The kitchen countertop is an essential, unsung hero of every home. For some people, a stone countertop is what works for them, but many homeowners prefer the look and feel of a kitchen wood countertop. If you’re one of those people, you already know that you need to exercise a little bit of care and maintenance to keep it in good shape. But we’re here to show you that adding extra wax or varnish isn’t always the way. If your wood countertop is being used for food preparation, natural oil is what we recommend. Here’s why!
NATURAL OIL IS THE NATURAL CHOICE
An oiled wood surface makes a great choice for a kitchen countertop for a number of reasons. The most prominent is food safety. A layer of varnish is essentially a layer of chemicals on top of your wood, and you’re now preparing your food on top of that layer. You’re even cutting into that chemical layer with knives and other sharp or powerful kitchen tools!
Oil on a wood worktop, however, is non-toxic, so there is no issue at all with possible chemical contamination. What’s more, oil is easy to maintain, and it actually nourishes and protects your kitchen wood countertop, helping to extend the lifespan of the wood itself. And for people that want the pleasant feel and traction of wood grain, oil preserves this. You don’t get the shiny, reflective sheen of a layer of varnish, but instead, have the natural look and texture of the wood itself. After all, if you’re going to have a kitchen countertop made of wood, why treat it with chemicals until it resembles plastic?
USE THE RIGHT OIL
If you’re going to have a wood countertop that uses oil, make sure you pick one that’s good for your needs. Oil basically falls into two categories for a kitchen wood countertop; mineral and vegetable. Both of them can be “food safe” with the right brands and will have no impact on your health or food preparation.
Mineral oils, sometimes also called liquid paraffin, are derived from petroleum, but if you select the right type of oil, it will be food safe. This type of oil is non-drying, which means it remains moist and permeates the wood, and adds water resistance by forcing moisture to bead on the surface rather than be absorbed into the wood itself. They are less expensive but are lower durability and require higher maintenance.
Vegetable oil is exactly what you’d expect. While most oils, like canola, are indeed vegetable oils great for cooking, they are not recommended for longer-term uses like your kitchen wood countertop or chopping block. The fat contained in traditional vegetable cooking oils will go rancid over time, so only specialized vegetable oils such as steam distilled coconut oil or, better yet, Linseed or Tung oil, are good for regular use and application on your wood worktop.
Unlike a stone countertop, a kitchen wood countertop requires a little bit of extra care. You can’t just spray on a typical kitchen cleaner with alcohol or a degreasing agent. The oil in your countertop will be attacked by more conventional, chemical cleaners with degreasing agents. Instead, when cleaning your wood countertop, us a safe, pH neutral soap, or a black soap product.
To keep your kitchen countertop in better shape, also remember to do periodical maintenance. If you’re using mineral oil, once a month, give your kitchen countertop another “oil massage” to help maintain its resistance to both stains and moisture. If you want to look after your wood countertop, also schedule a major reapplication of oil, making sure the surface is penetrated, every year or every two years. It’s a little bit more work, but the result is a countertop that actually looks better with each passing year as age, and the oil treatment brings out the best in the wood’s color and texture, while at the same time giving you a great food preparations surface.
In the case of a better quality oil like Kunos, your oil surface will last more than two year without reapplying oil given proper maintenance. This is due to the siccative property of the oil and an optimized natural wax content.
If you want to keep a perfect look for your countertop, just make sure not to cut directly on the surface by using a cutting board to avoid grooves.
SHARE WITH US!
If you’ve followed our advice or had your own experience with oiling your kitchen countertop, we want to hear about it! Tell us how it went, or, if you are just doing your preliminary research, download our guide and compare the oils, varnishes, and waxes for different wood and different needs. We’re always happy to get more people engaged in the convenience and beauty of properly maintained wood.