnut, but it
is relatively inexpensive, is available in most grocery stores, and is certainly safe
Uhhhhh, no. Extra virgin olive oil is 'the good stuff' because of the
relative 'other stuff', which adds a fruity taste, but makes it go rancid
more easily, if wiped on a wooden cutting board. If you want to use olive
oil, (and I don't think I would), use 'light' or 'pure', which is of the
later pressing, and has less of the 'fruity' stuff, (which has a technical
name escaping me right now.)
Walnut oil, or one of the milder nut oils, might be OK, although the food
allergy thing is always troubling.
Our cutting boards MIGHT get a coating of a light mineral oil once a year
or so. They are scrubbed with hot water, a dab of dish soap, and a stiff
vegetable scrubber after each use. The 3" maple block is beginning to show
some signs of heavy use, but then it's only been 25 years. I'll get back
to the group when it gets fully broken in...
Since olive oil goes rancid over time, would suggest that it is NOT a
good choice, at least not for the first coat(s)
Mineral Oil or commercial cutting board finish is probably a better
Olive oil and other vegetable oils go rancid by partial oxygenation. If you
store the board with the surfaces open to the air, no problem with
rancidity. You still have the problem of a non-curing (as with mineral )
oil, which will make the surface a dirt and bacteria shelter unless you wash
it with something that removes the oil.
Which leads to the question - why bother oiling with something which doesn't
The USDA recommends to use Shellac as a finish for cutting boards and
let it cure for 7-10 days before using. Use no oils whatsoever. It only
breeds ecoli. Always use Walnut, Cherry, or Maple.
Speaking from experience - if it gets frequent, daily use, don't bother. I
use my board every day, and after each use it gets a scrub with hot water
and a small bit of soap, and rinse and pat dry. No oil, becuase the soap
will wash it off anyway, and I'm not about to oil the board every time I use
it. Wood tends to be naturally antibacterial anyway (there's been studies
done) and none of us have gotten sick off it yet.
If, OTOH, you plan on putting it on display, mineral oil would be the best
thing to use. I think that a cutting board has a finite lifesapn, so I'm
not too worried about splitting, checking or drying out. Every five years,
quick pass through the planer, all set. Or, make a new one and heat your
house with the old one.
I made a cutting board in shop class also. But that was in 1969. My wife
uses it daily and I nor she have put any thing on it except food. Id you
son's cutting board dark wood? If so, it could be walnut. You really do
not need to put anything on it unless you want it look nice and don't plan
on using it.
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