2-Ingredient DIY Butcher Block & Cutting Board Oil Conditioner
We LOVE this DIY butcher block countertop & cutting board oil finish! After testing many recipes, we have finally found the magical blend of mineral oil and beeswax mix that is so easy to use, and creates such a beautiful result!
This all natural wood conditioner is food safe and great for rejuvenating and maintaining of indoor butcher block countertops, wood cutting boards, salad bowls, wooden toys, utensils, etc.
There are many great butcher block countertop & cutting board oil conditioners you can buy, but making your own is really fun and easy! This batch will easily last us a whole year for all the maple butcher block countertops in our new IKEA kitchen remodel, and at 1/10 of the cost for similar commercial products. Let’s make some!
What is cutting board oil? What does cutting board conditioner and butcher block oil do?
Most “cutting board oil” is basically food safe mineral oil. To make it more effective, beeswax and /or carnauba wax is added to make some of the best all natural non-toxic wood conditioners. Carnauba wax is harder than beeswax, learn more about it here.
* Some resources in article are affiliate links. Full disclosure here .
The penetrating mineral oil along with the water-resistant beeswax or carnauba wax can rejuvenate the wood, prevent drying and cracking, help repair knife marks and protect the wood by keeping the mineral oil in and the moisture out.
How to make all natural non-toxic butcher block countertop & cutting board oil finish:
After trying different oil and wax wood finishes that we purchased and made from various DIY recipes, we found that a very soft paste consistency gives the best results. Most recipes we found produce a hard wax finish, which tend to stay on the surface instead of being absorbed into the wood. This sticky surface is also very hard to clean.
Here’s the butcher block oil recipe we came up with that is working great for us.
Materials and tools to make all natural non-toxic butcher block countertop & cutting board oil conditioner
- food safe mineral oil
- beeswax, optional: carnauba wax.
- clear measuring cup, double boiler or a pot with a steamer rack to prevent glass breaking, metal or glass jars with lid. IMPORTANT: please be VERY careful when working with glass, wax, and hot water, always follow basic safety practices!
Step 1: measure ingredients
We are taking out the confusion of cups vs ml vs oz. Everything is measured by volume here! We used a 500 ml measuring cup. The goal is to get a 1:8 ratio of wax to oil in volumn.
Pour 400 ml of food safe mineral oil into the cup, add chopped wax or pellet wax slowly until the oil and wax mixture reaches 500 ml. You can use 100% beeswax, or 50% beeswax and 50% carnauba wax. We like to use at least 1/3 carnauba wax .
Now we have wax to oil a ratio of 1:4. Pour the mixture into a jar, add 400 ml more mineral oil only to get a 1:8 ratio of wax to oil.
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Step 2: transfer mixture into melting jar or pot, and set up water bath.
IMPORTANT: do NOT place this mixture directly on the heat! Beeswax melts at a temperature of about 146 F, which is well below the boiling point of water. Use a double boiler or set up a water bath like below.
We used mason jar lids as little racks to lift the jar up from the bottom of the pot. Fill the pot with water. Make sure the water is about half way below the rim of the jars. Place the jars in the water bath.
You can also use a metal container to melt the wax oil mixture, and pour the mixture into a glass jar when all the ingredients are incorporated.
Step 3: melt the beeswax and mineral oil mixture
As the water heats, the ingredients will start to melt in each jar. Stir gently with a chopstick or spoon. In just a few minutes the wax will melt and the mixture will become transparent. When all ingredients are completely melted, turn off the heat and take the jars out of the pot.
IMPORTANT: Always be careful about fire hazard.
Anytime we work with flammable materials such as wax and oil, we should be extra careful. Use a deeper pot to prevent the mixture from spilling over, or use things like double boiler or steamer. Wear gloves when moving the hot oil and wax mixture, don’t touch the mixture with bare hands until it has completely cooled off. The mixture will be opaque after it cools.
How to use cutting board and butcher block oil
If you have a brand new unseasoned cutting board or butcher block countertop like ours, don’t use this oil wax conditioner yet.
First season the wood surface generously with food safe mineral oil . I just use my hand to push the puddles of oil evenly on the butcher block surface, allow it to soak in overnight, and repeat the process 3-5 times. Then start using the oil and wax conditioner.
This butcher block oil and wax conditioner is really simple to use. Since it is also a great hand lotion, I use my hand to spread it evenly over the wood, again let it soak in overnight or longer, then wipe off the excess with rag or paper towel.
The longer you can let everything sit and absorb the better, which is why we like to oil our butcher block countertop right before we go on a trip!
You only need to do this once a month, or when the wood feels dry. Used regularly, this oil and wax wood conditioner will create a beautiful satin sheen finish with the natural waxes adding extra water resistant surface protection.
Where to buy cutting board oil and butcher block conditioners?
Some of you may rather just buy a natural wood conditioner than go through the trouble of making one, there are also some great choices on Amazon.
Both the Howard butcher block conditioner and the John Boos Block Board cream are great options with the same ingredients we are using in this DIY.
We have also used Howard SunShield Outdoor Furniture Wax with UV Protection on our outdoor wood furniture and love it.
FAQ about DIY butcher block and cutting board oil
Can I use olive oil?
Mineral oil is colorless and odorless. It has no expiration date, and will never go rancid like some plant based oils. We have used this DIY olive oil and beeswax finish on smaller objects such as our vintage inspired pallet crates, and never noticed any sign of oil going rancid.
But for such a large kitchen countertop, we don’t want it to be soaked in vegetable oils and risk anything going rancid long term. We decided to stick with mineral oil and bees wax finish, which we are using more often on smaller projects as well!
Will butcher block oil spoil?
Mineral oil , beeswax and carnauba wax. are all without expiration dates, aka very shelf stable, so is our butcher block oil conditioner made fro these ingredients
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Happy creating! 🙂
As a woodworker of 40 years I’d like to share some advice. The oil and wax mixture you used makes a nice finish for a cutting board, but isn’t up to the challenges of a kitchen countertop. For a proper oil and wax finish you need a product like Rubio Monocoat.
thank you so much Tom for sharing the tip! i have been wanting to try Rubio Monocoat. will look into it! 🙂
Rubio Monocoat 2C is amazing, quick to use and perfect for kitchen counters – just did all ours and our island, we have walnut butcher block. It’s beautiful – the 2C is an accelerator, and then you can use the regular Rubio Monocoat without the accelerator to maintain.
thank you Tab for sharing your experience! i will try it in future for sure 🙂
Loved your detailed description and recipe. Just one question though. You said that you use at least 1/3 carnauba wax. Does that mean instead of 50/50 you use about 66/33 percent beeswax to carnauba in the mix of 1 part wax to 8 parts mineral oil? Thanks
hi Meena! yes that is correct. happy DIY! 🙂
How do you figure mineral oil is all natural? It’s a by-product of the gasoline industry. It’s refined from crude oil and the same stuff is in your gas tank right now. Its carcinogenic especially if heated and inhaled, though shirt term exposure is fine I wouldnt be rubbing the stuff on your skin. There are OSHA safe exposure limits in place for people that work with food safe mineral oil. Food safe doesn’t mean safe to eat. Forks are food safe but they still have lead underneath the finish.
hi Jeff! thank you for sharing this info! there are different groups of mineral oil and some are listed as food safe, some are used in common baby oil products. most cutting board oil contains mineral oil as the main ingredient.
Your kitchen is beautiful! Love the colors! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe for the butcher block conditioner.
Great recipe – thanks! I followed it with the carnauba and yellow beeswax 50-50 mix and have used it twice on my new maple countertop. I noticed some yellowy streaks and spots and I wonder whether it could be caused by the yellow beeswax? They’re subtle, but I would hate for them to become more apparent as time goes on. I’m thinking of remaking the recipe with a white beeswax just in case this is the cause.
hi grace! ours is also maple. maple and many other species of wood will darken slightly with a golden tone as they are exposed to natural light. our counter near the kitchen window has the most golden color. i don’t think it’s the yellow bees wax 🙂
Great tips that everyone can follow through when maintaining their cutting boards. Thanks for sharing.
Good article. I build high end custom hardwood furniture and cabinetry and have used this formula for 20+ years. You can simplify the entire process and make it easy to reapply by purchasing a small $10 crock pot from Walmart and then make and keep your sealer in it. I leave a scotchbrite pad in it to apply the sealer. When you get ready to reapply, just plug it in and let the sealer heat up. The warm oil/wax allows it to soak in and makes it easy to apply.
thank you Jack for sharing this great idea! i always admire woodworkers like you who can build such impressive furniture! 🙂
I second scotchbrite pads as applicators and buffers. I save worn out ones for even less ‘tooth’.
Love your beautiful countertops. I saw you wrote they were Maple. How long ago did you buy them? I can’t find Maple anywhere on Ikea’s website.
hi! we got ours at lumber liquidators. 🙂 home depot, lowes and some lumber stores also caryy solid wood counters.
I love your butcher block conditioner, but I’d like to point out an error. Mineral oil is NOT “natural”, it is derived from petroleum. I used to be a petroleum chemist and we made this to sell to companies that purify it further to make it food grade.
thank you so much cynthia for sharing your comment! 🙂 just curious, isn’t petroleum found in underground reservoirs, and maybe could be considered natural?
Sorry, missed the line where you said to add another 400 ml of oil…
I was reading your recipe and am confused..you say that you want to end up with a 1:8 ratio of mineral oil to beeswax but if you add 100 ml of beeswax to 400 ml of mineral oil, isn’t that 1:4 ratio?
Thanks for the recipe! What’s your best advice for “fixing” (or at least masking) knife marks on a wood cutting board?
hi david! you can use a flat sanding pad and 220 grit sand paper to smooth out knife marks that are not too deep. 🙂
Thanks! And then I assume I should apply oil/cream to seal?
yes! that would prolong the life of the cutting boards! 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing your recipe for the butcher block conditioner. Your kitchen is absolutely beautiful! Love your island, and the color!
thank you so much Sharon!! 🙂 we never knew a kitchen remodel is so much work! 🙂