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I use mineral oil when I make cutting boards because it makes it pop. But I have not been finding any. Would baby oil be a good or decent replacement? Is there any other oils that would work, maybe even better than mineral oil?

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    For what it's worth, I find my mineral oil at my drugstore or at a general store such as Walmart in the pharmacy section. – Maxime Morin Jul 9 '16 at 0:28
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    I buy mine in IKEA. If there's a store nearby, look for the SKYDD wood oil. – PeterK Jul 9 '16 at 4:29
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    Do you want your cutting board to smell like a baby? Don't baby it. Someday that cutting board has to grow up and act like a man. – Treow Wyrhta Jul 9 '16 at 9:35
  • @Treow Wyrhta that is funny, good laugh thank you. I have found mineral oil. And now somebody told me to take course sandpaper (60) and scratch it up so the mineral oil soaks in. Is this really necessary? – Ljk2000 Jul 9 '16 at 13:32
  • @Ljk2000 I've never had to do that on my end-grain boards and the oil goes through in less than a day. (1½ inch board) – Maxime Morin Jul 9 '16 at 14:17
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Baby oil is just mineral oil with fragrance added - so you're not going to kill anyone, but there may be a smell..

I normally use Olive Oil on cutting boards.

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    Probably.. Any oil that you'd be happy to eat is, I think, fine for the boards. – PeteCon Jul 9 '16 at 1:02
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    Olive oil will go rancid over time. Same with vegetable oils. – Steven Jul 9 '16 at 12:36
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    Agree that olive oil could be problematic. FWW article about food safe finishes: finewoodworking.com/how-to/article/food-safe-finishes.aspx (Summary: pure tung oil, raw linseed oil, mineral oil, walnut oil, beeswax, carnauba wax, and shellac are top of the list.) – Aloysius Defenestrate Jul 9 '16 at 14:46
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    @Steven. The conventional wisdom that vegetable oils will go rancid over time once applied to wood is largely unfounded. The warnings not to use them are repeated on woodworking forums a lot but usually it is from people repeating the warnings they've read without any personal experience. If you hang out on food forums a lot you'll read many posts from people whose families have always used vegetable oils for their boards (and salad bowls, tongs etc.) without it being a problem. I come from such a family and I can confirm it is usually not an issue. – Graphus Jul 10 '16 at 17:49
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    I can't give an authoritative answer, because this is based on a sample size of two cutting boards.. I had two cherrywood chopping boards in the UK; always used vegetable oil on them, for over 15 years. No problems. I moved to the US, and left the boards in storage for 8 years. When I pulled them out of storage, they had gone rancid, so I binned them. So I think they need to be maintained (semi) regularly. – PeteCon Jul 11 '16 at 17:38
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You should be able to find food quality mineral oil online fairly easily in most locations.

Baby oil is probably okay, but I would shy away from the scented stuff. (Should be able to get unscented baby oil).

Mineral Oil is also typically available from pharmacies/chemists where it will probably be called paraffin oil.

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If you can't find online, or at a chemist, you can (I have been told with nothing to back this up), buy bulk quantities of mineral oil from farming supplies stores, where it is sold as a laxative. If I was going down this path I'd make sure there was MSDS available to verify it was 100% mineral oil with no additives.

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  • Depends what country you are in, what it will be called at the pharmacy. If your pharmacy is a chemist, the odds of it being paraffin oil are higher. – Ecnerwal Mar 17 '17 at 4:05
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I probably wouldn't use baby oil. It's filled with other ingredients that's may not age well, or mix well with cooking foods. If you can find a pharmacy they'll be bound to have both oils.

I for one am a monster that slices onions on a woodcutting board, but I'm not such a crazed individual that I want my onions to taste like babies.

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  • If you are going to serve babies, it's best to season them with shallots anyway. – jdv Aug 13 at 14:15
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I use baby oil that can be purchased at dollar stores to treat cutting boards. No scent whatsoever. If it is made for babies, you know it is safe, since babies put their mouth on everything.

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If you’re looking for alternatives, you might find suitable ones in the cookware sections of shops.

I wouldn’t use baby oil as it’s not intended to sit on a wooden surface for a long time, so might not last as well.

I’ve got a light wax with a pleasant orange scent (doesn’t taint food!) which is intended for chopping boards and wooden surfaces. I found it in the kitchenware section of a department store. It’s called “town talk wooden surface wax”, and - if you happen to be in the U.K. - I found it in John Lewis.

I’ve also got some “Catskills butchers block oil” which describes itself as a “pure mixture of mineral oils and vitamin E”, again intended for kitchen use and food safe. Again, came from a kitchenware shop.

I use them on anything which comes into contact with food or small children, though I prefer the wax, I find it easier to use and a nicer smell.

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Over the years, my family has used a lot of oils on butcher blocks on bbq trailers and prep tables. We only use "food grade" mineral oil. There are no additives whatsoever, as with regular mineral oil and baby oil. It's clean, filtered, scent-free and resists bacteria. We use it on wood and metal surfaces, including knives and cleavers. Plus, it's only about $17/gallon on Amazon. That works out much cheaper than small bottles of "cutting board oil", which is the same oil. Just don't use cooking oils or olive oil. They turn bad in the wood, smell bad and start bacteria growth. Wipe the board with plenty of oil and let sit overnight to soak in and always do BOTH sides of the board (very important). Oiling top only can cause warping. Many wipe the oil on boards with their clean bare hand. No waste and it's great for the skin.

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  • Hi Randy, welcome to StackExchange. Your Answer here needs some citations to read as more than an extended anecdote, e.g. what additives are there in "regular mineral oil"? As for "cooking oils or olive oil.... turn bad in the wood" please see the extended discussion in the Comments under one of the previous Answers (q.v. similar debates in many woodworking fora). Many, many people have used food oils for oiling wooden implements, bowls and boards without issue. Not just for years, but for decades in some cases — someone I spoke to online had a 50-yr-old bowl oiled with olive oil regularly. – Graphus Aug 12 at 8:05
  • And there's a secondary issue that tends to get overlooked or glossed over in these debates, and that's about the need to oil (or do something else, e.g. using 'board butter') in the first place. Commercially true butcher block is never oiled, and from what I've seen and read long-grain boards and food-prep surfaces are nearly always left bare once in service. So there is plenty of anecdotal information (with modern research to back it up and suggest a mechanism) that tells us that wooden surfaces don't need to be treated to remain sanitary, as long as they are cleaned regularly of course. – Graphus Aug 12 at 8:13

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