I've been using mineral oil to oil my wooden cutting boards ever since I found out this was a good thing to do. I had a couple of bamboo boards up until I bought a really great John Boos carving board (made of maple).

When I bought the maple board, I noticed they sold something called "mystery oil". A few searches later, I found it appears to be a mix of mineral oil and linseed oil.

Since then, I have been using just mineral oil on the board(s) with no ill effects. However, I have been wondering if there is a benefit to using something other than just straight mineral oil.

Can anyone weigh in on this?

  • You can use pure linseed - that's what I do - but I have no idea if it is better or not, so not an answer.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Feb 26, 2012 at 23:25
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    I added a comment to the answer below about linseed oil. Be careful to get pure linseed oil and not a boiled linseed oil meant for woodworking. The latter will almost definitely contain heavy metal drying agents.
    – JoeFish
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 17:41
  • If the purity concerns you, get flax oil at the local health store. It's the same stuff, just highly purif. and food grade. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linseed_oil I use heavy grade mineral oil. Unlike flax, it's not a drying oil, so won't build up on you. Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 15:27
  • A mix of mineral oil and beeswax is pretty good because the wax will make it last a bit longer. Flaxseed oil (don't use lindseed oil) is also good but gives different results because it's siccative it'll polymerize, giving a darker and antique look with time and a harder suface; but you need to let it dry about 3 days first. Tung oil is an even better one that'll last longer if you want a siccative oil.
    – Wernight
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 21:50

14 Answers 14


"Better" might be a matter of interpretation. The oils will behave a bit differently, however.

Mineral Oil is a non-drying oil, which means that it will not polymerize (form a plastic-like substance) over time. This is good for oiling cutting boards because it will stay a bit liquid in the wood and flow into cracks and scratches. It is also food-safe and won't go rancid or support microorganisms.

Linseed Oil (AKA Flaxseed Oil, or Flax Oil) is also a good choice, for a different reason. Linseed Oil is a drying oil, which means it will fully polymerize and form a harder plastic layer. This is why it is about the best oil for seasoning cast iron pans. It may be more durable than mineral oil, but lacks the ability to "flow".

A blend of the two sounds like a fine idea. My favorite, Howard's Butcher Block Conditioner is a mix of Mineral Oil and natural waxes like Carnauba and Beeswax, which add a bit of that "durability" that Linseed Oil could add.

What would be a bad choice are most food oils like Canola, Olive Oil, Lard, etc. Unsaturated fats will oxidize (go rancid) and affect your food. Even oils high in saturated fats may have too many anti-oxidants (which are bad in this case), which will prevent polymerization and leave a gummy surface. These semi-drying oils are of no use here.

Whatever you use, make sure it is intended for food (Linseed Oil is a common woodworking finish, and not all versions are intended for use with food). Mineral Oil is probably more convenient for quick daily wipe-downs, while some of the blends are probably a bit more suited toward occasional re-finishing. Either way, regular application and keeping the board dry while not in use will make more difference than the exact type of oil.

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    To clarify (the part about cast iron seasoning caught my eye)--Linseed oil, Flax oil and Flaxseed oil are synonymous. +1 for the explanation about drying oils
    – Eric Hu
    Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 4:12
  • Indeed! I'll clarify the answer.
    – Sam Ley
    Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 4:26
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    Generally BLO (boiled linseed oil) is the one used for woodworking purposes. Linseed oil will polymerize on its own, but it can take weeks. Boiling the oil thickens it and accelerates the polymerization process. That said, every commercial BLO I've researched DOES NOT boil the linseed oil any more, but adds heavy metal driers to it (cobalt for one). I might use it to finish a tabletop, but not for a cutting board that will see constant food contact.
    – JoeFish
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 17:38
  • Flaxseed is edible, linseed isn't, they are not the same livestrong.com/article/…
    – Wernight
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 20:49

Mix 3 parts coconut oil with one part beeswax and melt together - that's it.

The beeswax 'hardens' the coconut oil and gives a better, more water-resistant finish.

Wipe it on, leave it half an hour, wipe it off.

Good for your hands, too ;)


The best solution to use is a mix of mineral oil and a bit of beeswax or paraffin wax. You can melt the wax into the oil in the microwave and then wipe your board down. This solution will protect is quite well and is recommended by many board makers. If you need a couple different options or directions on how to apply the oil head to End Grain Cutting Board


Go to Walgreen get Intestinal Lubricant Mineral Oil, this is food safe, it is the same stuff I believe sold in small bottles for $7-8 bucks for cutting boards, bamboo, etc, with a fancy name. You will get a lot more for less money at Walgreen as an intestinal lub.

Yeah, it is a laxative.

For seasoning cast iron. http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/137622/the-ultimate-way-to-season-cast-iron-flaxseed-oil

Make sure whatever you use is food safe for humans, read the label. Boiled linseed oil is not food safe, poisonous, and shouldn't be used.


I just got a local artisan here to build me a butcher block. While installing it, I asked him what he recommended for maintaining butcher blocks. In addition to mineral oil, and food-safe waxes, he is trying to bring in a product called (http://www.kerfs.com/store.htm). He has tried it on his own boards, and loves it a lot more. He finds that mineral oil "evaporates" too quickly. He's tried all different types, and that's his favourite product.

  • Hmmm… three products there… which one(s) is it? Also they don't say what's in it, just a 'blend' plus some waxes or not... Commented May 16, 2013 at 3:30
  • Oh, when I first linked there there weren't three products. I think it was the Lemon Luster.
    – talon8
    Commented May 16, 2013 at 4:29

I've had good results just cleaning them soon after use and maintaining them in a dry area - don't put them in the dishwasher or leave them submerged in the sink for long periods.


Try 100% tung oil. Tung Oil is an all natural finish providing a tough, flexible and highly water-resistant coating. The oil comes from the cold pressing of the seeds or nuts of the Tung tree. The food-safe oil brings out the natural colors and grains of all the woods we use in our products. :)

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    Warning: people with nut allergies may have reactions to tung oil, so it may not be a good idea for everyone to use this.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 3:07
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    also, just to stress the 100% pure tung oil part - most stuff you'll find at big box stores will be "tung oil" which can be a generic name for a product containg varnishes, loads of other stuff, some amount of oil (and sometimes just about no tung oil at all) Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 11:49

Knife manufacturer Lamson & Goodnow makes TreeSpirit brand Bee's Oil - a blend of beeswax and mineral oil designed to condition cutting boards and other wooden kitchen tools. It's easier to apply than either pure mineral oil or pure beeswax, as the two blended together has more of a paste-like consistency which can be wiped onto the cutting board with a clean rag.


There are a lot of finishes out there designed for cutting boards, butcher blocks and salad bowls. I am an avid woodworker myself and am always looking for the next best thing. I have tried everything from the mystery oil, howards, mahoneys, linseed oil and even just plain mineral oil. The best stuff that I have found so far is CLARK'S Cutting Board Finish. I found it on Amazon: and I think there is also another website that sells it called Culinary Woodcraft. The reason why I like this stuff is because it uses mineral oil as a base, which is non toxic and it doesn't darken the wood. Then it also has beeswax, and carnauba wax. But the part that I like best about it is the orange oil and lemon oil. This not only helps fight off some of the bacteria but it leaves your pieces smelling fantastic. I'm glad I found this stuff, I have been using it on everything I have. I recommend it to anyone looking for the best Food-Safe wood finish!


What about shellac for a cutting board finish

  • Shellac turns white if you let water sit on it. It penetrates wood less than oil does, so your knife will cut through it, creating cracks that will absorb water into the wood below. Also it inhibits oil from being absorbed into the wood. Commented Apr 12, 2021 at 12:27

I picked up a bottle of this at Crate & Barrel when I first bought a decent cutting board and have only been using it since. So I have no basis for comparison, but I can say it's done a good job of keeping the board looking good.

  • "Contains refined seed oil" - sounds like it might be linseed?
    – Cascabel
    Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 5:51
  • Yeah, I thought it might too. I thought perhaps the other components to it might be interesting.
    – josh
    Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 13:45

I like Watco cutting board oil and finish or simple mineral oil from the pharmacy. The Watco seems to seal the boards better and really makes them maintance free for a long time before needing oiled. Just my experience.


Mineral oil! Light soap and water after use. Let it dry and oil as needed depending on use. I've made a hundred boards as gifts and love to visit friends that still have them in their kitchens.


Coconut oil works great, doesn't go rancid.

  • 4
    How is it that an oil/fat never goes rancid? Can you post some links to support this?
    – J.A.I.L.
    Commented Nov 11, 2012 at 20:01
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    It's not accurate to say that coconut oil "never" goes rancid, but due to its high saturated fat content, it is highly stable compared to other vegetable oils, resistant to oxidation and can last two years without going rancid.
    – Scott C
    Commented Dec 16, 2012 at 20:42
  • Some coconut oils may perhaps be less likely to become rancid: "A select group of coconut oils are refined using a refractionation process, which is a fancy way of staying that the oils have been steam distilled. During this distillation process, coconut oil is separated so that the long-chain triglycerides (LCT) are removed and only the medium chain triglycerides (MCT) are left. This leaves an almost pure oil that will NOT go rancid" see Coconut Oil (Refractionated) section. Commented Dec 25, 2017 at 23:17

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