Is Cedar Good for Cutting Boards?

Cedar wood has earned a good reputation as it is being used for several woodworking projects. Among the many reasons of its popularity is its overall visual appeal and natural aromatic smell. Cedar wood is mostly seen in projects including clothing storage, musical instruments, shingles, and even in paneling. With the seemingly flexible nature of this wood, one question surfaces, is Cedar good for cutting boards?

As a short answer, no, Cedar wood is not an ideal option for cutting boards. While it may be used, it does not give the best performance. By nature, Cedar is very soft for this purpose, and as such, not recommended for cutting boards which means that the board will come in contact with a knife. When that happens, cut marks will be difficult to clean and quite deep. Aside from this, there are other reasons why Cedar wood is not an ideal option for making cutting boards. 

Advantages of Using Cedar for Cutting Board

  • Aesthetic appeal
  • Lightweight
  • Absorbs water fast, giving less time for bacteria survival
  • Relatively cheaper
  • Rot and warp resistant
  • Wood is poisonous to bugs

Disadvantages of Using Cedar for Cutting Board

  • Oil from Cedar is toxic when exposed to food
  • Too soft by nature
  • The odor may transfer into the food
  • Wood slivers may appear on the food
  • Tannins may leave marks on your fingers
  • Less durable and brittle

Possible Toxicity to Humans

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Cedar wood comes with its own aromatic oils. They are also known to contain some toxic compounds that help them survive in the jungle, warding off bacteria. This is the very reason why Cedar is toxic to bugs. This could also be dangerous when Cedar is used to make cutting boards since it will be in contact with food. Even though the toxic compounds that is transferred on the food will be very minimal, but with prolonged use, it may be quite harmful, even to humans. 

If the oil of Cedar wood enters the body, it may irritate the respiratory system, especially when sufficient concentrations is inhaled. This may result to problems such as runny nose and asthma, to name a few. This very result is similar when cedar dust is inhaled when sawing or sanding cedar wood before actually creating a cutting board. 

How to Reduce the Risk

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True, when it comes to wood dust, the risk is always present. Wood dust, when inhaled, is bad for the respiratory system. Note, however, that the aromatic oil that comes from wood such as Cedar can be higher than with other types of wood. To potentially reduce the risk, make sure to wear protective gear, such as goggles and mask when making something out of Cedar wood. 

At the same time, since Cedar wood is very soft, the cut marks from the knife will be forever etched on the wood. While end-grain cedar is known for its capacity to heal the marks with continued use, the softness of this wood allows bacteria to enter into the wood. This means that when using Cedar wood as a cutting board, the bacteria that are trapped in the pores may be transferred into the food, posing danger to humans and animals. 

Alternative Wood for Making Cutting Boards

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Instead of using Cedar wood and be exposed to the potential dangers, there are alternative options that you may want to take into consideration. Let us take a look at them:

  • Walnut

If you do not like to see your cutting board shrinking, the walnut wood may just be the best option since boards made out of Walnut do not really shrink, making them very good for use for a long time. They may require good maintenance than Cedar, and still have the possibility of keeping knife marks and dents. Still, cutting boards made of Walnut are very durable. 

  • Beech

What makes Beech wood an ideal option for making cutting boards is its higher hardness rating. Also, there is no need to be concerned about the wood getting warped or water being absorbed. Beech keeps water out. Also, since Beech have impact and scratch resistance, you can keep its appeal for a long time. 

Beech cutting boards feature small porosity, thus preventing bacteria from entering the surface of the board and getting in contact with food, thus keeping humans and animals safe. You may want to take into consideration, however, that a disadvantage of using Beech wood for cutting boards is that it has the tendency to shrink through time. This can be prevented with the right conditioning and by using a coating that is formulated to be stain-resistant.

  • Maple

Maple is, by far, considered as one of the most common types of wood, and not to mention, the most ideal, for making cutting boards. Its light color gives off a naturally attractive appearance. The best part is that it looks like Cedar wood. Maple wood is harder than Cedar wood which means that the cutting boards made of Maple will not easily scratch with knives. 

Maple wood also features small porosity, thus preventing bacteria from getting in contact with your food. The only concern you may have with Maple cutting boards is that it requires maintenance at least once a month because it easily stains. Overall, with Maple wood cutting boards, you can expect higher strength, higher durability, hardness, and other good qualities. 

Conclusion

In this article, we answered the question: “Is Cedar good for cutting boards?” While it is possible to use this wood for making cutting boards, there are some risks in doing so. For one, Cedar wood is very soft. Also, they have qualities that could be dangerous to humans. For these reasons, it is not recommended to use this type of wood for this culinary purpose. We have also included in this article some alternatives that you can use instead. What wood do you prefer for making cutting boards? Share your thoughts in the comments section below! You may also share this article if you like!

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