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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I installed some off the shelf big box store birch “butcher block” by hardwood reflections.

Understanding this is not true end grain, and not of the high standard of a traditional butcher block, we moved forward with it.

I applied about 3/4 coats of mineral to the bottom and what at this point must be about 10+ coats on the top. I know that's excessive, but I just kept assuming it still needs more since it was getting fully absorbed in certain areas.

Attached is a picture I took this morning. I oiled it last night, and you can see some boards have fully absorbed the oil, while the rest has not. I'm not sure about the inconsistency or why it's still getting absorbed.

Also, even after these 10 or so heavy coats, a hot coffee cup was placed down for a few minutes yesterday, and it left a nice ring. I can buff it out and oil it, but at this point it should be somewhat water resistant. Water does not bead as I would have thought at this point.

I purchased some Howards conditioner which I hope will help, but can anyone advise why the oil is not fully absorbed, as well as how I'm getting water stains when it's been getting oiled daily for close to 2 week? I don't expect the oil to act as a wax, but it's providing nearly no protection. I am using Pharmacy grade USP 100% mineral.

Thanks.

Brown Amber Wood Rectangle Beige
 

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I maintained a large butcher block countertop for a few years and had the same issue. In fact I would let the oil sit overnight before removing the excess. And like you I never got 100% absorption coverage. From what you've wrote, I would start adding bees wax to the top. The wax will make it far more resistant to damage. Apply a heavy wax coating to the whole piece and then remove the excess with a clean cloth. You can alternate between oil and wax as you see fit. I usually did at least 3 or 4 of each. The wax makes it look great and provides the protection you need.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
I maintained a large butcher block countertop for a few years and had the same issue. In fact I would let the oil sit overnight before removing the excess. And like you I never got 100% absorption coverage. From what you've wrote, I would start adding bees wax to the top. The wax will make it far more resistant to damage. Apply a heavy wax coating to the whole piece and then remove the excess with a clean cloth. You can alternate between oil and wax as you see fit. I usually did at least 3 or 4 of each. The wax makes it look great and provides the protection you need.
Thanks! The conditioner I got is part mineral oil and part beeswax (and I believe caranuba wax).
I was going to get pure beeswax and melt it and mix with mineral oil but figured easier to just use the conditioner for now.

it’s just unusual because basically everywhere says to use Mineral oil and that should be good enough, though wax or waterlox would offer more protection.
 

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I wonder what type of wood it is? I have a lot of Cherry butcher block and have not had any problem with staining that won't come out with some lemon juice. Also have you tried warming your oil before applying it? It might soak in better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I wonder what type of wood it is? I have a lot of Cherry butcher block and have not had any problem with staining that won't come out with some lemon juice. Also have you tried warming your oil before applying it? It might soak in better.
Hi Kirk. It’s birch. I’d imagine your cherry BB would hold up differently (better) than mine. It’s probably one of the most affordable ones out there.

I haven’t tried warming the oil. I have the Howard’s conditioner coming in today so I’ll try that and see how it goes. Maybe the wax will help it seal better.

I’m wondering if mine (and Stevens’) experience differs from most people because they either have a different wood species or perhaps they apply some sort of finish/topcoat.

Below is the product which overall has positive reviews.

 

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I have to oil my birch (Menards) butcherblock counters every couple months. There's a section behind the sink that is staining and discoloring badly. I'm waiting until i build my new bottom cabinets before I try and remedy it, but this is an issue I've seen with all BB counters - including the solid oak Ikea counters which are NLA.

I bought a 3L jug of walnut oil expressly for the purpose of oiling my counters. I only use mineral oil for my marble-topped hoosier cabinet base.

At some point, the wood will become so saturated with oil, that it will only need an occassional topcoat, but based on my experience that takes a long time.
 

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I have to oil my birch (Menards) butcherblock counters every couple months. There's a section behind the sink that is staining and discoloring badly. I'm waiting until i build my new bottom cabinets before I try and remedy it, but this is an issue I've seen with all BB counters - including the solid oak Ikea counters which are NLA.

I bought a 3L jug of walnut oil expressly for the purpose of oiling my counters. I only use mineral oil for my marble-topped hoosier cabinet base.

At some point, the wood will become so saturated with oil, that it will only need an occassional topcoat, but based on my experience that takes a long time.
You are correct Jack the areas around the sink get washed out sooner. We keep a rag in a zip-lock bag under the sink that is wet from oiling that I can grab and run over it without getting oil out.
Also a tip for those who have a lot of butcher block if you go to a farm store you can buy gallon jugs of mineral oil for about $15.00 in the livestock vet supply areas. It is used as a mild laxative o_O
 

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Mineral oil is actually a laxative. It wouldn't function if it was waterproof. It won't seal wood against water, it's something that will need to be re-applied over and over to maintain. The wax suggested would help or other oils would have been better but an oil finish is a high maintenance item.

With a lot of elbow grease you could remove the mineral oil from the wood by repeatedly washing it with lacquer thinner and drying it with paper towels. Once stripped you could lightly sand it and coat it with 100% tung oil. Tung oil with enough coats would be completely waterproof. Tung oil was originally used to finish the hulls of boats.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I have to oil my birch (Menards) butcherblock counters every couple months. There's a section behind the sink that is staining and discoloring badly. I'm waiting until i build my new bottom cabinets before I try and remedy it, but this is an issue I've seen with all BB counters - including the solid oak Ikea counters which are NLA.

I bought a 3L jug of walnut oil expressly for the purpose of oiling my counters. I only use mineral oil for my marble-topped hoosier cabinet base.

At some point, the wood will become so saturated with oil, that it will only need an occassional topcoat, but based on my experience that takes a long time.
good luck with yours. Yes, I don’t get why it’s not commonly mentioned how long it takes to saturate.

You are correct Jack the areas around the sink get washed out sooner. We keep a rag in a zip-lock bag under the sink that is wet from oiling that I can grab and run over it without getting oil out.
Also a tip for those who have a lot of butcher block if you go to a farm store you can buy gallon jugs of mineral oil for about $15.00 in the livestock vet supply areas. It is used as a mild laxative o_O
Thanks. We’ve actually been doing the same with the zip loc. thanks for the tip about the vet supply.
I’ve been buying the human laxative from target, pretty reasonable at $2 / 16 oz bottle.

I put Howard’sconditioner just now. Took nearly an entire bottle for one thin coat. I’m going to have to buy some beeswax and possibly carnauba to make my own because this seems like it’ll get pricey quick.

I’ll follow up with my results. Thanks for the help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Mineral oil is actually a laxative. It wouldn't function if it was waterproof. It won't seal wood against water, it's something that will need to be re-applied over and over to maintain. The wax suggested would help or other oils would have been better but an oil finish is a high maintenance item.

With a lot of elbow grease you could remove the mineral oil from the wood by repeatedly washing it with lacquer thinner and drying it with paper towels. Once stripped you could lightly sand it and coat it with 100% tung oil. Tung oil with enough coats would be completely waterproof. Tung oil was originally used to finish the hulls of boats.
Thanks. I don’t really get it. What you’re saying makes sense, but sooo many places say to “seal” it with mineral oil. My experience is what you’re saying. It sounds like the wax should work fine. I’ll be on top of the area around the sink as well.
 

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Thanks. I don’t really get it. What you’re saying makes sense, but sooo many places say to “seal” it with mineral oil. My experience is what you’re saying. It sounds like the wax should work fine. I’ll be on top of the area around the sink as well.
The use of mineral oil on a butcher block is intended for one used as a cutting board. The oil is meant to seal the wood enough that the germs from cutting meat don't penetrate so far it can't be washed clean. It isn't intended as a wood finish for a butcher block countertop used only as a countertop. A cutting board you wash it and it removes much of the mineral oil but once dry you recoat it. You will either have to use a waterproof finish suitable for a countertop or re-treat the area around the sink with mineral oil every time it gets wet. Mineral oil just isn't a sealer and adding wax will only make it a little better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The use of mineral oil on a butcher block is intended for one used as a cutting board. The oil is meant to seal the wood enough that the germs from cutting meat don't penetrate so far it can't be washed clean. It isn't intended as a wood finish for a butcher block countertop used only as a countertop. A cutting board you wash it and it removes much of the mineral oil but once dry you recoat it. You will either have to use a waterproof finish suitable for a countertop or re-treat the area around the sink with mineral oil every time it gets wet. Mineral oil just isn't a sealer and adding wax will only make it a little better.
I hear you, and I don’t doubt what you’re saying, especially given my experience.

I just know I’ve seen countless websites and YouTube videos (including the butcher block manufacturer and Home Depot) recommending mineral oil to seal countertops specifically. The instructions that came with the counter even mentioned it as an option.

not saying that they stated mineral oil is the only option (I’ve seen tung Oil, waterlox, poly, water based poly, even hardwood floor sealer), but I kept seeing mineral oil as well as an effective solution.

live and learn I guess. I’ll see how the wax goes since I’ve already applied it, if it doesn’t work out I’ll sand and try tung oil or another solution. Thanks.
 

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I hear you, and I don’t doubt what you’re saying, especially given my experience.

I just know I’ve seen countless websites and YouTube videos (including the butcher block manufacturer and Home Depot) recommending mineral oil to seal countertops specifically. The instructions that came with the counter even mentioned it as an option.

not saying that they stated mineral oil is the only option (I’ve seen tung Oil, waterlox, poly, water based poly, even hardwood floor sealer), but I kept seeing mineral oil as well as an effective solution.

live and learn I guess. I’ll see how the wax goes since I’ve already applied it, if it doesn’t work out I’ll sand and try tung oil or another solution. Thanks.
I don't know what to tell you about websites or youtube videos. There is a lot of people making them that don't know what they are doing or expect someone to keep water off their countertop when that isn't possible. They seem to never take in condition normal wear and tear on anything. Then the manufacturers are not immune from giving bad advise, They are trying to sell a product and want to make it look overly easy for the DIY so they won't get cold feet thinking of how are they going to put a finish on the top after it's installed.

Tung oil, waterlox, poly and water based poly would have given you much better protection. The only problem is tung oil is pretty yellow and would give a yellow tint to the wood with enough coats to actually seal the wood. Then oil based poly would have given it a slight yellow tint but would continue to yellow as it aged. I think most people would be offended by the yellow color to the wood.

Since you plan on using wax now you probably shouldn't use either oil based poly or the water based poly later on. One of the shortcomings from poly is it doesn't adhere very well and with even a slight trace of wax left it's likely to fail. You could use tung oil or waterlox or even plain oil based varnish and it should adhere.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I don't know what to tell you about websites or youtube videos. There is a lot of people making them that don't know what they are doing or expect someone to keep water off their countertop when that isn't possible. They seem to never take in condition normal wear and tear on anything. Then the manufacturers are not immune from giving bad advise, They are trying to sell a product and want to make it look overly easy for the DIY so they won't get cold feet thinking of how are they going to put a finish on the top after it's installed.

Tung oil, waterlox, poly and water based poly would have given you much better protection. The only problem is tung oil is pretty yellow and would give a yellow tint to the wood with enough coats to actually seal the wood. Then oil based poly would have given it a slight yellow tint but would continue to yellow as it aged. I think most people would be offended by the yellow color to the wood.

Since you plan on using wax now you probably shouldn't use either oil based poly or the water based poly later on. One of the shortcomings from poly is it doesn't adhere very well and with even a slight trace of wax left it's likely to fail. You could use tung oil or waterlox or even plain oil based varnish and it should adhere.
Thanks. Yes I agree. Most how-tos and videos show you how they do it, but don’t show you the product 6 months/ years down the line when their project is falling apart due to poor construction/ water damage/ etc.. Then they post affiliate links to make money off pushing the items they used.

I’d expect more from manufactures and corporations, but I guess I shouldn’t sInce they’re also pushing products.

I’ll see how the wax holds up and decide from there. I do want to keep it food safe since it’s a kitcehn(though I don’t be cutting directly in counter) so that will also play a factor. Thanks for your help.
 

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Shameless plug, but this stuff works: Woodturning finishes from Doctor's Woodshop > Store
Mineral oil doesn't. Oils applied to maple and birch will look blotchy due to the shifty grain. Drs is a wax and looks great, but like any wax will need restoring once in a while -- like 3 to 4 months.
Apply with plenty of vigorous rubbing. A felt pad on a RO sander helps. You want to generate some friction so the wax melts and soaks into the wood; it will last longer. Do several coats 2-3 days apart the first time; it takes a while to harden. Then one coat every few months thereafter.
Any food-safe finish on wood used in a kitchen will need to be replenished. It is the nature of the beast. Watch out for oils with dryers added. Dryers make them hard but dryers are heavy metals = poison. Read the SDS - the safety data sheet. The mfr will post them on their website.
Amateur chemists can make their own food safe wax with 2 parts carnauba flakes, 1 part beeswax, and 1 part orange wax. Melt it down in a double boiler, stir, and store in a can or jar. The materials are safe and you can buy them online at DIY cosmetic stores; though drinking orange wax will give you quite a stomach ache, in the quantity you will use it is not a problem. I used to use this until I found Drs. His is better and I don't have to make it.
 

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Boards are probably just lower grade Birch of varying density and moisture content. Boards with lower density in theory should dry faster in the kiln, leaving a dryer board (compared to the denser boards in the same batch) that is extra thirsty for moisture. Lower density also means more empty space within the wood for oil to be absorbed into it.

I would buy some beeswax, melt it, and rub it in while still hot (obviously not burning hot) so that it penetrates and seals under the surface, then continue as you've been doing, but with a beeswax / carnauba wax / mineral oil blend like Howard Butcher Block Conditioner or similar till you get a consistent surface finish.
 
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