Cedar wood is famous for most woodworking applications because of its aromatic smell and visual appeal. Cedar wood is mainly used in clothing storage furniture, shingles, and in musical instruments (guitars), and paneling. But is cedar good for cutting boards?
Here’s what I know from years of working with cedar wood:
Cedar isn’t good for cutting boards. Cedar is too soft to use as a cutting board. I never recommend cedar for cutting boards which are used to cut food with a knife, because cut marks will be very deep and hard to clean. Also, cedar oil could be toxic as well. It’s probably not a good idea to use cedar for cutting boards.
But that’s just a quick snapshot. There are some types of cedar woods that are non-toxic and people use them for cutting boards. We’ll discuss what are they and why is it good with the advantages and disadvantages of using them.
So, in this article, we’ll take a deeper look into cedar cutting boards and answer a few questions such as:
- Advantages and disadvantages of using cedar for cutting boards
- Why cedar wood cutting boards are toxic to humans?
- Why cedar too soft for cutting boards?
- Red cedar as a cutting board?
- Better woods for cutting boards than cedar
Let’s get going!
Pros and Cons of using Cedar for Cutting Boards
After years of working with cedar wood and researching, here are some advantages and disadvantages of using cedar as a cutting board or as kitchen utensils.
|Advantages of Cedar cutting boards||Disadvantages of cedar cutting boards|
|Beautiful and Looks better||Cedar oil is toxic if they contact with food|
|Absorb water quickly and gives less time for bacteria to survive||Too soft for cutting board|
|They are cheaper||Cedar odor can get into the foods|
|warp and rot-resistant||Cedar produces wood slivers in your food|
|Poisonous to bugs||Cedar tannins might darken your fingers and add unpleasant flavor.|
|Brittle (Can break easily)|
Ultimately you can see that Cedar cutting boards are good only because they look beautiful. Not good for food applications.
I have mentioned the toxicity of cedar wood. Let’s discuss why they are toxic?
Why Cedar Cutting Boards are Toxic to Humans?
Cedar wood has its own aromatic oils and toxic compounds to survive in the jungle from bacteria. Because of that cedar wood is poisonous to bugs. When we use cedar cutting boards, the wood is continuously in contact with vegetables, fruits, and meat we eat. We cannot ignore this as a small amount because we use cutting boards daily, which can be poisonous to humans with the use of more and more.
If cedar oil goes inside the human body it can be irritating to our respiratory system with the inhalation of sufficient concentrations. This can cause a runny nose, asthma, etc. The same issues occur with the inhalation of cedar dust when sanding or sawing cedar wood before making a cutting board.
Now you can come up with a question, But All wood dust is risky right? The answer is yes. All wood dust is not good for the human respiratory system, but the damage done by aromatic oil containing woods like cedar is higher than other wood types. To reduce the risk always wear goggles and a good woodworking mask when making cedar cutting board.
Also, because they are way too soft, the knife cut marks will be there forever. Also, an end-grain cedar will “heal” itself with use. But, because they are too soft, the bacteria getting into the pores. As a result, when we are using cedar cutting board, the bacteria trapped in pores will get a chance to contact with the food, which can be dangerous to humans and for the dogs, cats we pet.
I had some supervisors in the workshop today as I glued up two more practice pieces. My first end grain cutting board and a red cedar keepsake box. #practicemakesperfect #woodworking pic.twitter.com/ikZYUPiEuO— GhostGoneMad🇭🇲 (@GoneMadGaming) December 27, 2019
Why Cedar Too Soft for Cutting Boards?
Cedar is a softwood. It is weak and has pretty much low strength compared to maple, which is widely used for cutting boards. Because of being way too soft the cutting marks of the knife will be very deep and will be very hard to clean.
The following values show numerical values to get an idea about how soft cedar wood is especially for cutting boards, which always have a deal with sharp metals like knives.
- Stiffness – 1.11 Mpsi
- Strength – 7500 psi
- Hardness – 4560 psi
The stiffness, strength, and hardness of cedar wood are very much lower compared to other wood types which use for cutting boards. The strength and stiffness of most common wood types compared to cedar wood are well discussed with numbers. (click to read my article).
Because of being too soft, cedar cutting boards will not last log as a maple board. Cedar cutting boards are very brittle, Drop it once but probably not twice.
Red Cedar as a Cutting Board?
Red cedar is the most common cedar type that use to make cutting boards. Why red cedar is so special than other types of cedar woods. Because red cedar is beautiful with fine even texture and cutting boards are smooth, soft and most importantly, most of Red cedar cutting boards are safe for food. It gives nice look to the kitchen. Their stability is also high. It can last 30-40 years with minimal maintenance.
Red cedar is also a softwood, but because of its use as a cabinet wood, red cedar grade according to hardwood standards. They have excellent gluing properties, goof fastening properties than other cedar wood types. Also, red cedar cutting boards are resistible to extreme cold and heat very well. The lifetime of red cedar cutting boards is higher compared to other cedar cutting boards. Red cedar cutting boards have a decent amount of qualities than other cedar cutting boards and they are inexpensive as well. You can buy $1.50 per board foot.
Better Woods for Cutting Boards than Cedar
There are lots of wood types that have so much better qualities than cedar for cutting boards. By selecting those woods, you will face no issues as you faced in cedar cutting boards. They have higher strength and non-toxic as well. Let’s discuss Top 3 wood types for cutting boards which you can go directly skipping cedar wood. They are,
- Maple – This is the most common wood (The Best) for cutting boards. Light in color and gives a natural attractive look as same as cedar cutting boards. Specially maple cutting boards are very much harder than cedar boards and will not scratch easily with knives. The small porosity leads to prevent bacteria attachment and safer for the food. The only issue you will face with maple cutting board rather than using cedar cutting board is maple board need little maintenance once a month because it tends to show stains easily. Honestly, that’s not an issue with the advantages we can get from the maple cutting board. You will receive Higher durability, Higher strength, Hard, and much more using maple rather than cedar cutting board.
- Beech – The hardness of cutting boards is higher and you don’t need to worry about water absorbance and it getting warped. It keeps the water out. Beech cutting boards have scratch and impact resistance. This board is also having small porosity which can prevent bacteria and keep the food safe. Most importantly it is getting attractive over years by getting a reddish tint. The only downgrade you will get from beech cutting boards rather than the cedar board is the beech board shrink over time. This can prevent by proper conditioning or with a stain-resistant coating.
- Walnut – Don’t you like the shrinkage of cutting boards? Then walnut is the best option because walnut cutting boards do not shrink. Have a stunning appearance over the years. Need good maintenance than cedar cutting boards. The main downside is they tend to keep dents and knife marks. Walnut cutting boards are durable than cedar boards but not as maple boards.
Did we answer your questions about: Is Cedar Good for Cutting Boards?
In this post, we reviewed the pros and cons of using cedar cutting boards and why I do not recommend using cedar wood for cutting boards.
We looked at why cedar woods are way too soft for cutting woods and what qualities they have to become toxic to humans. Why red cedar cutting boards are more popular than other cedar boards. Also, we have discussed better alternatives we can use for cedar cutting boards. And what makes them specialized for cutting boards and much more.
Any tips, suggestions, or questions?