Mineral Oil, What A Mistake!

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Forum topic by MWHY posted 09-08-2019 08:27 PM 723 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 414 days

09-08-2019 08:27 PM

Topic tags/keywords: mineral oil butcher block naphtha vinegar sanding question humor finishing modern resource

I’ll preface by stating that I’m a novice to woodworking and furniture repair, as you will learn shortly, so any advice will be greatly appreciated!

I purchased a stand-alone kitchen cabinet with a “butcher block” top second hand about 6 weeks ago. I’m a bit of a clean freak, so the first thing I did was give it a good scrubbing as it was a little dirty. For the “butcher block” top, I finished it off with a good vinegar scrub to clean and disinfect it.

This left it a little it dry looking. I wanted to bring a little life back into it so since it was listed as a “butcher block” top, which it definitely appears to be, I read that a coat of mineral oil will help give it a nice finish.

Well, that was a fatal mistake as now it’s left with an oily residue. After some internet research and actually calling around to furniture repair and woodworking shops, I concluded that a dawn soap scrub and many coats of Naphtha was the way to go but that unfortunately didn’t resolve the issue as it’s still pretty oily.

My last attempt was a vinegar and salt scrub followed by denatured alcohol. It’s better but still oily.

I understand that with mineral oil, I’m probably doomed as I know it’s impossible to remove all the oil. After all of those steps, it is better than it was but I’m not thrilled about having a piece of furniture that will leave residue by simply touching it.

My last thought, before I throw it in the fire pit, is wondering if sanding it will make it usable. I provided some pictures below.

What a headache! I purchased this just for some extra counter space in the kitchen. I’ll probably have it for a couple of years until we move on to the next place. My point is, anything that will allow me to get some use out of it would be great. It’s definitely not a piece of furniture that needs to be impeccable.

Again, any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance!

7 replies so far

View Andybb's profile


2884 posts in 1486 days

#1 posted 09-09-2019 01:09 AM

I guess “different strokes for different folks”. Personally, I love mineral oil on cutting boards and butcher blocks. You need to wipe until the oily residue goes away to your satisfaction. Give it a day or two to dry then wipe again. That being said, is it possible that there are still oils and fat leaching out of it from years of use? It looks like end grain so the wood should be almost impenetrable to liquids and oils. Just keep wiping with a dry rag.

It should not feel oily after you wipe it, but it won’t be dry either. IMO it makes for a nice finish. If you go to a restaurant or butcher shop the butcher block will always feel somewhat oily.

PS It looks great, especially with that juice groove around the edges.

Oh, and Welcome to lj.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View Aj2's profile


3414 posts in 2681 days

#2 posted 09-09-2019 01:24 AM

Too me it looking like a good end grain cutting board.
The way it looks will change over time if you use it and clean it.
That’s part of the appeal of a wooden cutting board.
It should only look new the first day its ready for service.

-- Aj

View WoodenDreams's profile


1161 posts in 793 days

#3 posted 09-09-2019 01:51 AM

I assume you only put the mineral oil on the butcher block top area and not the cabinet. Do you plan on using it for chopping or slicing food. or just extra counter surface. If you plan on using it as a food cutting surface, clean after uses, then you could lay a doily or a clothe cover over it between uses as a chopping block. If just for counter space, then do as Andybb says “wipe occasionally till your satisfied with the surface”. In the meantime, place a doily over it or clothe cover over it, till the residue feel is gone to your satisfaction. Does look like a nice stand alone cabinet.

View Kirk650's profile


680 posts in 1631 days

#4 posted 09-09-2019 02:17 AM

I use mineral oil and other cutting board oil and wax blends. It probably won’t be long until you see that it needs more mineral oil.

It is nice looking.

View Lazyman's profile


5864 posts in 2270 days

#5 posted 09-09-2019 02:33 AM

Patience Grasshopper. It will slowly soak in and eventually not be a problem. Just use some triviets or temporarily place another butcher board on the top so you can use it as you intended until then. You can try putting some towels or paper on it for a little while to sort of wick it away to speed up the process a bit. I don’t like it much either but it does eventually soak in to the point you can’t tell it was ever covered.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View CaptainKlutz's profile


3722 posts in 2377 days

#6 posted 09-09-2019 04:10 AM

1) Did you check to see if the top had film finish on it before starting? Maybe sand the top to confirm it’s wood, and not laminate or poly coated rubber wood. It possible with 2nd hand stuff from China.

2) Removal is Easy peasy lemon squeezy >> Sweat the excess oil out!
a) Lay a cotton towel on top. Tight knit material like t-shirt works better than terry cloth
b) Using wifes steam iron with no water (AKA dry), iron the top of towel until it’s too hot to touch.
c) put on some cotton gloves to avoid burning your hands and rub the back of towel to ensure contact with top and ensure it absorbs the oil.
d) flip towel, and do it all again.
If towel is soaked and slimy with oil, use a clean towel and repeat.
If the 2nd side of towel is mostly dry, then excess oil was removed.

Let top cool for several hours, then rub down with another clean towel to remove any residue that seeped to surface as core cooled. At this point, will probably look dry and like it needs oil.

+1 Use a oil/wax blend

Deplore straight mineral oil cutting board finishes. The are always slimy, until boards needs more oil. I treat wood used in kitchen with 2 step finish. Start with 2 coats of Tried and True Original Wood Finish (food safe linseed oil/wax), then after 2-3 weeks of cure time, apply one coat of mineral oil/wax blend.

Use oil wax blend for maintenance. Much less slimy, and longer lasting. Howard Butcher Block Conditioner is commercial product readily available everywhere. Can also melt 1:4 or 1:5 ration of beeswax to mineral oil as DIY version.


-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View pottz's profile


11708 posts in 1867 days

#7 posted 09-09-2019 03:00 PM

i use the same thing cap’n uses the howards oil wax blend, works’s a beautiful cutting board dont stress it.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

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