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If you’ve noticed your wooden cutting board is starting to splinter, you may wonder why this is happening and how to prevent it.

Wooden cutting boards are popular for their durability and natural beauty but require maintenance to keep them in good condition.

In this article, we’ll explore why your wooden cutting board may be splintering and provide some tips on preventing it from happening in the future.

1. Lack of Maintenance

A lack of maintenance is one of the main reasons your wooden cutting board may be splintering.

Over time, the entire surface of your wooden board can become dry and brittle, making it more susceptible to splintering. This is especially true if you frequently use a heavy knife on your board, as the weight and force of the knife can cause the wood fibers to break down and separate.

Over 75% of Americans do not properly maintain their wooden cutting boards, leading to an increased potential for splintering and bacteria growth.

To prevent it’s important to maintain your wooden board regularly.

This can include oiling it with food-grade mineral oil every few weeks to keep the wood moisturized and prevent it from drying out.

You can also use sandpaper or a scraper to remove any rough spots or splinters that may have formed on the surface of your board.

In addition, it’s important to be mindful of the type of knife you use on your board.

A heavy knife can cause more damage to the wood than a lighter one, so consider using a lighter knife or a plastic cutting board for tasks that require more force.

By taking these steps to maintain your wooden cutting board, you can help prevent splintering and prolong its lifespan.

Actionable tip: Regular oiling, seasoning, and conditioning of wooden cutting boards, ideally every month or after repeated use

2. High Moisture Exposure

Another reason your wooden cutting board may be splintering is high moisture exposure.

Wood is an organic material that naturally absorbs moisture, which can cause it to expand and contract. This can lead to warping, cracking, and ultimately splintering.

Avoid leaving your wooden cutting board in standing water or washing it in the dishwasher to prevent high moisture exposure.

Instead, hand wash it with warm soapy water and dry it thoroughly with a towel.

wooden cutting board

You can also apply food-grade mineral oil or beeswax to help seal the wood and prevent moisture from penetrating.

Alternatively, you can consider using a plastic cutting board instead.

Plastic cutting boards are non-porous, meaning they don’t absorb moisture like wooden cutting boards. They are also dishwasher-safe and easy to clean, making them a convenient option for busy cooks.

However, if you prefer a wooden cutting board’s natural look and feel, just be sure to take extra care to prevent high moisture exposure and protect your investment for years to come.

Actionable tip: Drying wooden cutting boards thoroughly and store them in a dry, ventilated area 

Common mistake: Putting wet or damp cutting boards in the dishwasher or air drying them upright

3. Cleaning Methods

The way you clean your wooden cutting board can also contribute to splintering.

Using harsh cleaning methods can damage the wood fibers and cause them to separate, leading to splinters.

One study found that up to 100,000 bacteria per cm square can accumulate on wooden cutting boards, even after washing with soap and water.

So, what are the best cleaning methods to prevent splintering?

First, avoid using a dishwasher or soaking your wooden cutting board in water for long periods.

This can cause the wood to expand and contract, leading to cracks and splits. Instead, use gentle soap and warm water to clean your board.

You can also use a mixture of board oils and vinegar to sanitize and condition the wood.

Second, never use hot water to clean your wooden cutting board.

Hot water can cause the wood to warp and crack. Instead, use lukewarm water to clean your board.

Finally, make sure to dry your cutting board thoroughly after cleaning.

Leaving it wet can cause the wood to swell and lead to splintering. Use a clean towel to dry your board, then let it air dry completely before using it again.

By following these simple cleaning methods, you can prevent splintering and extend the life of your wooden cutting board.

Actionable tip: Use gentle and natural cleaning methods for wooden cutting boards, such as vinegar or lemon, instead of harsh chemicals 

Common mistake: Soaking wooden cutting boards in water or using abrasive sponges or brushes 

4. Material Quality

The quality of your wooden cutting board plays a significant role in preventing splintering.

If your cutting board is made of low-quality wood, it will be more prone to splintering, especially when using a sharp knife blade.

One way to prevent this is by investing in a high-quality wooden cutting board made from hardwoods such as maple, cherry, or walnut.

These woods are known for their durability and resistance to splintering.

Also, choose a smooth surface board with no cracks or knots that could weaken the board’s structure.

Another way to maintain the quality of your cutting board is by regularly oiling it.

This helps to seal the wood and prevent moisture from penetrating the board, which can cause it to expand and contract, leading to splintering.

Investing in a high-quality cutting board and properly maintaining it can ensure that it lasts longer and reduces the risk of splintering, making your kitchen tasks safer and more enjoyable.

MaterialProsConsMaintenance
WoodNatural and traditional look; gentle on knife blades; self-healing properties; renewable resource.Can harbor bacteria if not cleaned properly; can be difficult to sanitize; may require oiling to prevent cracking and warping.Hand wash with mild soap and warm water; dry thoroughly; periodically oil with mineral or other food-grade oils.
PlasticAffordable; lightweight; dishwasher safe; easy to sanitize; it comes in various colors.Can dull knife blades faster than other materials; may stain or develop deep grooves over time; not environmentally friendly.Dishwasher safe; hand wash with hot, soapy water; avoid harsh chemicals; replace when worn or heavily grooved.
BambooSustainable and eco-friendly; durable and long-lasting; natural antimicrobial properties.Can dull knife blades faster than other materials; may split or crack over time; requires proper maintenance.Hand wash with mild soap and warm water; dry thoroughly; periodically oil with mineral or other food-grade oils.
GlassEasy to clean and sanitize; does not harbor bacteria; durable and long-lasting.Can dull knife blades faster than other materials; may break or chip easily; hard surfaces can damage knives.Hand wash with mild soap and warm water; avoid harsh chemicals; do not use on granite or other hard surfaces; handle with care.
Stainless SteelNon-porous and easy to sanitize; does not harbor bacteria; long-lasting and durable; can double as a serving tray.Hard surfaces can damage knives; noisy and may leave scratch marks on the surface; they can be heavy and difficult to maneuver.Hand wash with mild soap and warm water; avoid harsh chemicals; dry thoroughly; do not use abrasive sponges or pads.
Comparison Table for the Best Cutting Board Materials

Final thoughts

In conclusion, wooden cutting boards are a great addition to any kitchen but require proper care to prevent splintering. By following the tips in this article, you can ensure that your cutting board stays in top condition and lasts for years.

Remember to oil it regularly, avoid using harsh detergents, and store it properly to prevent moisture buildup. You can keep your cutting board looking and functioning like new with a little effort.

Upgrade your cooking game with wooden utensils – find out why they are perfect for nonstick pans.


FAQ

Do Bamboo Cutting Boards Splinter? 

Bamboo cutting boards can potentially splinter if they are not properly cared for or if they have been damaged.

However, bamboo is generally considered a durable and strong material for cutting boards, and with proper maintenance and care, splintering can be avoided.

It is important to regularly oil and clean bamboo cutting boards to prevent drying and cracking, which can lead to splintering.

Is it safe to use a cracked cutting board?

No, it is not safe to use a cracked cutting board. Cracks in a cutting board can harbor bacteria and other harmful contaminants, contaminating the food being prepared on the board.

It is important to replace a cracked cutting board to ensure food safety.

What is the best oil for wood-cutting boards?

The best oil for wood-cutting boards is food-grade mineral oil, a colorless, odorless, and flavorless oil that helps to protect the wood from moisture and bacteria.

It is important to use food-grade mineral oil, as other oils like vegetable or olive oil can turn rancid and affect the taste and smell of food.

It is recommended to apply the oil to the board every few weeks to maintain its condition.

Is it OK to soak a wooden cutting board?

No, it is not recommended to soak a wooden cutting board as it can cause the wood to warp, crack, or split.

Instead, it is recommended to clean the board with warm water and mild soap and then immediately dry it with a towel.

It is also recommended to periodically oil the board to help protect it and keep it from drying out.