After chopping away at a chilli earlier today (well, 10 minutes ago) I then went through my normal ritual of scrubbing my hands to remove what traces the chiles leave on my fingers.

And it made me wonder - is whatever is difficult to get off my finger having any long-term effect on my wooden chopping board?

I clean/scrub the board regularly, and there is no visible staining, but we all know hidden problems exist..

  • PS - wasn't sure if I should create a "chilli-pepper" tag, or use "chilli" on it's own (or with "peppers"). So please re-tag as is necessary.
    – DMA57361
    Aug 17, 2010 at 18:04
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    It looks like there's some disagreement about chili/chilli/chile in the tags already used - I'm pretty sure that chili is the most common. Maybe that's one of those things that ought to get treated as synonyms.
    – Cascabel
    Aug 17, 2010 at 18:07
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    @Jefromi In my experience, chile refers to the pepper, while chili is the dish (the brown gloppy stuff from Texas). At least that is the common usage in New Mexico.
    – KeithB
    Aug 17, 2010 at 19:10
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    @KeithB: I've seen that convention too, and I like it, but I've also seen chili used an awful lot for the peppers - including in dictionaries, before any dish definition. Google surveys seem to agree, with "chili pepper/powder" having far more hits than "chile pepper/powder". Wikipedia says "Chili pepper (from Nahuatl chilli, chilli pepper, chilli, chillie, chili, and chile)". Obviously the one certainty is that there's variety, but chili does seem like a good de facto standard to pick.
    – Cascabel
    Aug 17, 2010 at 19:59
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2 Answers 2


Pretty much everything I've read (for example, this page) says not to use wood, because the oils from the peppers will penetrate the board and transfer, and hold there indefinitely, even after thorough washings.

This thread is full of people with personal experience transferring the heat to later meals.

That said, as with Jefromi, I've cut hot peppers on wood before and not noticed any transfer. Specifically, home grown habaneros and jalapenos on maple boards.

Maybe I'm just acclimated to the heat and don't notice, but those recommendations are not in line with my personal experience. I do thoroughly scrub my boards after use, but that probably isn't washing away any residual oils.

If you really want to be safe, for example if someone in your house is heat sensitive or you have small children helping in the kitchen, you can dedicate a board to cutting peppers, or just cut peppers on a small plastic board and wash thoroughly after each use.

  • I sometimes notice a limited transfer, especially after working very hot chillies like habaneros. It doesn't last long. But then, I too, am accustomed to the spice... Aug 17, 2010 at 19:40
  • My anecdotal evidence (spicy raw mango after cutting it on a board commonly used for birds eye and habanero chiles...) confirms it :) Oct 19, 2017 at 19:16

I chop pretty much everything on a bamboo cutting board, including chipotles en adobo all the time, and plenty of fresh peppers frequently. Admittedly I'm Texan and a bit acclimated to these things, but I've never noticed any residual heat in the board. And really, though my tongue may be used to it, I don't think my eyes are - and if the board were hot, I'd have managed to find out the hard way by now.

  • Good point about the eyes, I have also not learned the hard way, so our experience seems to at least be in line with each others', if not in line with the rest of the internet - awesome :) Aug 17, 2010 at 18:36
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    Bamboo expresses oil of it's own (one of the big advantages of it in many applications) and may be more resistant because of that. Aug 17, 2010 at 19:38
  • @dmckee: Ah, good point. Though stephennmcdonald's boards are maple.
    – Cascabel
    Aug 17, 2010 at 19:55
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    Yeah, I'm sure it depends a lot on how porous the wood surface is and whether it has been sealed with something like mineral oil, which polymerizes. Aug 17, 2010 at 22:48

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