Mineral Oil, Tung Oil or Walnut Oil on Cutting Boards (and other things)

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Blog entry by WoodArtbyJR posted 10-22-2010 08:51 PM 36238 reads 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

What are the differences between the three oils? Mineral oil is the cheapest. Tung and walnut are priced about the same and both can cause alergic reactions to those that are alergic to nuts. So, I ask, what are the finishing differences. Is one better then the other (other then the cost)? Or does it just get down to a personal preference? As advertised, walnut oil will provide a hardened surface after being exposed to UVs. Mineral oil will need additional coats as it drys out. Tung oil needs to be thinned to penetrate better in the first coats. Mineral oil heated and mixed with bees wax provides a very nice seal coal. Can you do the same with walnut or tung oil or would this be counter productive. Or, if you’re going to do this, wouldn’t you be just as well off (and much cheaper) to use mineral oil and bees wax? Come on LJs, give me your thoughts, ideas, experience and or preference.

-- Jim Roberts, Port Orchard Washington

16 comments so far

View ellen35's profile


2742 posts in 3967 days

#1 posted 10-22-2010 09:19 PM

I use mineral oil because it is cheap, easy to get and, when I give a board or sell a board, I know the recipient can get this pretty easily. Everyone wants to be fancy smancy but often the old stuff is the best.
Just my 0.02 cents.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Rustic's profile


3256 posts in 4131 days

#2 posted 10-22-2010 09:21 PM

mineral oil is what i have used

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View JBfromMN's profile


107 posts in 3311 days

#3 posted 10-22-2010 09:22 PM

I use Mineral Oil. Same reason as Ellen. If the end user needs to recoat the board, they can get it easily.

View Joe Watson's profile

Joe Watson

316 posts in 4081 days

#4 posted 10-22-2010 10:03 PM

i use mineral oil. i do have to say walnut oil wont be good for if someone has allergies to nuts. marc spagnuolo used varnish on his end grain cutting board. but yeah ellen has a good point about the availability etc for reapplication.

-- Got Wood?

View SPalm's profile


5334 posts in 4416 days

#5 posted 10-22-2010 10:28 PM

I have grown to like a couple of coats of mineral oil followed by Howard’s cutting board mixture (oil and wax) for the top coat and re-coats.

I love tung oil on things like boxes, although.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View dustbunny's profile


1149 posts in 3830 days

#6 posted 10-22-2010 10:38 PM

I agree with all who said mineral oil and SPalm. I also use Howards Butcher Block Conditioner.
I get mine at Home Depot.


-- Imagination rules the world. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~

View PetVet's profile


329 posts in 4022 days

#7 posted 10-22-2010 11:05 PM

I too use mineral oil, but heat some bee’s wax in the microwave and add the mineral oil to it to make a paste. Seems to be a little more durable that way.

-- Rich in Richmond -- Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

View WoodArtbyJR's profile


428 posts in 3499 days

#8 posted 10-22-2010 11:08 PM

BoardSMITH – now that is the kind of comment I was looking for. You gave me the information I was looking for.
Steve & dustbunny – I had not heard of or seen the Howards Butcher Block Conditioner before but wouldn’t it be the same as mixing your own mineral oil and bees wax as demonmstrated by the wood wisperer and be MUCH cheaper? Although, like Ellen, JB & Joe state, a product such as this would easly be purchased & applied by the new owner of the board but for people like us. Mix our own???? That is unless the “natural waxes” are something really special. Just a thought & question.

-- Jim Roberts, Port Orchard Washington

View Dusty56's profile


11852 posts in 4222 days

#9 posted 10-23-2010 01:50 AM

Mineral Oil…..inexpensive (WalMart $2 pint), readily available (WalMart or any drugstore,etc..), easy to apply,(pour it on , let it soak in , wipe off excess) Ta Da : )
Sometimes I will make the BeesWax & M.O. mixture as a top coat after saturating the board with Mineral Oil and allowing it to soak in for a few days.The BeesWax leaves a nice satin finish and seems to last longer than the plain M.Oil.
wax & mineral oil finish

This board is about 8 years old and just using Min Oil , I can make it look almost new whenever I recoat it :)

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View whitedog's profile


652 posts in 3992 days

#10 posted 10-23-2010 02:34 AM

I’ve used mineral oil for years and it’s ok ,but I started using walnut oil 2 yrs. ago after reading about it here on LJ.
And it lasts 3 to 4 times longer than mineral oil . But nobody in our family has problems with nuts. And it does cost a lot more.

-- Paul , Calfornia

View ellen35's profile


2742 posts in 3967 days

#11 posted 10-23-2010 12:57 PM

Anything Dusty56 tells you about cutting boards is “gospel” as far as I am concerned. I have seen his cutting boards… they are to die for!! They literally sparkle!

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View pathofwater's profile


1 post in 1920 days

#12 posted 08-10-2014 03:48 AM

If I were to use the walnut oil, does it benefit to heat and mix with beeswax?

View dannmarks's profile


1006 posts in 1116 days

#13 posted 12-24-2016 04:09 PM

OK, Everyone missed the most important factor. All vegetable oils can harbor bacteria over time. Mineral oil is just that – mineral oil. I took woodworking in college as a minor and this was taught to us in Wood working 101. Lot’s of cutting boards made at first so of course this was covered. And then there is the stupid nut factor. Apparently no one was allergic to nuts in the old days cause that was never brought up.

View shampeon's profile


1900 posts in 2718 days

#14 posted 12-24-2016 08:06 PM

My kid has a peanut allergy, the effects of which I’ve unfortunately seen first hand a couple times now, starting when he was 15 months old. Any other bits of wisdom you’d like to share, my dude?

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View dannmarks's profile


1006 posts in 1116 days

#15 posted 12-24-2016 08:56 PM

I have no idea how a finished project surfaced with tung would affect someone with a nut allergy (Hence the stupid nut factor comment). It is just another good reason not to use a vegetable oil on an eating utensil or surface. So yes, my bits of wisdom stand firmly. But like I said, apparently in the old days the peanut allergy thing was not a big deal because it was never brought up in the class. That is a simple fact. Also, I would never use the Tung oil if you were doing a project together with your kid either. Just another bit of wisdom for ya Shampeon. Apparently the only affect it has on my family is they say “it stinks Dann”. They were serious about that.

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