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Oiling Wood

wood cutting boards and bowls

With proper care, wood can last a lifetime or even many generations. Wood dries out in the air and shrinks and contracts with temperature changes and exposure to water. Over time, it becomes prone to cracking and splitting.

To prolong the life of your wooden items, follow these basic rules: 1) Do not put wood cutting boards, wood bowls, wood spoons, or wood-handled knifes or other implements in the dishwasher - wash these items by hand immediately after use. 2) Do not leave wood items submerged in the sink or keep your cutting board resting behind the sink in a puddle of water or where it will get splashed regularly (this is not good for bacterial safety as well). 3) Occasionally oil all your unfinished, bare wood.

It's recommended to oil cutting boards once a month or several times a year. Though the real need depends on frequency and conditions of use of the item as well as weather conditions where you live. I usually get to this task only once a year, and I usually remember in the winter, when air feels cold and dry and the nights are longer, giving me more time for inside chores. If I had expensive end-grain teak cutting boards (someday!), I would oil them more often than that. I also oil unfinished wood bowls, spoons, knife handles, as well as my carved wood earrings.

wood cutting boards and bowls

Make sure the wood items are clean and completely dry. Prepare your work surface and protect it if needed with towels or plastic. I place a couple layers of towels down on my countertop to protect the granite from oil stains while I use it as a work surface.

Use mineral oil (a distillation product of petroleum), beeswax, tung oil (oil from the nut of the tung tree, can cause an allergic response for some), walnut oil (again, avoid if you have allergies), linseed oil (use the raw oil, not boiled or treated which contain toxins or heavy metals), coconut oil, or another oil or blended product made for this purpose. Be sure you used a food-safe oil or product and do not use cooking oil since it will go rancid in the wood.

wood cutting boards and bowls

Use a rag or paper towel to rub the oil into the wood in the direction of the grain. Oil all sides of the item. If you have old dry cutting boards that have not been oiled for awhile, or ever, you will see an instant difference as the wood soaks up the oil and looks richer and more beautiful. The more it absorbs, the better, so let it sit, overnight or longer even.

wood cutting boards and bowls

If the wood still looks dry, you can rub more oil in. If the wood looks oily, shiny, like the oil is sitting on the surface and not soaking in, the extra oil can be wiped off with a rag. As you oil your wood items and you hadn't noticed before, you'll likely find out which ones are naked and which have a protective coating. My salad bowl set and one of my bamboo cutting boards came with a protective coating when new. That coating has been wearing off over the years so the cutting board is thirstier in the middle where it's been exposed by the knife. The parts of the board around the edges where it is still coated will not absorb the oil so need to be wiped off after this process. It makes me wonder what the coating is made of, and hope it's safe to eat! At some point in the future, I'll likely sand all the cutting boards to resurface them and remove stains, particularly the burn stain on my little one from setting a hot stove-top espresso maker on it.

Keep your wood looking beautiful and it last forever with just a little work to care for it.

wood cutting boards and bowls

degree (24), diy (13), homesteading (6), kitchen (4), wood (4)

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