How to Seal a Wood Cutting Board
By Bobby B. | March 2022 | Cutting Boards
If you’re like most people, you probably use your wooden cutting board nearly every day. Cutting on a dirty or damaged board can easily contaminate your food with bacteria. It’s a valuable kitchen tool that makes food preparation easier, but it can also last for years with the proper care. In this article, we will discuss how to seal a wood cutting board and how to season it so that it lasts for many years. We’ll also share how you should maintain your wood cutting board so that it continues to look and perform its best!
What it Means to Seal or Season a Wood Cutting Board
Wood is a naturally porous material, so it will absorb all the juices from food unless it’s sealed. End grain cutting boards are popular and look amazing, but they allow even more absorption due to exposed wood fibers. This can transfer the taste and odors from one recipe to the next even if rinsed. More importantly, however, this can allow moisture to penetrate the wood which can harbor bacteria or cause warping or cracking in the future.
When you seal a wood cutting board, you are essentially preventing liquids and other contaminants from penetrating the surface of the wood. This can be accomplished with a food-safe sealant, such as mineral oil or coconut oil. Sealing your cutting board will help to shield it from staining and bacteria growth, and it will also make the board easier to clean. The oil provides a protective layer that will extend its useful life.
Wooden cutting boards make a great surface that’s easy on your knife, but you should always season a new board with oil before using it for the first time so it doesn’t have a chance to absorb any food or bacteria from your recipes.
Before & After Slider: Seasoning a Cutting Board
What Oil to Use on Wood Cutting Boards
Several different types of oil can be used for seasoning a wooden cutting board. The best oil for wood cutting boards is one that’s an inexpensive food-safe oil that will protect your cutting board from cracking, warping, and harboring bad bacteria.
These are the most common oils used for cutting boards:
- Mineral Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Lemon Juice and Baking Soda
The two most popular oils include food-grade mineral oil and fractionated coconut oil. They’re both inexpensive, easy to work with, and aren’t toxic or won’t go rancid. By the way, you shouldn’t use vegetable oil or olive oil as they may go rancid. We recommend sticking with coconut oil as an all-natural option with no petroleum byproducts. Some also like to mix coconut oil with a little wax to make a mixture they feel does a better job.
How to Season a Wood Cutting Board (4 Steps)
1. Clean the Board & Add Oil
Start by cleaning your cutting board. Rub it with warm, soapy water on a damp cloth and rinse it well, letting it air dry completely before adding the oil to the surface.
2. Rub Oil Evenly
Apply a thin, even layer of oil to the surface of the board, using a cloth or paper towel to move it around. Rub the board in the direction of the grain, letting the board absorb the oil. The first time oiling a new board, make sure it becomes fully saturated, removing any excess with a rag.
3. Let Rest & Repeat
After you’ve applied the oil to each surface of the board, let the board sit for 5 minutes to allow the oil to soak in and repeat the above step up to 3 times.
4. Dry Overnight
Stand the cutting board on its end to dry overnight (or at least 8 hours). Don’t rest it against anything that could potentially be damaged by the oil like the paint on your walls. A dish drying rack works well for this job. The next morning, it should have fully absorbed the oil.
How to Maintain a Wood Cutting Board
Once your cutting board is sealed, you’ll need to maintain it regularly to keep it looking and performing its best. Here are a few maintenance tips to take care of your wood cutting board:
- Always clean your cutting board immediately after use, using warm water and soap. Rinse it well and let it air dry completely before storing it.
- Just like a good kitchen knife, never put your cutting board in the dishwasher as this can damage the wood.
- Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners on your cutting board, as these can damage the finish and cause the wood to warp or splinter.
- Apply a thin layer of sealant every few weeks or as needed to keep the wood protected.
- Store your cutting board in a cool, dry place when not in use.
How Often Should I Seal a Wood Cutting Board?
The frequency with which you’ll need to seal your cutting board depends on how often you use it and what type of material is used to seal it. If you use your cutting board daily, you’ll likely need to seal it every few weeks or so. If you only use it occasionally, you may be able to get away with sealing it once a month or longer.
Recently Sealed Cutting Board
Cutting Board Needs Seasoning
You can tell when it’s time for your wooden cutting board to be oiled again by splashing a few droplets of water on it. If the board repels water and it beads up, you’re still good to go! No need for beeswax and mineral oil yet. However, if the water appears to penetrate the wood at all or just starts to flatten out, it’s probably getting to be time for your next maintenance cycle, so you should add another layer of oil.
If you completely neglect your wooden cutting boards over time, they will likely dry out and split. They will also absorb stains from the foods you cut and make it harder on your knife, causing it to dull more easily.
Season your wooden cutting boards, and if you follow the tips listed above, maintenance is simple. Doing these few easy things will extend the life of your cutting boards and kitchen knives! It will also ensure a safer kitchen with fewer areas for harboring bacteria.
We recommend you check out Caron & Doucet Cutting Board Oil. Made with coconut oil, it’s inexpensive, food-safe, and made in America, and we believe it’s the best oil for wood cutting boards.