submerging cutting board in mineral oil

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Forum topic by Adrian A posted 11-04-2012 10:33 PM 34229 views 10 times favorited 67 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Adrian A

169 posts in 4358 days

11-04-2012 10:33 PM

So I’m wiping on some mineral oil onto a cutting board. The normal process I do. Pour on, wipe off. Wait an hour. Repeat process until desired. And I started wondering…

Does anyone fill up a bucket of mineral oil and just submerge the board in the bucket overnight. Wipe it off next day and call it done?? Any success?? Any risks???

67 replies so far

View MNgary's profile


318 posts in 3873 days

#1 posted 11-04-2012 11:05 PM

Haven’t dunked them in a bucket, but I frequently put on a very heavy coating then wrap with Saran Wrap overnight—especially when restoring one that hasn’t been maintained.

-- I dream of a world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

View pintodeluxe's profile


6542 posts in 4269 days

#2 posted 11-04-2012 11:45 PM

I use Howards Butcher Block Conditioner because it is so much nicer to work with, and leaves a soft satin finish that doesn’t feel oily. It is a mix of natural waxes and mineral oils, and it is good stuff. It is available at Home Depot.
I don’t think I will ever go back to plain mineral oil.
Good luck.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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Paul Mayer

1186 posts in 4521 days

#3 posted 11-05-2012 12:17 AM

A guy that I know soaks them in a large container of a mineral oil based home brew concoction that contains beeswax. It works great. If you just soak it in mineral oil, I would put one coat of butcher block conditioner over the top of it for the wax benefit.

-- Paul Mayer,

View waho6o9's profile


9194 posts in 4033 days

#4 posted 11-05-2012 12:34 AM

Emmet’s Good Stuff, and then saturated with mineral oil until
absorption stops. Wait a few days and saturate again with Good
Stuff and mineral oil.

Yeah buddy.

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Adrian A

169 posts in 4358 days

#5 posted 11-05-2012 12:35 AM

I tend to make a lot of cutting boards so trying to find a process more efficient.

Howard’s is just to expensive for me to use for the amount of cutting boards I make.

I normally do a mineral oil beeswax mixture as my last coat. Its all the mineral oil soaking that is time consuming.

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Adrian A

169 posts in 4358 days

#6 posted 11-05-2012 12:37 AM

Waho I bet that works great but sounds time consuming to so in a production environment

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Adrian A

169 posts in 4358 days

#7 posted 11-18-2012 06:53 PM

No other expert thoughts?

View waho6o9's profile


9194 posts in 4033 days

#8 posted 11-18-2012 07:09 PM

Try a can AdrianA, if it saves you time and seals well, you’re ahead of the curve.

View krisrimes's profile


111 posts in 3991 days

#9 posted 11-18-2012 07:16 PM

I still have yet to make a cutting board, but I was thinking that when I got around to doing one, filling one of those square flat plastic totes with mineral oil and soaking it in that. The only downside I could see is the glue possibly being affected? I’m not sure what effect soaking a glued up piece overnight would have on the glue even if it is waterproof glue.

View Charlie's profile


1101 posts in 3742 days

#10 posted 11-18-2012 07:48 PM

oil isn’t water :) I don’t think I’d submerge a cutting board in anything long term. And as far as wrapping it in Saran wrap…. I guess I’d ask why? I don’t think mineral oil evaporates… does it? I cook. Therefore I actually USE cutting boards. Some pretty big ones. I have 2 hard maple boards now. They got oiled every day for a week. Then every week for 2 months, then every month for a year.After that it’s kinda whenever they need it. The wax/oil mixtures are nice. Gives the board a different feel and easy to apply. But understand that I keep a microfiber cloth that I use for oiling in a quart-sized freezer bag in the cupboard with a small squeeze bottle of mineral oil.

Boards NEED re-oiling. Fairly regularly if you’re cleaning them. I never use soap on my wood boards. They get rinsed in hot water (NOT submerged) while being scrubbed with a plastic scrubby pad and then they are stood on end to dry so that air can circulate all around them.

The wood kills bacteria on its own. A wood board is actually cleaner than a synthetic one. (This was scientifically proven during the course of trying to find out how to disinfect a wood cutting board like you can with synthetics. The DISINFECTED synthetic boards had more bacteria than a wood board that had NOT been disinfected.)
If they get grungy, they get dampened and then scrubbed with kosher salt and a scrubby pad, rinsed with hot water, stood to dry and then re-oiled… sometimes they only need a light oiling. You can tell by looking at them when they need oiling. Usually the centers get lighter than the edges when dry.

The oil is just keeping light liquids and juices from deeply staining the wood. And it keeps the wood from completely drying out and cracking. You use mineral oil (not walnut oil or olive oil or any other food oil) because mineral oil doesn’t go rancid and ALL food oils will. A cutting board made to look pretty and not get used or only RARELY get used, needs almost no maintenance at all. A board meant to be USED will need to be oiled occasionally and cleaned with salt occasionally. That’s the nature of a real wood cutting board. Just ask someone who actually uses them every day or nearly every day.

And my cast iron cookware never sees soap either. Scrubbed with extremely hot water, dried, then put on a burner to heat up and evaporate ALL the water, then oiled while warm, wiped and put away. Makes them some of the best non-stick cookware I own and no chemical coatings to come off on your food or… sorry….I know that’s not a wood cutting board, but the idea is the same. If a piece is meant to be used and to last, it needs to be taken care of correctly :)

Ask a cook! hehehe (who also just happens to do woodworking…)

View a1Jim's profile


118322 posts in 5033 days

#11 posted 11-18-2012 07:54 PM

There are other finishes out there other than mineral oil(not really a finish) Folks always think that poly is not food safe and I know this is not the prevailing thought about poly,but if you think about it the only ingredients in poly that’s harmful is it’s thinner once it dry’s you good to go,.Folks talk about and swear that poly will be cut off when chopping on a cutting board but that really doesn’t wash either because most of the finish is in the grain(if thinned down and you do not apply 10 coats of poly) and if a very very small about ends up in your food,it would not be harmful.


View Charlie's profile


1101 posts in 3742 days

#12 posted 11-18-2012 07:59 PM

I guarantee you will be eating poly if you use it on a cutting board. I mean USE the cutting board. Some of the cutting boards I’ve seen LJers making are absolutely gorgeous and I’d have a hard time using something so good looking. :) SHELLAC would make a better finish on a cutting board than poly. You eat shellac all the time anyways.

No sir. Don’t try to finish a natural wood cutting board with any kind of film finish if the board is actually meant to be used.

Apologies if I sound adamant, but I admit to having a real bias in this regard. So… just my opinion. Nice thing about opinions. We all have ‘em. Hope mine isn’t ruffling feathers as I appear to be trying to jam it down throats as the only valid opinion. :)

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 3943 days

#13 posted 11-18-2012 08:02 PM

Here is what I found on a customer edge grain counter top in an RV I did:

The customer wanted a butcher block type edge grain counter top so I agreed to make it for them with the provision that I would use mineral oil as the finish.
The counter top was built in Florence, South Carolina, (about 300’ above sea level… this is important!).
I soaked it in a watering trough over night and let it sit for a day to dry, then repeated.
The day time temps were in the 80-90° range and the overnight temps were @ 75-80°.

I would swear that I probably soaked a half gallon of mineral oil into the wood.

3 weeks after putting his galley together, we got together and took a trip up to Eastern TN, – Western VA and back down the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Every morning we wiped up puddles of mineral oil on the counter. I don’t know if it was temp differences, altitude differences or just the natural swelling of the wood in the humidity.

When we got home I dismantled the counter top and soaked it again, this time placing it in one of those vacuum storage bags. I used a shop vac, Crapsman, I think, and left it running overnight.
The next morning I took it out and set it in the sun to dry.
The next day I put a mixture of bee’s wax and mineral oil in the bag and let it sit overnight with a vacuum.

He’s been using it for the last 8 years and has been to West Yellowstone, MT. (Altitude 8600’), and up into Alaska with no problems.
He did go down to Quartzite , Az for an RV convention one year and had a small problem, but nothing like the first problem.

This was just my experience, I wonder if yours would differ much?

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View a1Jim's profile


118322 posts in 5033 days

#14 posted 11-18-2012 08:18 PM

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5368 posts in 5416 days

#15 posted 11-18-2012 08:35 PM

Experts are folks with a briefcase who are more than 6 miles from home.
I abhore poly for anything other than floors or table tops.
I good coat of mineral oil will do just fine. Soaking is a bit of overkill. A weekly application if the board is used regularly will do just fine.
Oiling is kinda like watering plants. Just enough is just enough.
I’m sure that I’ve probably pi$$ed a bunch of cutting board makers. Oh well…..

-- [email protected]

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