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Mar 19, 2012 09:58 AM

just some observations on cutting boards......

I have now had my Boardsmith end grain board for about 3 months. I love it for sure, but have learned the differences in it and my other wood boards. My other wood boards are just the kind you get at any 'mart' store. They are the flat kind of boards and I don't know the wood they are, but they are all I have ever used until my Boardsmith board. I notice on my cheap boards, that I never had a problem with smells. Apparently the flat side of the board just does not soak up the smells. Even though I have rarely oiled the boards. I discovered this when I decided to oil all of my boards and wood bowles the same day.

I added some sweet orange essential oil to some board oil that I had. Well I added too much and all the boards were smelling really strong. But in a few days, my cheap boards and wood bowls no longer smelled like oranges. They no longer smelled at all. But my end grain board continued to hold the orange smell for a lot longer. It has now faded to just a little smell if you try to smell it.

This explains why the onion and garlic smell lingered so long on my Boardsmith board. So I now have put the mineral oil and beeswax mixture on the end grain board, and will probably add more wax to the mixture and keep that board coated with it.

Another thing I learned. That beeswax and mineral oil mixture is a GREAT hand cream. I put some in a little empty jar and now use it for my hands and feet. Ladies, it is better than anything I have bought at the store for that. I am thinking if you went heavy on the bees wax, what a good lip balm it would make.........

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  1. It is possible that most of your cutting boards are edge grain, and that the Boardsmith cutting board is end grain. As such, the Boardsmith cutting board is able to absorb more liquid and more deeply. Of course, there are many other reasons for this observation.

    Good to know that you are taking a liking to the beeswax.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      >It is possible that most of your cutting boards are edge grain<

      No, they are just flat, face of the board. Like planks, decking etc.
      Yes, I am liking the beeswax and mineral oil mixture. Was not too sure about it at first, but I like the smoothness of the board after it all settles in. (works the same for my hands too) I put my little jar in a warm oven (oven turned off) until it all melts, then I apply it.
      I first tried melting it by setting my jar in a pan of hot water, but when I tried to take the jar out, I dropped it and spilled hot oil and wax all over the stove. You haven't lived until you try and clean that mess up. Some of it even seeped around the stove top to my pots and pans below. So now, I just preheat my oven, turn it off, set my jar on a dish and leave it in the warm oven until it melts.
      But anyway, I am loving the mineral oil beeswax stuff. I get great advice and ideas from this board.

      1. re: dixiegal

        "I put my little jar in a warm oven (oven turned off) until it all melts, then I apply it."

        I put mine in the microwave for a few minutes,works like a charm..

        1. re: petek

          >I put mine in the microwave for a few minutes,works like a charm..<

          I thought about this. Even put the jar in the microwave. Then I imagined it getting too hot a blowing up all over my microwave. I do this with butter sometimes. That is why I just baught a tiny little cast iron skillet, to melt my butter for my popcorn in.

    2. I'm no expert on cutting boards, knives, etc., but I do know a bit about wood, having done some woodworking in my youth. End grain is definitely more absorptive than side or face grain, by a good margin. I've never understood why people would pay a premium for an end-grain cutting board, when it would be harder to keep clean (as you've found). Is there something about end grain that makes it more desirable as a cutting surface? More durable, maybe?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Steve Green

        An end grain cutting boad should be nicer to the knife edge and keep it sharper for longer.

      2. A little Wood 101 will help explain the difference in your cutting boards. Wood is composed of cells, there are different kinds of cells and their tasks vary, but one important task for some of the cells is to be the highway that food and nourishment for the tree travels. This "highway" is what we see as grain in the wood. Boards then have different surfaces based on the direction the grain runs. Boards can also be cut from the tree differently so there are different grain patterns that show on different surfaces. Most lumber is what is called plain sawn, this yields the most board feet of lumber from the tree. So your low cost cutting boards, are likely made up of 3 or 4 boards that are what is refered to as face grain and for cutting boards it is most common to used what are refered to as closed cell woods (maple & cherry) rather than open cell woods (oak & ash). So your inexpensive boards have very little grain and it's closed cell, so it's not very absorbent, thus less smell. It's also not very stable and that's why they warp. The next step up in cutting boards is refered to edge grain wood. This is more stable and less likely to warp and is typical of what you see in a "butcher block" counter top. Again, there is little open structure in the edge grain and in maple and cherry, you may see an interesting small fleck pattern where the grain intersects the surface. In both of these cases the knife is slicing across or with the grain of the wood and cutting wood fibers and cells. The more expensive cutting boards are made from end grian. These boards are very stable and because of their method of manufacture tend not to warp or at least not significantly. However in this case the end grain is the end of the cellular structure that was previously the highway transporting sap and the things the tree needed to stay alive and grow. Now, again, you want your cutting board to be made from a closed cell wood, but it was still a functioning tree at one point in time. So there is a pathway for liquid to enter and escape from the surface of your cutting board. Aside from the stability of an end grain cutting board, now your knife isn't cutting the wood fibers, but it is slipping down between the cells, like parting the bristles in a dart board. When the knife is removed the cells have a tendency to push back together, thus not showing the many knife cuts your board undergoes over its life. The down side is that since this surface is like the cross section horrizontally through the tree, the cells can absorb more of whatever is put on the surface. This is the reason it's so important to keep an end grain cutting board very well oiled, to prevent odors and stains. The good news is that it is very receptive to the oil and once the mineral oil or oil/beeswax (my favorite) is liberally applied and is allowed to saok into the wood, there isn't a place for the other stuff, like onion juice, etc. that you don't want in your board. Oil it liberally and often and wipe off the excess after it's had plenty of time to penetrate and your board should become odor free. Your face or edge grain boards didn't absorb the liquid odors as much because of the grain pattern, but they also don't absorb the mineral oil as much either.

        4 Replies
        1. re: mikie

          oh oh Chem..looks like there's a new doctore in must challenge him in the arena(to restore your honour) where only one will emerge as champion! :-D

          P.S very well written post/explanation mikie!

          1. re: petek

            Mikie has years of experience in woodworking. I am not going to challenge him. What honor does a gladiator has as he is but a slave? :P

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              "What honor does a gladiator has as he is but a slave?"
              Spoken like a true Roman citizen..

          2. re: mikie

            Thank you Mikie, So very informative and well written. I am now understanding my beloved wood cutting boards. Sorta like having a new pet to love and care for.:o)

          3. scrubbing with coarse salt and half a (used up) lemon will de-stink. I find this is necessary only infrequently if I'm oiling my block every couple of months, but I do use it as a disinfection method, too.

            1 Reply
            1. re: splatgirl

              I think hydro peroxide also help too. Just throwing it out.