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I recently bought a Hevea chopping board which the manufacturer had annoyingly engraved their logo into, creating a small trap for food particles. It was pretty cheap so I figured I'd keep it and just sand down the logo.

It seems that in doing this I've opened some pores in the surface, which I'm concerned might be able to hide food contaminants. I was wondering if there is a way to close these pores? Did I simply take off the finishing, and what is a food safe way to finish a chopping board?

  • I wouldn't worry about the pores, if you think about any well-used cutting board and how it will be covered in knife scars with their potential to harbour bacteria, it's just not a big deal. The main thing is that wood is a good anti-microbial material, which accounts for how we've gotten away with wooden cutting boards, kitchen tables and salvers for many centuries without people getting sick all the time. – Graphus Sep 5 '18 at 13:06
  • "and what is a food safe way to finish a chopping board?" this is a can of worms that is debated endlessly, search on woodworking forums and cooking forums if you want to read some epic arguments! Long-grain boards don't need finish of any kind, end-grain boards might benefit from it. It generally comes down to a choice between oil and wax. Wax would be my preference but everyone decides differently. – Graphus Sep 5 '18 at 13:11
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It seems that in doing this I've opened some pores in the surface, which I'm concerned might be able to hide food contaminants.

If you're thinking of bacteria, it's probably not as great a concern as you might think. There's reason to believe that wooden cutting boards are as safe or safer than plastic cutting boards, and that the porosity of wood is actually an advantage.

Also, while your cutting board probably looked perfectly smooth when you got it home, it's very reason for existing is to meet the sharp edge of a knife. If sanding opened up some pores in the surface, then repeated cutting with a sharp knife would surely do so too.

I was wondering if there is a way to close these pores?

The usual thing to do is to oil the board using a food-grade oil that won't turn rancid. Mineral oil is a common choice: it works well, and it's cheap and readily available. Some people like to use beeswax along with the mineral oil. None of this will actually close all the pores, although it may fill them to some degree. Oil or oil and wax will help to condition and protect the board, especially when you wash it in warm soapy water. Re-apply the oil from time to time.

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  • Re. the last point, if it's felt to be desirable you can fill the pores (and actually the internal structure of the wood to quite a depth) with wax by applying it molten. As with epoxy, pre-warming the wood can help a lot with deeper penetration. – Graphus Sep 5 '18 at 20:26

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