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Community and Q&A

Can you stain butcher block

Brent_F | Posted in General Questions on

I recently purchased a Baltic birch butcher block countertop for our kitchen island. My wife would prefer the look of it to be much darker, more like an espresso color. I’m curios has anyone ever had success staining a butcher block countertop and sealing it with butcher block oil? I’m concerned with the stain possibly leaching through and I would guess that wouldn’t be heathy to consume. Are there any food grade stains available? Any help / advice is greatly appreciated.

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  1. charlie_sullivan | | #1

    This is a hack I've used on some projects and had better success thank I'd expect: I've used caramel color, sold as food coloring, as a wood dye. I've simply adjusted the dilution (in water) and wetted the wood with it. I think I've only done that with a shellac finish over that--I'm not sure how well it would work with an oil finish, but as long as the water dries thoroughly, I'd expect it to work.

    There's also a "dark tung oil" available from Real milk paint, which has a "resinous hydrocarbon" dye in it that they claim to be food safe, and is otherwise pure tung oil, which is likely even more food safe than a generic product sold as "butcher block oil".

  2. Expert Member
    Akos | | #2

    Lot of the darker Ikea butcher blocks come with pre-stained. There are a number of FDA approved stain+oils out there, I would just use one of those.

    It will make it harder to re-oil down the road as you might need to strip most of the color before re-applying the oil, a lighter colour would be less trouble.

  3. Ian_Schwandt | | #3

    I have had good luck using Rubio Monocoat to stain butcher blocks and other wood countertops. It is a natural finish that cures completely. More info about food contact applications is available on the companies FAQ page.

  4. walta100 | | #4

    Stain is good if you understand the stain is on the surface if you use the counter top as a chopping block or cutting board you are likely to expose the raw wood.

    As a food safe finish I like Mike Mahoney walnut oil it is eatable, and processed to remove all allergens. It is a drying oil so it becomes a solid over time non drying oil will go rancid and smell bad. Yes this oil on rags will spontaneously combust and start a fire.

    The beauty of an oil finish, is that you and add another coat without striping or sanding.


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