How to care for wood in the kitchen

Wood is wonderful.

But wood can be a stick in the mud if you don’t know how to care for it.

Wood is like leather. Trees and cows are fine in the rain, but a little moisture can damage a beautiful butcher block just like it can damage a lovely leather jacket. And just like leather, not enough moisture will cause your wood to dry out, crack and split.

At least with wood there’s help. If your wooden spoons are cracked an splitting, it’s probably too late.

cracked

Unfortunately, there’s no magic number of days

or weeks when to treat your wood products.

But if they’re fuzzy, there’s something you can do.

Wait, fuzzy?

Yes, wood can look fuzzy. Like this:

IMG_3391

This spoon has been exposed to too much moisture without being oiled or waxed. To get this spoon looking shiny and new, you’ll have to use sandpaper to get the “fuzz” off.  After that, rub a wood care product—like mineral oil or beeswax—on it to make it shiny and to protect it.

You can even use a cooking oil to help moisturize the wood. If you do, make sure you use one that doesn’t go rancid like sunflower or canola oil. Olive oil is a bad choice because will give off a putrid smell after a while.

before and after

In this picture, I only treated half of the spoon to show you the difference a little elbow grease can make.

It’s best if you treat your wood products on a regular basis to prevent any splitting or fuzzing. Unfortunately, there’s no magic number of days or weeks when to treat your wood products. It depends on the type of wood, the quality of the product, the moisture level in your home, etc.

Here’s some options you can find in any kitchenware store:

  1. Mineral oil

This is the most widely available, but make sure it’s food grade or “NSF.”  It’s easy to use but if you’re not careful it can be messy. A little drop of this stuff goes a long way. It feels almost like cooking oil and absorbs fast. Just make sure the mineral oil you use is food safe. (Note: some people aren’t crazy about mineral oil because it is a petroleum product)

  1. Beeswax

Beeswax is great if you want to go natural. It’s more difficult to apply because it’s so thick. If you’re looking for a natural alternative like beeswax, make sure you read the label. Some have mineral oil added to make them easier to apply.

  1. Wood creams

These are usually a combination of beeswax and mineral oil. They have the consistency of some hand lotions and people usually find them easiest to use.

  1. Vegan alternatives

These are harder to find. They contain plant-based ingredients like rice oil. Caron & Doucet offers a full suite of plant-based oils and waxes for the kitchen. Check them out if you want a natural, vegan alternative.

Because of it’s accessibility, ease of use and low price tag, my kitchen pick is mineral oil.

 

 

 

 

 

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