White spots on end grain cutting board

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Forum topic by PoleVault posted 02-29-2016 04:59 AM 458 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 746 days

02-29-2016 04:59 AM

So, I recently completed some walnut end grain cutting boards and I don’t know if I’ve messed them up or not! Any time water gets on the board, it leaves a whitish spot where the water was after it dries. The board was finished with a diluted salad bowl finish and it looked fantastic… But I’m not sure what to do. I assume the finish is to blame. I followed the wood whisperers method but must have done something wrong in the process…

I’m afraid to wash it now for fear that it will look terrible!

4 replies so far

View nerdbot's profile


97 posts in 784 days

#1 posted 02-29-2016 05:14 AM

I believe that’s normal. It just may be your finish didn’t reach the surface. Even when I heavily oiled my boards (to the point it would weep mineral oil for days), if I didn’t oil them regularly (e.g., a month or so of use/washing with no oiling) the board would lighten in color.

Check out MTM Wood’s FAQ on board care:

View splintergroup's profile


734 posts in 645 days

#2 posted 02-29-2016 07:48 PM

Try reapplying some oil (I like mineral oil). Also, if you have hard water in your area, the spots could just be calcium deposits.

View JBrow's profile


750 posts in 343 days

#3 posted 03-01-2016 02:56 AM


I can see why you dislike these stains. The cutting board looks great!

Try the other advice you receive first, but so in only a small area. This way, if the advice fails, the problem has not been made worse.

If these are hard water spots (which would be white), then a weak acid will dissolve the calcium and magnesium deposits. Household vinegar is such an acid. If re-oiling one of the stains does not work and you cannot live with the spots, first pick a small area and determine whether vinegar applied with a vinegar-dampened cloth will discolor the wood. If the wood does not discolor, pick a small area where a light spot is found and see if vinegar will lift the spot. Several applications may be required, since so little vinegar is being used.

If the first attempt using vinegar fails, the oil may be keeping the vinegar from reaching the stain. Therefore before giving up on vinegar, use acetone (available at the hardware store) as a pre-treatment to the vinegar. However, as before, check to ensure the acetone will not discolor the wood. Acetone can pull moisture from the cutting board, so if the area where acetone was applied discolors, apply a little water to determine whether discoloration is from the acetone or from moisture being pulled from the walnut. If no discoloration from the acetone, then pretreat a small stain with acetone and then apply vinegar.

It would probably be a good idea to neutralize vinegar after it is applied. This is done by dissolving some baking soda in water. Dampen a cloth with this mixture and wipe the areas where vinegar was applied. Repeat about 3 times then wipe the areas with a cloth dampened with plain water, again several times.

View PoleVault's profile


8 posts in 746 days

#4 posted 03-05-2016 06:28 AM

A good wipe with the mineral oil seems to have done the trick. There is still a faint shadowing from the water spots (probably from the hard water). Fortunately, it’s a cutting board that will see good use, so it doesn’t have to be perfect! I think the surface dried out a bit because we had placed a towel on it to protect it during transport to its new home… That must have sucked up the mineral oil on the surface, leaving the cutting board vulnerable to the water. I’ll probably have to refinish it for the new owners in a year or two while we are visiting for the holidays.

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