Mineral Oil Wicking Out of End Grain Cutting Boards

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Forum topic by BigMig posted 12-14-2012 08:45 PM 2356 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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440 posts in 2636 days

12-14-2012 08:45 PM

Topic tags/keywords: mineral mineral oil cutting board end grain cutting board end grain

I finished sanding 3 cutting boards and began applying straight mineral oil several days ago. After a several applications, the oil was beginning to wick out through the bottom of the boards. So I turned them over and applied oil to that surface too.

Now, when I handle the boards, they wick out a little oil where my hands have been. Have I applied too much oil? If I want to apply a last wax/oil mix, should I apply that to the boards as they are, or prep them in some way first?


-- Mike from Lansdowne, PA

12 replies so far

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2994 days

#1 posted 12-14-2012 09:52 PM

What kind of wood did you use?
Wicking sounds like Red Oak or Ash.
It is important to note that Rockhard Maple and a few other closed grained hardwoods are the only suitable woods for cutting board use.

One should never use oak, ash, hickory or other open grained woods for a cutting surface as the pores can harbor germs and decaying food particles.

Softer closed grained woods deteriorate with knife cuts and usage and become unsanitary and wood splinters or particles wind up in foodstuffs.

Mineral oil never dries and never really seals the surface. If you have open pores like Red Oak it will indeed wick right through.
A combination of 10 parts mineral oil and 1 part paraffin, heated till melted together, will probably be the best thing to do at this point. The paraffin tends to clog up the pores when it cools. But, in the long run, this is not a fix, just a get by. Food can still get in there.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4948 posts in 3983 days

#2 posted 12-14-2012 10:09 PM

Crank has it nailed.
That’s why I use UHMW for cutting boards.
Not a slam on the craft. Just a way I work in the kitchen. The wood boards are really nice, but not my choice for regular use.


View Towtruck's profile


70 posts in 2632 days

#3 posted 12-14-2012 10:11 PM

Is this true of all Ash? I recently acquired some brown ash that I would like to use for a cutting board. It seems to be tighter grain than the white ash I’m used to.

-- I cut it off 3 times and it's still too short!

View NewEnglandsWoodWorks's profile


117 posts in 2624 days

#4 posted 12-14-2012 10:15 PM

I don’t like to use mineral oil on cutting boards. As mentioned above it never really cures and never fully protects the board. I use a food safe varnish sold by General Finishes under the name of salad bowl finish.


-- Brett

View BigMig's profile


440 posts in 2636 days

#5 posted 12-14-2012 10:57 PM

Thanks all; the boiards are made from hard maple, purpleheart and a very small amount of cherry. No oak, no ash, etc.

I’m aware MO doesn’t cure, but it can be replenished and MO will prevent water from penetrating…that’s the theory

I’ll try the 1:10 mix of MO & Parrafin.

-- Mike from Lansdowne, PA

View LeChuck's profile


424 posts in 3085 days

#6 posted 12-14-2012 11:09 PM

I’ve read studies saying that there is less bacteria developing on oak, because of the tannic content, than on plastic, because of all the micro cuts it gets where bacteria can develop.

-- David - Tucson, AZ

View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 2116 days

#7 posted 12-15-2012 03:51 AM

Mineral oil doesn’t penetrate very far into the wood. It’s there mostly to make the wood somewhat more water resistant. It’s there to help prevent cracking. I’d just wipe off the excess and keep wiping it off as it comes up. Eventually you’ll need to re-apply the mineral oil.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18285 posts in 3699 days

#8 posted 12-15-2012 04:34 AM

Bill, What is UHMW ?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View pintodeluxe's profile


5702 posts in 2836 days

#9 posted 12-15-2012 04:58 AM

Mineral oil, while safe, is a terrible finish for cb’s. I prefer Howard’s butcher block conditioner which is a mixture of mineral oil and waxes. It dries velvety smooth, and is very easy to work. It is cheap, and available from Home Depot.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Biff's profile


126 posts in 2037 days

#10 posted 12-15-2012 05:36 AM

I’ve had great luck with the 1/2 mineral oil, 1/2 beeswax mixture. Plus it leaves a nice shine on the board!

-- Interested in Oregon property? Visit me at

View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 2116 days

#11 posted 12-15-2012 08:20 AM

I think UHMW refers ultra high molecular weight. I was under the impression it referred to a kind of plastic. I assume he’s saying the cutting boards he uses are ultra high molecular weight plastic.

Hopefully he’ll confirm or deny this. I’d rather not have my foot lodged in my mouth.

View harvey4804's profile


120 posts in 2704 days

#12 posted 12-15-2012 08:25 AM

Purrmaster, you are correct.

-- Ryan, FRMR HMM165 - HMX1 01-10

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