I don't know about the US, but in Canada the Health Inspectors have effectively removed wooden boards and blocks from use. They are hard to clean and have caused more cases of cross contamination than any food handler. My suggestion is to throw the wood away and buy a proper man-made cutting board. They are easy to clean and ease your mind on the danger associated with contamination issues. Just my opinion....
Thank you for your kind and considered suggestion - I'll not follow your advice. Although I have some man-made boards (can you call that plastic/nylon stuff a board?), I really prefer wood most of the time. I like the way it looks, I like the way it feels, and wood has been good enough for hundreds of years. I'm not one of those people who are too concerned with contamination issues. The boards are kept clean, and I'm not going to be examining them with a microscope to look for bacteria. Further, there are enough reports out that indicate wood is as safe as, or safer than, plastic.
There's nothing more tasty than a salad that has been prepared on a wooden board where, just minutes before, a raw chcken has been resting at room temerature for 45-minutes. Just a quick wipe with a dirty dish towel and you're good to go <LOL>
Be that as it may, my question dealt with the proper oil for a wooden board, not whether or not I should continue using one - which I shall continue doing for as long as can use a knife, or until the Cutting Board Police crash through my front door.
Mineral oil is the best choice. Usually a special low viscosity type is recommended and used for cutting boards. This is a bit pricier. Many people prefer to buy mineral oil in the pharmacy section as it's cheaper there. Many uses, usually for skin, ear wax problems and laxative effects. It's just as safe but not as quickly absorbed in the wood.
Many people also use mineral oil on their carbon steel knives for kitchen use as the oil is stable, protective, and food safe.
Although I do use the mineral oil specified for wood (and often sold as "butcher block" oil, it's just because it's easy for me to pick it up at the same time I'm buying wood.
But, as near as I can tell, the pharmacy stuff works just as well. And is a lot cheaper.
Besides which, how many home-cooks are in that much of a rush that absorbsion time matters? I tell my customers to let it sit overnight, then wipe off any excess. So time of absorbsion shouldn't be an issue, even if true.
"My suggestion is to throw the wood away and buy a proper man-made cutting board. "
Trust me, Jigz, you do not want to go there; not on this message board. Not unless you're ready for a knock-down, drag-out bruhaha of the first order.
Don't throw away that wooden board- send it to me.
Seriously, use USP grade mineral oil which is pretty cheap and highly effective- doesn't get rancid. Allow to sit for a few hours, and wipe well. Never heard of "cutting board oil" but I would bet it's USP oil with a fancy label and price.
Go to Sweden, uh, make that Ikea, and pick up some oil made for cutting boards and countertops. Also, any hardware store should carry some type of food grade oil for cutting boards/butcher blocks. Tung oil is a natural substance, but it's usually mixed with some nasty chemicals to help apply it. These chemicals dissapte as the oil dries though. I prefer a beeswax paste for my baker's tables, availbe from Mohawk Finishes, a specialist store that deals with woodworking finishes, but Lee Valley also caries it.
Please, please, pretty please stay away from any food oil, veg oil, or olive oil. These types of oils will do two things, 1, they will become rancid, and 2 they will become sticky/gummy. All food based oils will do this, which is why you should never lubricate or treat anything (like meat slicers or oilstones...) with food based oil.
Consumer Reports did a study of wood cutting boards vs plastic. They compared bacteria levels after use (I forget the details). They expected plastic to be cleaner but wood was the surprise winner. Wood somehow drew in the bacteria and killed it, not kidding.
For those interested in the science..... (sorry but it's my thing)
Veggy oil, lard and the like are triglycerides (3 fatty acids attached to glycerol backbone). With time these glycerides detach and react with other things like the wood pulp. Many natural oil glycerides also have sections that are unsaturated so they react with the air and become rancid. The rancidity helps to cross link with other glycerides to create a gummy plastic like substance. (application example:If you use flax seed oil (linseed) a very unsaturated oil, wood dust and natural fibers, roll into sheets and heat it up you end up with linoleum.)
Better to use a mineral oil (pharmacy grade or food grade).
Melted beeswax is good also.
These substance are not glycerides, are saturated and unreactive.
Shel; I get mineral oil at the dollar store.When I oil my boards I also oil anything else made of wood like wooden spoons,spatulas...etc.Heavily coat everything and leave overnight. absorb excess oil with paper towels the next day and your done.never use any edible oil i.e.olive oil,that too goes rancid,all edible oil do...good cookin...cookie
I've never thought to oil my spoons. They don't seem to need it, although it does seem like a good idea. I've only two wooden utensils, both, I believe, are made of bamboo, and are "dishwasher safe." I've had 'em since 1978 or 1979, and both are still in great shape, although the one I use most is nicely worn down - no longer spoon shaped.
I just got two free spoons at the local Farmers Market. They don't seem to be of the same high quality, and I bet they'd be helped by oiling.
My son has made and sold many many cutting boards and he researched the oil and sanitary questions. He found two or three papers published by the Food Sciences School of the Univ. of Wisconsin at Milwaukee ( as I recall) that concluded after many experiments that wood boards were indeed more sanitary than impervious plastic. The bugs stayed on the surface of the plastic and, unless carefully cleaned (which isn't all that hard with a D/W) can carry over to the next cutting item.
Wood board being porous, any microbes left over from cleaning (NOT in the D/W!) are absorbed into the pores of the wood where... they die.
As above, USP mineral oil is the choice of the experts. Cheap at any drugstore, doesn't become rancid. With a new board, coat once a day for a week, once a week for another month, and than every six months or so, as needed.