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I appreciate business owners who are willing to share the details of their manufacturing processes with me and even welcome my input. This is exactly what I got from my conversation with the founder of the Treeboard company, whose one-piece cutting board I own. In this post, you will find out why I consider Treeboard solid wood cutting boards safe and what makes me like them so much. You will also learn why I don’t use plastic, Epicurean, and bamboo cutting boards, what my top picks among cutting boards are, and what I think about the OXO Good Grips Utility cutting board as well as Brooklyn Butcher Blocks End Grain cutting boards.
Why Solid Wood Cutting Boards?
In the past decade, my kitchen has seen quite a few cutting boards. I describe my research into cutting board materials in my comprehensive Guide to Safe Cutting Boards.
In a nutshell, I believe the best material for a cutting board is solid wood. In an ideal world, it should be a solid piece of wood with a non-toxic finish.
Thus, I avoid using the following cutting boards:
- boards made of pieces of wood glued together, and
- boards finished with mineral oil.
Note that I don’t mind cutting boards made of glass. Just beware that a glass board surface area can dull your chef’s knife easily.
Plastic Material For Cutting Boards
In my opinion, plastic cutting boards are not safe for several reasons.
First, plastic is made from crude oil and natural gas and needs many chemical additives for the right texture, color, clarity, durability, and flexibility. None of those chemicals are good for your health. In addition, you can ingest harmful particles of plastic together with the food that you cut on the board.
Second, plastic boards may contain triclosan, an antimicrobial ingredient that can stick to the food and get inside your digestive system. This animal study showed a correlation between exposure to high doses of triclosan and a decrease in the levels of some thyroid hormones.
Third, plastic allows for deep cuts, which, together with moisture, are the perfect environment for bacteria growth.
This is why I am not a fan of OXO Good Grips Utility cutting board, which is made of plastic. Even though it may be dishwasher safe, I don’t believe that plastic is a safe material for a cutting board. To learn more about potential concerns of plastic, including BPA-free plastic, read my post Are Plastic Water Bottles Safe?.
Epicurean Cutting Boards Are Paper Boards
To clarify, rather than being solid wood cutting boards, Epicurean boards are layers of paper stuck together with resin that bonds the layers of paper together under pressure and heat.
Although we own an Epicurean cutting board, we do not use it any longer due to a great number of scratches that can serve as a good environment for bacteria growth.
Bamboo Cutting Boards Are Grass Boards
As for bamboo, it is not wood at all. It is grass turned into thin strips and joined with glue. My concerns are the glue, the finish, and the fact that there is no way to know for sure if the bamboo is organically grown.
On the other hand, I admit that bamboo is the least expensive alternative and an easily renewable resource because it grows quickly. If you would like to try a bamboo cutting board, you can find a safer option in my Guide to Safe Cutting Boards.
Multi-Piece Wood Cutting Boards Use Glue
The absence of glue is the main reason I consider one-piece cutting boards potentially the safest natural cutting boards. Indeed, conventional wooden cutting boards are actually thin strips of wood glued together.
Often, manufacturers either do not know what glue they are using or do not want to talk about it. However, glue may contain toxic chemicals, including formaldehyde, that you do not want to end up in your food. Since solid wood cutting boards do not have this problem, they bring you one step closer to a healthier choice.
Plus, with a solid piece of wood, there is no risk that your cutting board will fall apart. It will last forever and may even become a family heirloom. In contrast, my husband once put a glued-together cutting board in the dishwasher (which, he emphasizes, was “a long time ago” when he was “just starting out”) and after the wash cycle, he had twenty pieces of kindling!
Mineral Oil Wood Surface Finish Is Petroleum-Based
So far, I have mostly seen two types of wood surface finish: mineral oil and a blend of undisclosed ingredients. Often, the companies do not know what oil blend they use to finish their board’s surface area, because they source it elsewhere. Personally, I don’t feel comfortable when I don’t know what it is exactly that touches my food.
Therefore, I’m glad to tell you that there exists a mineral-oil-free cutting board that is safe and affordable for home cooks.
Five Reasons Treeboard Solid Wood Cutting Boards Are My Top Picks
To begin, it’s not that easy to find a one-piece cutting board. You may have heard about Urthware products that checked all the boxes: solid wood, safe finish, and sustainably harvested timber. However, this Canadian company went out of business, and I had to find another non-toxic option for home cooks.
A pleasant phone chat with Will, the founder of Treeboard (located in Maryland), unveiled that he has enjoyed woodworking since childhood. From his father, Will learned such basic carpentry skills as cutting lumber and firewood with an ax and a saw. Once, he cut up a fallen oak tree near his home and discovered that he could make beautiful solid wood cutting boards.
I especially appreciate the fact that Will answered all my questions and sent me his one-piece cutting board for testing. When I saw it, I thought of it as a wood masterpiece!
Here are five reasons Treeboard cutting boards are my top picks:
- Treeboard takes the forest seriously.
- The boards are made of solid hard types of woods.
- They are smooth, thick, and sturdy.
- For the surface area, Treeboard uses a non-toxic finish.
- Treeboard solid wood cutting boards are affordable.
Treeboard Takes The Forest Seriously.
Fascinatingly, for their solid wood cutting boards, Treeboard looks for sustainable lumber locally. Thus, they usually use naturally fallen trees, or those trimmed out of necessity, or trees cleared from new home sites. In other words, your one-piece cutting board will be made of lumber that has the least impact on the environment. In fact, the wood that Treeboard sources is certified sustainable by the Appalachian Hardwoods Manufactures Inc. (AHMI).
Additionally, I respect the company’s desire to give back to the forests that sustain their business. Specifically, they ordered 100 hardwood trees from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and have planted them around the community. On top of that, they plant a tree for every single order they receive. It tells me that they take the environment and the beautiful natural resource, the forest, very seriously.
Treeboard Uses Solid Hard Types Of Woods.
Will, the founder of Treeboard, does everything possible to reduce your exposure to questionable chemicals. Thus, he makes his safe cutting boards of one block of wood, which eliminates the need for glue.
Further, Will makes sure that his wood suppliers do not use any chemicals in the wood preparation process. To clarify, the addition of chemicals prevents or kills mold or changes the color of the wood. But Will is confident that the mill he works with does not use any chemicals. Instead, they dry the timber well to prevent mold and preserve the color of the wood as is.
Hard types of woods, like maple and white oak, are less prone to deep cuts, which makes them less likely to have bacteria contamination. Plus, they are attractive and have great wear resistance. A softer type of wood, cherry, is not good for heavy chopping but is perfect for serving food like cheese, charcuterie or appetizers. The Treeboard cherry serving board looks gorgeous, too!
Treeboard Cutting Boards Are Smooth, Thick, And Sturdy.
From the very first glance at the Treeboard products, you can tell that the maker truly cares about his craft.
First, the boards are impeccably smooth. After cutting the lumber to size, Will rounds the edges, sands the boards, and adds a natural non-toxic finish.
Second, the thickness of all the board sizes – small, medium, and large – is over one inch. This is a very generous thickness, which brings me to their third feature – sturdiness. Indeed, the more than one-inch thickness of the boards makes them very sturdy.
Plus, the “large” size of the boards (on average 23”x12”) is really huge and makes it comfortable to work with multiple vegetables at a time.
In addition, all the Treeboard one-piece cutting boards have the option of adding silicone rubber feet to keep them from sliding on the countertop. By the way, for this purpose, silicone is the best material, as it produces no VOCs or latex allergies. They even carry extra rubber feet in case you need to replace yours.
In short, there is precision and thoughtfulness in every detail of the Treeboard solid wood cutting boards.
For The Surface Area, Treeboard uses A Non-Toxic Finish.
Of course, I wanted to make sure that the finish on the Treeboard products was non-toxic. Turns out, Will uses organic linseed oil and their signature Board Balm made of pure organic carnauba wax and organic linseed oil, melted together into a thick paste. (Actually, a smaller version of the balm comes complimentary with most purchases.)
The linseed oil, also known as “flaxseed oil,” is a cold-pressed food-grade product. As for carnauba wax, it is made from a type of palm and is also a food-grade product that the USDA National Organic Program allows for use in organic food.
You can buy both the Board Balm and linseed oil separately when needed. Interestingly, Treeboard says that because they are free of harmful chemicals, you can also use them as skin moisturizers or as beauty aids to calm frizzy hair.
To use on wooden kitchen products: with fingertips or a clean rag, apply a small amount to the wooden surface area. The change of color will help you ensure you cover all areas. Leave the oil/balm for half an hour to penetrate the wood and then buff the surface to remove any excess and increase the shine.
Regular oil and/or balm application adds water resistance to the product and maintains its finish. Plus, the added shine will make it look amazing!
Treeboard Solid Wood Cutting Boards Are Affordable.
Naturally, the question of affordability is rather relative. It has a lot to do with both comparison of the product with other products of the kind as well as its worth and value.
To me, the fact that my one-piece wood cutting board has no glue and has toxic-free oil for the surface area finish makes it well worth it. In addition to being healthy, it is thick, sturdy, comfortable, and plainly gorgeous. It will last forever and with the right maintenance has the potential to turn into a family heirloom. This makes it valuable.
Let’s talk prices at the time of publishing this post.
|Treeboard Solid Wood Cutting Board
(no silicone feet)
(silicone feet added)
|Small white oak board
|Small maple cutting board
|Medium oak cutting board
|Medium maple cutting board
|Large hard maple cutting board
|2 feet x11”
|Large white oak cutting board
|Large cherry serving board
23 ¼”x12 ¼”
If you opt for “no silicone feet,” you will have an edge grain reversible cutting board.
Brooklyn Butcher Blocks End Grain Cutting Boards
For your information and for the sake of comparison, the Brooklyn Butcher Blocks are NOT made of solid wood. Yes, I contacted the company and they confirmed that. In other words, they are made of strips of wood glued together.
If you are thinking of buying their products, I believe it is a good idea to contact them first and ask about the ingredients of their glue and the surface area finish (according to their website, it is mineral oil, but it is always good to confirm).
Also, please know that their prices are quite higher than those by Treeboard. For instance, consider the following Brooklyn Butcher Blocks End Grain cutting boards’ prices at the time of publishing this post:
- End Grain Walnut Butcher Block (12x18x1.75): $250 plus extra for juice groove* and handles.
- End Grain Cherry Butcher Block (16x20x1.75): $360 plus extra for juice groove* and handles.
- End Grain Walnut Butcher Block (18x24x1.75): $600 plus extra for juice groove* and handles.
*A juice groove is typical of a carving board. The difference between a cutting board and a carving board is that the former is generally intended for chopping and the latter – for slicing and includes a juice groove as a drain for the juices.
Speaking of the Brooklyn Butcher Blocks End Grain cutting boards’ prices, I have to say, they are quite daring given these boards are NOT made of solid wood, i.e., they use glue. Plus, they use mineral oil for their surface area finish.
How To Clean Your Wood Cutting Board
It is not a good idea to wash your solid wood cutting board in the dishwasher. Yet, I always recommend asking the manufacturer if their product is dishwasher safe. As for me, depending on what I use it for, I just wipe off my board with a damp cloth or wash it with non-toxic dish soap by Branch Basics (READ15 for 15% off starter kits) and dry it well with a kitchen towel.
To sanitize, official sources, including restaurant policies, advise to make a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach in one gallon of water. Then, soak the board in the solution for a few minutes and rinse well with warm water.
On the other hand, the holistic community does not fancy chlorine. That is why some sanitizing methods suggested by the Internet involve vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. As for me, I am not sure whether they are indeed effective; therefore, I use a glass board for raw meat and fish.
If you handle raw meat on a glass board, I believe washing it in hot water with non-toxic dish soap (e.g., by Branch Basics) is enough. Just remember that glass can dull your chef’s knife. That’s why my top picks are solid wood cutting boards, namely those by Treeboard.
Conclusion About The Best Solid Wood Cutting Boards
I Believe The Best Cutting Board Is One Made Of A Solid Block Of Wood And Finished With Non-Toxic Food-Grade Balm Or Oil.
In sum, when it comes to safety, I recommend a one-piece cutting board free of mineral oil. Personally, I don’t use plastic, bamboo, and Epicurean chopping boards. Alternatively, I use a Treeboard non-toxic cutting board available for purchase on the company’s website.
First, it has no glue or mineral oil. Second, it is thick, sturdy, not slippery, and is made of sustainable solid wood. Above all, it will potentially last you forever and can become an heirloom piece. This makes it valuable and affordable.
Browse the I Read Labels For You blog for the latest reviews and visit our shop for more options of non-toxic household and body products. If you need help choosing a safe product, book a consultation with me, and I will happily assist you.
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