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A wood-expert-friend told me not only that oak's toxic but also that, because of this, it's actually illegal in England (or UK) to make chopping boards out of it! I was trying to check this out (due to seeing oak chopping boards on sale in Sainsbury's!) when I found your forum. I did find that oak is indeed toxic, but haven't been able to confirm the law bit yet - anyone here able to either confirm or disprove it? Thank you.
 

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Ross
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Welcome to the forum @TJ from ~Brum

The previous entry from yours is dated 2018. If you start a new thread with your inquiry you will have more chance of an answer. Enjoy the forum. (moved by moderator)
 

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I can't answer your legal question, but wonder why oak barrels have long been used for aging wine and spirits. I can only speculate on the rationale for cutting board prohibition is that red oak, in particular, is very porous, which might allow for harboring bacteria. The law might specify which oak species are banned. Please post your findings. Good luck!
 

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Everything I've researched is cautionary about oak's porous nature and harboring bacteria. Cut up a raw chicken and you take your life in your hands unless you wash the heck out of it. I wouldn't use it. IMHO
 

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as a cutting board maker for years I'll tell you that oak is OK to use, white oak more so than red oak, red has larger pores and if not properly seasoned and maintained can sometimes have issues, use only mineral oil to treat your boards, soak them till the bubbles stop or if you're lazy like me toss them in a tub and forget them overnight
 

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I wonder how much of a cutting board one needs to ingest in order to develop oak toxicity? Oak toxicity generally refers to ingestion of leaves etc by cattle. During WWII, my mother (in common with a lot of Europe) used to roast acorns to make ersatz coffee. Wonder if they are doing the same in Ukraine right now?

Most woods have some antibacterial activity, oak being no exception. I would go with the pores harbouring bacteria, but I would think that would apply to all woods. The non-porous woods are only non-porous macroscopically. Marble is porous, didn't stop it being used for centuries as a surface for food preparation.

Raw chicken often contains bacteria - about 75% of chicken purchased in the US, according to Consumer Reports (I have no idea how trustworthy that organ is). Washing may or may not help, the idea is to not eat raw chicken - adequate cooking kills the bacteria.
 

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One way to seal your boards is to melt paraffin to a liquid form and brush it on being very liberal with the application. This will seep into the Oak and seal it very well. After it has cooled you can scrape off the excess wax and use your board.
 

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I hope it's not toxic. It's widely used for smoking meat. I read a USDA report on cutting board bacterial growth years ago. The wood sample was better than a plastic board. Not sure what species that was, but apparently it was due to the woods natural antibacterial action. I still wouldn't cut meat on a wood board.
 

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Everything I've researched is cautionary about oak's porous nature and harboring bacteria. Cut up a raw chicken and you take your life in your hands unless you wash the heck out of it. I wouldn't use it. IMHO
The red oaks are porous and do create a risk as Tom stated, white oak is not. If you are not confident about which species you have then do not use.
For meat of any kind I prefer the UHMW boards and only veggies on our wooden ones.
 

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A wood-expert-friend told me not only that oak's toxic but also that, because of this, it's actually illegal in England (or UK) to make chopping boards out of it! I was trying to check this out (due to seeing oak chopping boards on sale in Sainsbury's!) when I found your forum. I did find that oak is indeed toxic, but haven't been able to confirm the law bit yet - anyone here able to either confirm or disprove it? Thank you.
Wood dust from any type of wood is harmful to your lungs. Some more severe than others. But if your talking about oak wood and not oak dust=

The problem with Oak (in general), is the leaves, bark and dust. This portion of the wood could be sensitizers. Which in time can become a irritant or give you an allergic reaction to wood. So, the oak wood is not the problem, it's the leaves, bark and dust. Also, the oak wood in solid form (boards or wood blocks) is not known to cause health issues. Unless someone swings a oak board at you and hits you over your head. That would cause a lump or two.

I would not use Red Oak for a chopping block/cutting board. It's too porous.

I would use White Oak instead. White Oak is a poplar wood to make wine barrels.

This is my opinion of my research on toxicity of oak. Myself, I would use White Oak.
 

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Wood dust from any type of wood is harmful to your lungs. Some more severe than others. But if your talking about oak wood and not oak dust=

The problem with Oak (in general), is the leaves, bark and dust. This portion of the wood could be sensitizers. Which in time can become a irritant or give you an allergic reaction to wood. So, the oak wood is not the problem, it's the leaves, bark and dust. Also, the oak wood in solid form (boards or wood blocks) is not known to cause health issues. Unless someone swings a oak board at you and hits you over your head. That would cause a lump or two.

I would not use Red Oak for a chopping block/cutting board. It's too porous.

I would use White Oak instead. White Oak is a poplar wood to make wine barrels.

This is my opinion of my research on toxicity of oak. Myself, I would use White Oak.
Another good reason to have a Air Filtration Unit in your woodshop.
 

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One way to seal your boards is to melt paraffin to a liquid form and brush it on being very liberal with the application. This will seep into the Oak and seal it very well. After it has cooled you can scrape off the excess wax and use your board.
You can get a little better penetration by adding a little mineral oil to the wax.
 

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You can get a little better penetration by adding a little mineral oil to the wax.
I do it the other way around; I add a little Beeswax to the mineral oil for the final coat. I keep some mixed up and ready to use (usually heat it prior to using each time).
 
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