Water + Wood
Water is a tricky substance to play with when it comes to the actual working of wood and wooden items. There are so many aspects in the world of water + wood, but I'm going to focus this post on how to take care of existing products. Because of the effects that water does have on wood, I always advise people to avoid water as much as possible. Mainly, I say that to prolong the lifespan of specifically kitchenware, since that is the type of product that will most likely come into contact with water.
But eventually, those cutting boards, rolling pins, bowls, etc. have to be washed. So how can they be washed if they shouldn't be in water???? Well, I'm glad I asked. *Winks*
Only by hand. That's the simplest answer I can give on how to wash. Basically, it just means to do it the same way you'd wash your hands. Light soap, running warm or cold water, and dry immediately after. You have to keep it super simple when it comes to cleaning wood because the more complex the wash, the harder it is for the wood to recover. This is also a reason to avoid a dishwasher with wood. We ran a test with one of our standard maple cutting boards with a salve finish, and found that after 10 washes in a standard dishwasher on a normal cycle the board had turned grey, warped, and split in many areas. The board ended up breaking in half on the last cycle. Most of the time, I remind myself that wood is/was a living thing, which means as kitchenware goes, it can't be treated with harsh chemicals or conditions, just like us. The more natural, the better.
Same goes for what we put in our bodies, the more natural, the better. Now that doesn't mean that we shouldn't use certain things like deodorant, cause let's just be honest, NOBODY should skip out on deodorant. Inventing that was a step in the right direction, regardless of what it may or may not do to us, but that is beside the point. So that's why we use a food safe salve finish with beeswax & mineral oil on our kitchenware. It's two natural substances so it works with intake into our bodies. But we'll go into details on the finish another time because I feel like I'm off track.
Another reason to avoid excess water on wood is because water will raise the grain of the wood. Raising the grain is not a huge issue, but it can open up the pores of the wood which would lead to bacteria developing inside if its left untreated. When the grain is raised, the surface of the wood will feel fuzzy or rough. During the making process, we actually intentionally raise the grain of each kitchenware item. I'll use a cutting board for an example here. Our process looks like this, after the board has been shaped, we sand through grits 120, 220, and 320, then apply water to the entire board, once the board is dry, return to sand with 320 grit and then apply finish. Returning to the 320 sanding will knock off the pre-raised grain caused by water and then the next time the board is in contact with water, the grain will only rise about 10% compared to if it was untreated.
Anytime that you feel like your board, pin, or bowl, is not smooth, stop by a hardware store and grab a sheet of 320 grit sandpaper to bring that board back to it's original glory. Sanding the board will never hurt it, but always apply salve after sanding is completed just to seal up the wood again.
Taking care of your kitchenware is a fairly simple task and is totally worth the extra effort. The care instructions I've mentioned are basically a standard across the board for any and all kitchenware, so next time your at your friends cutting board party, feel free to drop this knowledge on them.
At the shop, we do as much as we can to provide simple and easy to take care of products so that you can rest easy at night. But if there's ever a question that doesn't get answered in these articles, comment below and we'll get a response to you.
Thanks for the support you all give us! You have no idea how great this journey has been.