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cleaning food/wooden chopping block, or,

updated fri 18 nov 05


pdp1@EARTHLINK.NET on thu 17 nov 05

prepairing them in the first place

Hi Liz, all...

As far as I know, Mineral Oil is no 'germicide', aside from maybe smothering
some of
them maybe, or making their motility tiresome for them, but like any
approximately chemically neutral
semi-viscous liquid disposed to capillary migration, it will soak into the
Wood, and in doing so, will occupy somewhat the sides of the various pores
and small fissures.

Really, used Crank Case Oil would be a muuch better germicide, but would
tend to impart that sort of 'nutty' flavor beloved of traditional mechanics
when they pensively bite their nails or finget tips in thought...

Mineral Oils will tend to take an awefully long time to Oxidize or harden,
or to ever really fill any poors or fissures,
decades anyway, at least for them to somewhat or partially do so in an
Oxidezed 'solid' way.

So it makes more sense to me to consider to use an Organic or Vegetable Oil
of some kind which either will Oxidize-harden, or which will be encouraged
to do so sooner with the addition of some agent such as Japan Drier.

Linseed Oil, Tung Oil, and various other 'drying' Oils, some Turpentine, and
a slug of Japan Drier, mixed together well and applied warm, and
applied numerous times, will do a much beter job of it than Mineral Oil for
those reasons.

Probably Animal fats or Oils, applied hot, will also do an excellent job
they liesurely Oxidize far enough, but their odor in the meantime will not
tend to be
pleasant...and their bacterial encouragements and succouring prior to
Oxidizing in the mean time would also be liabilities.

Olive Oil, like Mineral Oil in the sense that it will take forever to dry,
is also commonly used for Wooden Cutting Boards...but with poor results in
my view.

Probably the most effective and intentional initial prepairation of a Wood
Cutting-Board, would be for it to be immersed into a warm solution of
Polyethelyneglycol, at whatever concentration is appropriate, for as long as
needed, for that material to be drawn in thoroughly to fill the pores and to
displace inherant moisture, and so
on...and then to harden as it will, so as to exclude as much as possible,
any fluid or atmospheric absorptions or exchanges of any kind whatsoever.

Most Bacteria of course do not tend to endure dessication, and any context
of Water or moisture being absent, will necessarily cease to favor their

Of course, if one is a Vegarian, then none of this is of any concern as for
one's Cutting Boards...

Now, if I were called upon to tidy up an older or used Wooden Cutting Board,
( which I sometimes am, )
if it's knife marks and wear were not too deep or irregular, I would merely
use a Cabinet Scraper and scrape it well and slick, and Oil it liberally
(and rub down slick before the surface of each successive treatment gets too
gummy, ) with the
Linseed, Turps and Japan drier.

Probably any Wooden Cutting Board which is not made of a hard Maple, hard
Birch or the likes, and or
not so made also as to have the quarter sawn side 'up' of it's paralell
lengths of Wood glued together, is a Cutting Board which was made by
indifferent or naive operatives who were after some effect other than
earnest for the merits of their product.

Of course there are many non-traditional Woods which technically would make
quite good to excellent Cutting Boards, with no 'treatments' whatsoever,
some of which Woods contain antibacterial chemicals and Oils naturally, as
well as being approximately impervious to liquids or fats and so on. These
woods are usually expensive, and, say, a Cocobolo or Rosewood of some kind,
an Ebony or Boxwood or a Lignum Vitae Cutting Board would seem, well, a
little showy or extravagant maybe...

Maple seems to have been the traditional Wood in Western Cultures, with
Beech sometimes having been used also in Europe. I would think a hard Beech,
in the correctly elected sections would be as good as a hard Maple.

Yellow Birch also would likely be very good...

Chopping Blocks of course, as distinct from Cutting Boards, were
traditionally made to emply the Wood ( usually hard Maple, ) situated so the
end grain was the working surface, and not the long grain...

On and on...


Las Vegas

----- Original Message -----
From: "Liz Willoughby"

> Hello Mel,
> I have also been concerned about bacteria in wood cutting boards. I
> was at a studio of wood makers, where they earn their living by
> making wooden boards. I asked them how to clean my boards to keep
> them germ free. They said that they finished their boards using
> mineral oil because it works as a natural germicide for wood.
> Forgotten exactly how they explained that it worked, but has
> something to do with the reaction of wood to mineral oil. She
> recommended that I rub mineral oil into the wood every so often,
> after cleaning with soap and water.
> Maybe someone else knows exactly what these wood makers were talking
> Best regards, Liz
> >the advice that i follow in keeping counter and
> >wooden chopping blocks clean is:
> >
> >flood things with vinegar. it may be the best cleaner
> >you have in the kitchen.
> >
> >just a tip.
> >mel
> >from mel/
> >website:
> --
> Liz from Grafton, Ontario, Canada
> "Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are . . . something
> to do, something to love, and something to hope for."
> Joseph Addison
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