Protect Your Wood
Posted on January 19 2022
Whenever I am doing a show or in conversation and the topic of wood comes up, one of the most frequently asked questions I am asked is – what the best way is to protect and care for wood? Whether it be a cutting board or wood utensil or any variation thereof, everyone wants to know how to care for and treat their wood.
Treating and protecting your charcuterie board or wooden spoon is easy. The main thing is you want to keep the wood protected and nourished. You can accomplish both by a combination of beeswax and food grade mineral oil. A product we make and sell called Board Butter does just that. Our Board Butter is made by heating up and melting all-natural beeswax and gently heating up the oil and then combining the two in the correct ratios.
Board butter made from beeswax and mineral oil is certainly not the only way to keep your board looking fresh – but it’s what we use, make and coat every charcuterie board, serving board, grazing board and cheese board in our shop.
If you have never treated your boards or utensils – its not too late to start.
First things first – give them a good cleaning. And REMEMBER, never ever use your dishwasher. The dishwasher simply gets too hot for the wood and can cause it to warp or crack. A gentle cleaning of warm soapy water will do the trick. If your board smells a bit funky from cutting up onions, garlic, etc, clean it off with some lemon juice and let that sit and soak up the sun.
Now that you are starting off with a fresh clean charcuterie board or wooden spatula you can begin restoring and protecting your board. If you do not want to go through the trouble of making your own board butter, or don’t want to buy it from RusticWares – that’s fine it is not necessary.
If you visit your local hardware store they should have several items to help you protect your boards. The first is simple and straight forward – food grade mineral oil. This should come in a small plastic bottle made specifically for treating and protecting cutting boards, butcher blocks, etc. Simply wipe it on, wait a little bit and wipe again to remove any excess. You can do this a couple of times if you are starting off with raw wood – or haven’t ever treated your wood.
Letting the excess oil sit on top for a little while allows the wood to soak up even more and really let it get a good drink. That is the best feature of food grade mineral oil is its ability to soak deep into the wood. Ive coated a board with this oil before and the cut in to it and have seen it penetrate the wood deep down.
Don’t let the name of mineral oil scare you off. Yes, it is a petroleum-based product – but I assure you it is safe to ingest. Be careful – there is a difference between mineral oil and food grade mineral oil – so just be sure and double check your packaging. Food grade mineral oils are highly refined and safe in the food industry per the FDA.
Mineral Oil is not the only product that should be on the shelves at the hardware store. There is a popular product out there from Howard called Butcher Block Conditioner. It is more of a thicker consistency paste than slippery mineral oil but contains food grade mineral oil along with beeswax and carnauba wax.
This is the product I used for a long time until the volume of boards I was producing forced me in to looking at other options I could buy in bulk and create myself. For single household use – the one 12 oz bottle should last you quite some time.
As mentioned, mineral oil best properties is its ability to seep deep down in to the wood, whereas beeswax has superior water resistant qualities. So combining the two creates the best of both worlds, deep down penetration and water protection.
You don’t have to treat each of your boards, bowls and wooden utensils every time you use them – but you will get a feel for when they’re due for a good coating.
Quick Board Butter recipe:
No matter the amount you are making you want a 4:1 ratio of oil to beeswax. This recipe will give you more than enough for yourself and even some to gift out to others.
- 16 oz food grade mineral oil
- 4 oz beeswax
- Fill a mason jar with 16 oz of mineral oil. Place it in a pot and fill with water about a ¼ of the way up the mason jar. Turn heat to medium low.
- Take your 4oz of beeswax. Ideally in pellet form, or shredded with a cheese grate and put in to a different mason jar. Place that in a different pot and fill with water about 1/3 of the way up. Turn heat to medium high – the point here is to melt the beeswax
- Side not – this jar will likely be ruined from here on out – so place it aside for making more board butter in the future.
- Once beeswax is melted – remove both jars from heat source.
- Add the warm oil to the beeswax
- Stir for complete consistency
- Pour in to whatever containers you choose. (I like the 4oz quilted jam jars if you are going to give some of this to friends)
Well there you have it – quick and easy board butter. But of course if you do not feel like making a mess, you can always buy it from RusticWares.
Now go out and protect your wood!