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How to Make a Butcher Block Countertop Food Safe

Butcher block hardwood countertops are a great choice for kitchens. Wood is naturally resistant to bacteria and looks rich and sturdy in any cooking space.

One of the great advantages of butcher blocks is their functionality. You can cut your food right on these counters without dulling your knife! While many people choose to treat their wood countertops like any other kitchen surface and avoid placing food directly on them, you can use a dedicated section of your butcher’s block for food prep if you’re careful about how you seal it.

Preparing Your Butcher Block

Unlike the butcher blocks of yesteryear, today we understand that there are a few extra steps necessary to make a wooden countertop truly food safe. Really, it’s all in the sealant. While many finishes may look gorgeous on your new wooden counter, they might not be food safe. Remember, if you plan to use your butcher block for food prep, then anything you seal it with will potentially contaminate your food.

There are several food safe lacquers and finishes you can choose from, including:

  • Tung oil
  • Mineral oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Beeswax
  • Shellac
  • Carnauba wax
  • Linseed oil

We recommend mineral oil for treating your countertop. Mineral oil will both protect your countertop from water damage and also won’t add any unwanted flavors, scents or toxins to your food.

Need more information on products? Check out Home Depot Food Safe Finishes & Oil Recommendations

Drying vs. Non-Drying Oils

Unlike nut oils like linseed and walnut, mineral oil is a non-drying oil, so it won’t become solid after exposure to oxygen. What this means is that you will have to reapply the mineral oil more frequently than you would a non-drying oil. While tung or linseed oil needs reapplied only once or twice a year, mineral oil will require reapplication slightly more often, depending on how much you use your countertop.

Hardwood Reflections Butcher Block Mineral Oil

Applying Mineral Oil

Mineral oil is pretty simple to use. Pour an excess of oil onto the butcher block and let it soak into every corner of the wood. Then let it sit and wipe off the excess. While your countertop is brand new, this will need to be redone frequently, but a broken-in butcher block needs new mineral oil only every month or so.

Even the toughest of wood countertops may begin to show wear over time. Fortunately, this is an issue that can be safely resolved with a quick sanding and resealing. A butcher’s block is definitely a bit more work than your average counter, but it’s a price worth paying for the gorgeous natural look and durability these countertops bring.

Curious about what a butcher block might look like in your kitchen?
Hint: It’s going to look awesome.

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Gel Stains for Butcher Block Customization

With six colors to choose from you can easily customize your Butcher Block Countertop with your favorite stain color. Hardwood Reflections Gel Stains are designed specifically for butcher block or other interior wood products that require a very high-end finish for an area of heavy use.


Build an Acacia LIVE EDGE Butcher Block Kitchen Island

Learn how to add a unique look to your kitchen countertop or island with Hardwood Reflections Acacia LIVE EDGE Butcher Block. Live Edge means the characteristics of the outside of the tree are on the edge of the butcher block and will go in and out up to a half of an inch. In this video, you will learn how to turn our Acacia Island Top Butcher Block into a DIY table by utilizing pre-drilled holes for legs, and finish with mineral oil to make a food safe DIY Table Top. These also work great in the kitchen and can be made into beautiful Food Safe Grade Butcher Block Counter Tops!


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