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  • Red Oak for cutting board???

    I have been making a cutting board from some scrap red oak and so far, so good. I did some checking on the internet and I read somewhere that red oak is not really good for cutting boards due to being very porous. I just wanted to see if any of you have an opinion about this? Also, the wood has a strong smell to it and I wonder if the smell will "calm down" after I treat it with mineral oil??? This board is made along the grain, I didn't make it using the end grain. Opinions please.

  • #2
    Re: Red Oak for cutting board???

    Chester,

    Everything that I have read has said "NO" to using red oak for any kind of food preparation or serving, etc. The wood is very porous and would be literally a "farm" for breeding germs. Food particles and bacteria would easily penetrate and grow in the open pores. I doubt that any sealer would absolutely guarantee the prevention of this.

    I believe most cutting boards are maple or some similarly closed-grain hardwood.

    Sorry,

    CWS

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    • #3
      Re: Red Oak for cutting board???

      Suggestion: Call up a few restaurant and steakhouse managers. Ask them what the local health department rules say about chopping blocks. In my area for over 5 years all wood butcher blocks (used in a commercial kitchen) had to be covered with some wild high price white plastic that's about 1/2" thick. There were both bacteria issues and also where tiny wood chips were coming off the wood blocks and getting into food. I have a good feeling that there is some $$$ for the local govt in the form of kickbacks regarding this white plastic material. I bet over time it chips and guess where the chips end up. I will add that for years Rock Maple has been used. With no varnish or such, I heard it was rubbed down with hot animal fat grease to seal the pores. Again, I would try asking several restaurant managers or maybe call your local health dept.

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      • #4
        Re: Red Oak for cutting board???

        Chester,

        Here is a link to another forum that I recall had a recent discussion on cutting boards: http://www.bt3central.com/showthread...cutting+boards

        As I recall, there are a couple of links from those posts that provide some very good information.

        I hope this helps,

        CWS

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Red Oak for cutting board???

          I found this article interesting reading. You can draw your own conclusions from it. I see oak cutting boards for sale everywhere and that is how they are usually advertised, oak cutting boards", not white oak or red oak just oak.

          I've made and given away red oak cutting boards as gifts and use one in my home. Seems to me that cleaning one with antibacterial dish soap and warm water should take care of any germs but I'm certainly no expert on that subject.
          Last edited by BadgerDave; 02-20-2007, 06:45 PM.
          Teach your kids about taxes..........eat 30 percent of their ice cream.

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          • #6
            Re: Red Oak for cutting board???

            Originally posted by Woussko View Post
            Suggestion: Call up a few restaurant and steakhouse managers. Ask them what the local health department rules say about chopping blocks. In my area for over 5 years all wood butcher blocks (used in a commercial kitchen) had to be covered with some wild high price white plastic that's about 1/2" thick. There were both bacteria issues and also where tiny wood chips were coming off the wood blocks and getting into food. I have a good feeling that there is some $$$ for the local govt in the form of kickbacks regarding this white plastic material. I bet over time it chips and guess where the chips end up. I will add that for years Rock Maple has been used. With no varnish or such, I heard it was rubbed down with hot animal fat grease to seal the pores. Again, I would try asking several restaurant managers or maybe call your local health dept.
            I'm no expert on this but at least here as far as restaurants and commercial places no wood chopping blocks of any kind are allowed. I'm pretty sure only the plastic type stuff is allowed.

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            • #7
              Re: Red Oak for cutting board???

              Maple is the best choice because of the lack of pores in the wood. With that said, you can try this when you oil it up. Used some 400 wet/dry sandpaper with the oil. The fine particles will help plug the pores in the wood.

              Mark
              Congratulations to Mr. "the sky is falling" Al Gore, nominated the new Village Idiot!

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              • #8
                Re: Red Oak for cutting board???

                We've had oak cutting boards for over 30 years and have never had food poisoning. (Actually, I have had food poisoning twice, courtesy of military chow halls). We wash them immediately after using them for any meats or fish, which removes the contaminants before they spoil. To finish a large-pore wood for food use, you can melt one part paraffin into 5 parts mineral oil in a double boiler. Pour it onto the board while it is all still fluid. After it cools wipe off the excess and buff it out. If it completely soaks in, repeat. The paraffin will seal the pores. Wash in hot soapy water after use, but do not put it through a dishwasher machine, because the higher heat will melt the paraffin and leach out the oil (not to mention that it may destroy the glue). Re-treat as necessary, dependant on use. If the meat juice starts staining the board, its past time to re-treat.
                As for plastic boards, I have also seen reports where food gets caught in the microscopic knife slices and cannot be removed through normal hand washing. Regardless, food from a well maintained and cleaned cutting board in your home is still probably much safer than that you get at a commercial restaurant.
                If someone in your household has an immune deficiency (either permanent or the result of medication), you can use tempered glass cutting boards, but will be sharpening your knives frequently, or clean the boards with a bleach solution in addition to the soap and water.( Cleaning with bleach is also a good idea before re-treating a stained board. Let it dry well before applying the paraffin/oil mix). Seek advice from your physician or a health professional to be safe or if you have doubts.

                As for the red oak, it can really stink when cut. Wet red oak can smell almost as bad as puke when cut with a chain saw. Part of the odor is the high level of tannic acid, which is a good thing because it will kill bacteria. The odor will go away after a short while. Kiln-dried usually has much less odor while being milled. Black Walnut, another relatively large-pored wood commonly used for cutting boards, also can stink, for the same reason.

                Disclaimer: The above info is from my experience and info from the internet. It is not an informed medical opinion.

                JMTCW

                Go
                Last edited by Gofor; 02-20-2007, 08:57 PM.
                Practicing at practical wood working

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                • #9
                  Re: Red Oak for cutting board???

                  Thank you all for the great replies. All very interesting and informative. I guess there are pros and cons and each with it's own merit. I guess cleanliness is the key factor, regardless of material used. Thanks again for the responses!

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