April 13, 2022

Caring For Wood Utensils

By Bonna Moon
Caring For Wood Utensils
Let's talk about taking care of our favorite wooden kitchen tools. Whether you're warming up a can of soup or cooking from scratch every day, if you spend any time in your kitchen, you're probably using wood pieces like spoons, a cutting board or maybe a pair of those bentwood tongs to grab things from the toaster. You've probably also watched your favorite wooden kitchen tools dry out over time and start looking a little dingy. This is, of course, a natural thing that is to be expected, but luckily it's fairly simple to restore and maintain those tools and pieces. What's even better is that it only takes a few extra minutes of work every month or so and a properly cared for utensil can last for decades.  

Hand-Wash Only

We all know that wood is porous, and it's because of its porosity that when it's exposed to heat, moisture or harsh chemicals it's likely to warp and break or start splintering. That is why there is truly never a time that your wooden pieces should go in the dishwasher. Instead, wash in warm, soapy water with a soft sponge. You can use a scouring pad with light pressure, but do try to avoid anything too coarse. It's easiest to clean as soon after using a wood utensil as possible before any food has the chance to adhere itself or stain the piece. 

Dry Guys

After your wooden pieces have been hand washed, let them air dry completely. Make sure they're sitting upright, if possible, so there is no water pooling anywhere. 

Doing The Upkeep

Let's talk for just a moment about the final step in the process of making a wooden kitchen tool, which is the sanding and sealing. After a piece is lovingly carved or otherwise put together, it gets sanded using sand paper in series from coarse to fine. They're then sealed in a food-safe oil or wax or combination of the two in order to preserve the wood. While these sealants work into the grain of the wood, they do wear off with time and exposure to heat and water, which is why it's so important that the sealant you use be food-safe. We recommend using our Spoon Butter, which is a combination of food-safe oils and waxes that we've found to work wonderfully in protecting our favorite wooden kitchen tools. 

To keep wood pieces looking fresh and to make sure they're in good shape for many years to come, we have to treat a utensil, cutting board, salad bowl, etc. as a tool and acknowledge that tools require maintenance. What this means is that about once a month, or when your tool starts to feel a bit dry, follow these steps for maintaining and sealing your wood pieces: 

1. Wash and dry completely. We don't want to trap any water under the sealant or it could cause mold or warping or poor sealing. 

2. If there are any parts of the piece that look or feel like they could use sanding, take a piece of fine-grit sand paper or a sanding sponge (we recommend 120grit or finer) and lightly sand the area that needs it going with the grain of the wood. This is not something you'll need to do every month and may not ever need doing, but some pieces require it occasionally. Be sure to wash and completely dry it again before you move on. 

3. Using a soft lint-free cloth like microfiber or a dish towel, apply a thin layer of Spoon Butter to the entire piece. It should be enough that it penetrates the wood and moisturizes it but not so much that there's a lot of product sitting on top. There's no harm in using too much necessarily, it's just an unnecessary waste of product. Rub the Spoon Butter in and watch the wood grain come to life! 

4. Let it sit for an hour or so before taking a clean cloth and buffing away any excess. You may use it immediately but the treatment will last longer if you let the pieces sit overnight. 

Other Tips For Care

-Look for pieces that are made of solid wood and/or are made by a reputable craftsperson. Where there are seams, there are opportunities for bacteria to grow if you aren't careful. A reputable craftsperson will be careful to design their pieces in a way that's safe and effective.

-Make sure not to let your wood piece sit in puddles or be submerged for too long to avoid mold, warping or splintering. 

-Use a spoon rest to keep your spoon clean while cooking or serving. 

-Try not to leave your spoon in the pot or pan unnecessarily. The food-safe and flavorless Spoon Butter does slowly wear away and being submerged will make this happen more quickly. It's totally safe and won't effect the flavors of your dish in any way, it will just mean applying Spoon Butter sooner or more often. 

-Don't worry about over-using Spoon Butter! You're much better off overusing it than you would be underusing it. Use your best judgment and try to only apply it when you start to notice a slight dryness happening. 

-Store your wood pieces away from heat and out of direct sunlight, if possible. Both things can cause drying and fading. 

-Also store away from sharp knives or heavy pots and pans to avoid getting them nicked.