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USP Mineral Oil for chopping boards


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I've been given a nice end-grain wooden chopping board to replace my knackered old IKEA plastic one.

I know from other EGullet discussions that to keep it in good shape I should oil it regularly with 'USP mineral oil'.

But I seem to be encountering a language barrier. I've gone to DIY shops, chemists and supermarkets, and asked them all for mineral oil, and have got nothing - despite being offered everything from olive oil (no good - will go rancid) through linseed oil (toxic - so worse than useless) to Tung oil (probably OK but not quite what I'm after).

Is 'mineral oil' one of those things like Scotch Tape, Hoovers or Polyfilla for which there are different British English/American English words? If so, can anyone tell me what I should be asking for?

Thanks for your help.

Edited by Stigand (log)
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I've been given a nice end-grain wooden chopping board to replace my knackered old IKEA plastic one.

I know from other EGullet discussions that to keep it in good shape I should oil it regularly with 'USP mineral oil'.

But I seem to be encountering a language barrier. I've gone to DIY shops, chemists and supermarkets, and asked them all for mineral oil, and have got nothing offered everything from olive oil (no good - will go rancid) through linseed oil (toxic - so worse than useless) to Tung oil (probably OK but not the same).

Is 'mineral oil' one of those things like Scotch Tape, Hoovers or Polyfilla for which there are different British English/American English words? If so, can anyone tell me what I should be asking for?

Thanks for your help.

I was in Notting Hill Books for Cooks, and i believe they had the oil.... OR it was at this place Toms Deli in Westbourne Grove (near Notting Hill)...! i spent the day there and i saw it somewhere! Hope this helps! Almost sure it was at books for cooks tho...

i would call them to make sure tho!

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I am surprised a chemist wouldn't know what it is. It is used as a laxative.

Try this site, print it out and take it to a chemist. "White" oil

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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But I seem to be encountering a language barrier. I've gone to DIY shops, chemists and supermarkets, and asked them all for mineral oil, and have got nothing

I got my bottle of mineral oil in the IKEA on the North Circular; it was right by the wooden chopping boards.

Fi Kirkpatrick

tofu fi fie pho fum

"Your avatar shoes look like Marge Simpson's hair." - therese

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I've always just used olive oil too - and never any problems with boards going rancid. People have been using the stuff on chopping boards, wooden pestle and mortars, etc in the Middle East for just about as long as they've had olives, so I've always figured if it ain't broke ...

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.

Virginia Woolf

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not really, would you use motor oil just as readily?

Oh, don't be silly :rolleyes:

Olive oil works for us and hasn't gone 'rancid' as you claim after some 5 years of using it on a chopping board.

I wasn't 'being silly' if you remember it was you who said 'oil's oil at the end of the day'

hence my perfectly reasonable response.

Five minutes on google just returned no end of pages regarding oiling wooden surfaces which all had comments along the lines of 'Do not use olive or vegetable oils, as these can become rancid' so I'll stick with what i know, and what it seems scores of other people know to be true.

Edited by fisherman (log)
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>'Do not use olive or vegetable oils, as these can become rancid'

This may be an urban myth, propogated by people googling...

I have never actually oiled a chopping board, and equally have had no problems. There has been no warping - I can't think of any reason why you would need to oil them, but am prepared to learn where people have had problems when they have not oiled them.

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I've been given a nice end-grain wooden chopping board to replace my knackered old IKEA plastic one.

I know from other EGullet discussions that to keep it in good shape I should oil it regularly with 'USP mineral oil'.

But I seem to be encountering a language barrier. I've gone to DIY shops, chemists and supermarkets, and asked them all for mineral oil, and have got nothing - despite being offered everything from olive oil (no good - will go rancid) through linseed oil (toxic - so worse than useless) to Tung oil (probably OK but not quite what I'm after).

Is 'mineral oil' one of those things like Scotch Tape, Hoovers or Polyfilla for which there are different British English/American English words? If so, can anyone tell me what I should be asking for?

Thanks for your help.

I'd heard that wooden boards are illegal in UK kitchens as the absorbent surface can harbour bacteria (so much for the Health & Safety Police).

The oil is absorbed into the surface and, theoretically, denies space to bacteria. Doesn't McGee have chapter and verse on this?

I've only ever had one wooden board split on me and that was after I put it through the dishwasher - the glue dissolved.

Butchers I guess, must get away with using a block because the product cut on it is supposed (by the same H&S rules) to be carbonised beyond the point where bacteria could survive.

Lets not even get into the regs about different coloured boards and knives.

I have a full sized butcher block (mounted on a 1950's operating table base - adjustable height and angle for food prep and photography) which gets washed daily with a bleach solution, occasionally scoured with salt and is never oiled.

I always use a small polypropolene board on top of it when prepping anything for my three year old - otherwise the thing is just one big happy disease vector and I love it.

I agree with the rancidity point but I've got to admit that, as all the foodsafe mineral oils are sold as extreme laxatives, I'm more squeamish about using them than eating off my table.

Come to think of it, as thousands of people probably croaked their last on it before it came into my kitchen, I could well have the most unsavoury prep space known to man.

Edited by Tim Hayward (log)

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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The simple fact is, olive oil does not have an indefinite shelf life, after a while (approx 18 months in ideal storage circumstances (dark and cool), considerably less in typical kitchen surroundings) it will start to deteriorate, with both the colour and flavour being affected adversely

If you want to put something on an item which has as close a contact with your food as a chopping board does, that you know for a fact is going to sooner or later impair the taste and quality of food placed on that board, then go ahead, I wouldn't dream of stopping you.

If you've been doing it for 5 years and still haven't noticed a problem, then carry on, your palate is obviously too far gone to worry about.

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Just to note, Tung oil is poisonous, be very careful with it. 

ain't t'internet fantastic. This page says tung oil has FDA approval for food contact, Tung oil is not poisonous so - no need to be careful with it!!!

Tung oil is poisonous. Use gloves, and don't let it come in contact with your skin. Once it is fully dry, the surface is innocuous. However, like I said, please use it with caution, you can get very sick if you use it improperly.

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...I just get my butler to do all my chopping...

Yes, but what do you oil your butler with?

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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The simple fact is, olive oil does not have an indefinite shelf life, after a while (approx 18 months in ideal storage circumstances (dark and cool), considerably less in typical kitchen surroundings) it will start to deteriorate, with both the colour and flavour being affected adversely

If you want to put something on an item which has as close a contact with your food as a chopping board does, that you know for a fact is going to sooner or later impair the taste and quality of food placed on that board, then go ahead, I wouldn't dream of stopping you.

If you've been doing it for 5 years and still haven't noticed a problem, then carry on, your palate is obviously too far gone to worry about.

Sure, olive oil has a shelf life that is much shorter than that of my chopping board, but the surface of my chopping board gets cleaned rather more frequently than ever 18 months, every time I use it, in fact, which means daily as a minimum. Which means, I find, that I have to re-oil it lightly perhaps every couple of months to replace the surface-level oil that has been removed by repeated washing.

So, whilst quite possibly the oil that has made it deep within the fibres of the wood could theoretically have gone rancid (though without much/any contact with air, I find it hard to see how) the stuff on the surface which actually comes into contact with my food never hangs around long enough to get rancid.

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.

Virginia Woolf

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I think Pigeonpie has it right.

Any oxidised material is going to be cleaned off.

Why oil a board? Surely that is to control (minimise) the absorbtion of undesireables into the surface - by filling all the absorbant spaces with the desired oil. And because it washes/rubs off gradually, the board ought to be re-oiled from time to time.

I've tended to use sunflower... for my bread board and carving board. Routine chopping is done on plastic.

Tim - while it probably is disapproved by the Health and Safety authorities to use wooden boards in *commercial* kitchens, I doubt there's much law on what you get up to at home... Gas safety, yes. Rats, probably. Chopping boards? Nah... but I can well believe that Environmental Health wouldn't like wooden boards in a kitchen preparing food for public consumption.

Aren't butchers supposed to sand down their blocks, on a daily basis?

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Why oil a board? Surely that is to control (minimise) the absorbtion of undesireables into the surface - by filling all the absorbant spaces with the desired oil.

I thought the main reason to oil a chopping board (or a cricket bat) was to stop it drying out and splitting/cracking.

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I thought the main reason to oil a chopping board (or a cricket bat) was to stop it drying out and splitting/cracking.

exactly right, the only problem i've ever had with an unoiled board is cracks appearing.

we have wooden work surfaces in our kitchen (there when we moved in, and certainly not something i'd choose. ghastly habitat units, designed for people who don't cook) and i have to oil them from time to time, to keep the wood in good condition, not for any hygene reason.

whatever your opinon on any of the posts in this thread, one thing is true, parafin and mineral oil are the correct oils to use for wooden boards and surfaces, and will have no impact at all on the taste or quality of your food, not the day you oil the board, and not 5 years later. oils like olive, sunflower, vegetable etc all will, before too long, reach a state where you certainly wouldn't cook with them, so why leave them lingering on your boards / surfaces?

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