I received a wooden butter knife in the mail fairly recently: now my only question is this, will it need sanding to maintain its food worthiness or does it require something else to keep it food safe? I got it from Amazon.com if it helps.


4 Answers 4


It's hard to say exactly without knowing what wood it's made out of and how it was constructed - there are many factors to the durability of wooden tools and utensils. If all you are using this for is spreading butter, margarine and the like then you shouldn't need to do too much care, just wash it and especially dry it thoroughly after use. It's rotting that is usually the issue with wooden utensils.

I wouldn't sand it unless bits of wood start sticking out of it, which could happen depending on the direction of the grain. Sanding without having a good reason could actually cause you more problems then it would solve as you'll be rubbing off any finish it came with.

  • 3
    I have one, though I don't think I've ever used it. Mine is very smooth and I suspect might have been oiled. My concern with actual butter would be rancidity if it soaks in.
    – Chris H
    Nov 3, 2021 at 11:43
  • I have wooden spoons and boards which I've used for years on end @ChrisH, I've never had anything get rancid because I keep them clean.
    – GdD
    Nov 3, 2021 at 16:14
  • Me too, but the other things don't tend to get butter rubbed into them, so I thought a little more care might be needed with the knife (personally I put my wooden spoons through the dishwasher, and wouldn't with the rather nice butter knife - which is why I don't use it)
    – Chris H
    Nov 3, 2021 at 16:16
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    I would never put anything wood in the dishwasher @ChrisH. The secret to keeping wood in good shape is to keep it dry, wash them by hand and dry them, but a dishwasher douses them with water for hours, then heats them up to a very high temperature, which is a great way to warp them.
    – GdD
    Nov 3, 2021 at 16:43
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    At least one of my cheap wooden spoons is over 20 years old, 15 of them since I've had a dishwasher. It probably goes through about once a week, so over 700 times in total. That's fine. But I wouldn't put a wooden chopping board in there, or any of my nice/decorative wooden things. Note that I also put my everyday knives through it, and can go a few weeks without handwashing (the hot water takes so long to reach the sink because of a long pipe that it's quicker to resharpen a knife than wait for the water to run hot)
    – Chris H
    Nov 3, 2021 at 16:47

I believe that in order to use your wooden knife without worries, you just need to regularly clean it with hot water, a bit of dish soap and some scrubbing - same as with wooden chopping boards. If you want to maintain a nice sheen you can use a little bit of vegetable oil that you rub into the wood using some kitchen towels.

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    Or, perhaps, instead of vegetable oil, a food grade mineral oil. Nov 3, 2021 at 14:16

I don't see how sanding would affect the "food worthiness" of a tool, or why it needs to be repeatedly treated in this manner. What are you expecting the sanding to accomplish?

If you are asking if it's safe to eat with, let me point out that it's the same material as cutting boards and wooden spoons. Wood wicks away moisture quickly so has natural anti-microbial properties. You just need to make sure to let it dry completely, and in professional situations they can be cleaned with salt.

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    If anything, sanding is more likely to impart impurities to the wood in the form of grit than it is to remove them.
    – barbecue
    Nov 3, 2021 at 23:02
  • Of course, cutting boards and wooden spoons are sanded when they are made.
    – JDługosz
    Nov 4, 2021 at 14:15

First off: wash by hand, not a dishwasher (kicking in an open door). Heat and moisture make wood warp, so the less exposure to either/both the better. You should not sand it unless it gets rough (raised grain) chips or any other damage.

The easiest and best way to make sure it is and remains food safe is to apply a food safe oil. Do not use olive oil as it can go rancid and stink. Lemon oil, walnut oil or linseed oil are good choices. There is a saying a saying that to fully impregnated wood with oil you need to soak it in oil, each day for a week; each week for a month; and each month for a year.

I would just wash it gently after use and apply your oil of choice every 10 times or so. Just a little bit applied with a paper towel.

In regards to sanding, that removes some wood, exposing "blank" wood, so apply oil again. I assume the wood itself isn't poisonous, so that should be ok.

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