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safe woods for cutting boards and bowls?

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  • safe woods for cutting boards and bowls?

    I would like to make a bowl and matching cutting board.
    What are the best wood choices that are durable, aesthetically pleasing, and safe for consistent contact with food?
    Any recommended finishes?
    I typically use boiled linseed oil and a semi-gloss spray lacquer.
    I appreciate any guidance or suggestions you can offer!

  • #2
    Generally speaking, the ideal woods for food preparation items are dense, tight grained woods like maple and beech. Sycamore & cherry would be OK as well. I've used walnut, hickory and white oak for cutting boards, but they were intended for dry use, not for cutting meat. Avoid coarse, open grained woods like red oak. It's also probably wise to avoid most of the imported exotics. I've used purpleheart and bloodwood as accent woods in cutting boards with no worries, but some exotics have toxicity issues.

    As for finishes, all commercially available finishing products sold in the US are non-toxic once fully cured. That said, most of these film type finishes will not stand up to kitchen use, so I would forget about finishes like lacquer, varnish or polyurethane. The most commonly used and recommended finish for food contact utensils is mineral oil. You can melt some beeswax in with it if you wish, but it isn't really necessary. It's completely safe, cheap and easy to use. Don't fall for marketing hype and buy some expensive product that is supposedly specially made for wood items. It isn't necessary and won't do any more for you than mineral oil. Mineral oil is sold in grocery stores and pharmacies as a laxative, so it's easy to find. It will need reapplied occasionaly. The frequency of said reapplication will depend on how the item is used and how often it is washed.

    As for washing, never put a wooden item in the dishwasher or even immerse it completely in water to clean. Simply hand wash it with hot water and soap, rinse and allow to dry thoroughly. An internet search will get you all sorts of info and tips on how to properly care for wooden kitchen items. Google "proper care of wooden cutting boards" for example and you'll see what I mean.
    Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter. Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

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    • #3
      You are awesome!
      Thank you so much for the detailed response....greatly appreciated.
      So glad I finally joined this forum. :0)

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      • #4
        Oh, yea - Bill, thanks so much for the info, and especially the tip about the mineral oil!

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