Did you know your cutting boards could be shedding tons of microplastics? Make the switch to non toxic cutting boards today! Here’s why: Phthalates are known hormone disruptors and the plasticizers in plastic – from food and drinkware, food storage, shower curtains, toys, vinyl tubing, car tires, it’s just everywhere, and it doesn’t break down in landfills. Thus, microplastics are everywhere. And finally my husband and I realized…. Microplastics are in our food! 

On my mission to go mostly plastic free, I truly overlooked something so basic in my kitchen that we use multiple times a day. And that comes in contact with our food! 

Our cutting boards are shedding microplastics into our food everyday! So we did it. We finally made the switch to non toxic cutting boards and we are never looking back. So let’s dive into the best non toxic cutting boards!

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Table of Contents

What are the best non toxic cutting boards?

It’s not a very long list actually – it’s really come down to Wood and Bamboo! I’ll go into more detail on the benefits below! 

Best overall pick for non toxic cutting board: solid hard wood – free of any glues/adhesives/finishes

Runner up for best non toxic cutting board: bamboo – that uses food-safe non toxic adhesives 

Wood and bamboo cutting boards we started using

What to look for when picking a wood cutting board: 

Best wood for cutting board

Solid hardwood is the most durable! 

Maple and walnut seem like popular options, I also see cherry, teak, beech and acacia used. 

Avoid olive wood as it is very hard and may dull knives quickly. Reserve your beautiful olive wood pieces for charcuterie boards instead! 

Be cautious with wood glues and finishes

Look for boards that use food safe glues. Apparently some of the glues used can have formaldehyde in them, which we know is a cancerous material, which we certainly don’t want leaching into our foods! 

Also go for boards that are not finished with any sort of polyurethane finish or wood stains so that it’s again free of any carcinogenic compounds. These finishes and stains are definitely not something you want to be cutting on regularly and consuming! 

What non toxic wood cutting board did I switch to?

The wood cutting board we have is definitely glued together. It was a fancy gift for our wedding, and I think it was handmade by someone. I have no idea on the glue components. Because I don’t see any glue residue anywhere, I’m okay using this, as I feel this is still safer than the plastic I was likely eating daily. I also want to trust that whomever made it would have used a food safe glue. 

So again, I like to say we’re living on the clean-ish side. I feel that switching to wood or bamboo far outweighs the risks of known endocrine disrupting plastics, and in the future when I go to purchase another board, I’ll look for solid ones that don’t have anything glued together. Or I will make sure that the company or person making the boards is using food-safe adhesives.

Close up of our wood cutting board

What to look for when picking a bamboo cutting board: 

Bamboo cutting boards are likely always glued. Similar to the hardwood cutting board, you want to look for food safe glues that are formaldehyde free. 

Here’s why: If you think of what bamboo looks like, it’s definitely not able to be just cut into a cutting board. They have to be more molded and glued together to make them into the larger sizes available. 

What type of bamboo cutting board did I switch to?

To be honest, I just grabbed whatever I saw at Whole Foods and didn’t even think about this, and I am assuming my small bamboo board definitely has some glue. I’ll have to see if I can find out more on that! Like above, I still think this is much safer than the plastic we were using, and I am trusting that Whole Foods would only carry brands that use food safe glues! If I can find out anything else here I will let you all know! 

Bamboo cutting board we’re using

What’s wrong with plastic cutting boards? 

I’ll be the first one to say it, I’m so late to the non-toxic cutting board game. We literally have been using plastic cutting boards in our home since we moved in 5 years ago, and since before that even! I can’t believe in my journey to go mostly plastic-free, this was so blatantly overlooked on my part! 

Microplastics in our food??

My husband Mike and I recently learned that studies found microplastic shedding in our food from our cutting boards! Think about how many times per day you use your cutting boards – between prepping toddler lunches every morning to cutting fruit at lunch and prepping meat and veggies for dinner…it’s a lot in my home for sure. It’s really almost every meal. That can add up to a TON of microplastic shedding over time. 

What did we do with our current cutting boards?

Mike brought this to my attention and I saw this photo that had little plastic shavings all over the knife. I immediately told him we had to toss our plastic cutting boards, and in a ceremonial procession, he brought them straight outside to the trash bin. There’s a video on my instagram, it really happened! So instead, we’ve been using our fancy wood one that we had gotten as a gift for our wedding. We had initially thought it was for decoration, little did we know it’s quite a beautiful cutting board! Then I bought that cute little bamboo one for $5 at Whole Foods and we haven’t looked back. And we don’t miss the plastic either! 

Not to mention, the plastic cutting boards show signs of wear and tear pretty quickly especially when you use really sharp knives! The grooves can get worse over time, and make it harder to clean out bacteria that can get stuck deep in them. Yuck! 

Here’s some of the research on microplastics in our cutting boards:

A study published in the journal of Environmental Science & Technology in June 2023, estimated that the per-person annual exposure was  7.4-50.7 g of microplastics from a polyethylene chopping board and 49.5 g of microplastics from a polypropylene chopping board. This is the equivalent of 10 plastic credit cards! Whoa! 

They further estimated that a person could be exposed to 14.5 to 71.9 million polyethylene microplastics annually, versus 79.4 million polypropylene microplastics from chopping boards. The amount varied based on type of food chopped and cutting styles. (Source: PMID: 37220346). This warrants further studying of course, but the initial shock that so much microplastic exposure could be from an everyday cutting board in the kitchen is quite alarming. 

Per the Environmental Working Group (EWG) article published also this year (2023), microplastics are of growing concern between car tires, water bottle caps, and cutting boards as well. There have been animal studies that have shown microplastic exposure can lead to weakened immune systems, fertility issues, behavioral changes and developmental delays.

Benefits of wood cutting boards 

  • No plastic of course! So no risk of microplastics coming off in your food!
  • Natural, and super long lasting with proper care
  • Safer for your knives, especially if you have some fancy ones – wood won’t dull them. 
  • Some reports say that wood cutting boards are naturally antibacterial. 

Benefits of bamboo cutting boards

  • Also no plastic of course! 
  • Also natural and super long lasting with proper care
  • Bamboo is a little bit harder and more durable than traditional wood cutting boards. 
  • May resist scratching and knife marks a little bit better than wood
  • Less absorbing that regular wood, might harness less bacteria growth as well 
  • Lighter weight than the hard wood cutting boards

Are there other options for non toxic and plastic free cutting boards?

Yes, there definitely are! Here are the other types I found, and why they didn’t make my top picks:

  • Glass: this is a great surface to perhaps prep and serve food on and definitely super easy to keep clean. However, they are absolutely terrible for you knives! 
  • Stone cutting boards/Marble cutting boards: Again, I’m sure they are beautiful and also relatively easy to keep clean, but reserve these for serving food on! These are seriously horrible for your knives as well! 
  • Composite cutting boards such as composite “bamboo” and “paper” or “Epicurian” cutting boards: these could contain a ton of glue and resin to put them together. These glues could contain formaldehyde, so again you need to see if the company discloses that they use food-safe glues. Either way, this wouldn’t be as great an option due to the resins and glues in my opinion. 
  • Rubber cutting boards: Made from 100% rubber – these are supposed to be easy on knives and favored by chefs, although I’m picturing something wobbly and not sure how it dries or is stored. It’s probably not as wobbly as I am imagining. But in looking for 100% rubber options, I’m seeing a few synthetic rubber options and not sure if those end up falling into a plastic cousin category. I’m trying to do more research on this!

How to clean your wood and bamboo cutting boards

Per the USDA Food and Inspection service, they recommend hot soapy water, then letting air dry completely or drying with a paper towel/towel and letting air dry. 

I usually let our wood and bamboo cutting boards air dry standing up tilted against the backsplash or if you have a drying rack, that would work too. That way they dry completely instead of letting water sit on them in places which would, in my mind, let bacteria thrive in a moist environment. 

Additional healthy cutting board tips

  • Wash your cutting boards with hot soapy water after each use
  • Consider having separate boards for meat/fish/poultry and another for your produce. This can help reduce risk of cross contamination. Although, we mix and match right now since we only have one large board until we get another! 

Caring for your non toxic cutting boards 

You have to oil your boards! 

Why? Regular oiling of your wood and bamboo cutting boards makes them:

  • Resist staining
  • Repel water better
  • Help prevent cracks and splintering 
  • Might help deter bacteria growth  

What type of oil is traditionally recommended? 

Mineral oil is traditionally recommended for cutting boards 

Why I won’t be using mineral oil to care for my non toxic wood cutting boards: 

Mineral oil is what I have seen traditionally recommended to care for wood and bamboo cutting boards. However, mineral oil is something that is a petroleum based product – and in my opinion there are cleaner options available. Mineral oil harbors risk of being contaminated with Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are carcinogenic compounds found in crude oil and gasoline.

I wrote more about this in my 11 Alternatives to Aquaphor and Petroleum Jelly post here.

Basically, we are already exposed to so many PAHs regularly between exhaust from cars, and grills, cigarette smoke and more. Carcinogenicity is well established in lab animals, and chronic occupational exposure in humans may be associated with increased incidence of some cancers (source)

What non toxic oils and waxes are available out there? 

Since I just started using wood and bamboo, I haven’t actually purchased any oil or wax yet. So I’ve been really interested in what else is out there besides mineral oil to use for my non toxic cutting boards!  

Here is what I have found that look like great options for non toxic cutting board maintenance:

  • Real Milk Paint Co. Cutting Board Oil
    • They have a great informational blurb on why they chose NOT to use food grade mineral oil in their cutting board oil. I love that they included all of the information! 
    • Ingredients: Cold pressed Grapefruit seed oil, RPSO-Certified Palm-fruit oil, Refined Almond Oil, Rice bran wax, Hemp floral wax. 
    • Certified vegetable based
  • Empire Squid Organics Board Butter
    • Small family run business that makes body and home products from super clean ingredients! Love that they also are mineral oil free! 
    • Ingredients: virgin coconut oil* walnut oil, beeswax* (or candelilla wax for vegan selections), lemon essential oil* and vitamin E.     *certified organic
  • Bambu Bamboo and Wood Nourishing Oil
    • Ingredients: Special Aged Linseed Oil, Pure Tung Oil, and Pure Beeswax
    • They also have a gorgeous array of safely glued bamboo cutting boards 
  • Roostmade Organic Wood Oil 
    • Handmade in California using organic ingredients. 
    • Ingredients: organic beeswax, organic carnauba wax, organic walnut oil, organic lavender essential oil, organic wild orange essential oil.
    • They also have this awesome wood care kit with a coconut fiber brush, the oil, the wax, sanding block and organic cotton pads! 

How often do you oil your non toxic cutting boards (wood and bamboo)? 

  • Most of the research I have done says mainly to oil when your boards are looking dry! So, pay attention to the look of the board. If it’s looking dull, you might want to use that oil! 
  • Some say also every 3-4 weeks or so, which to me means once a month should be good! 

Are wood and bamboo cutting boards dishwasher safe? 

It seems the general consensus is to NOT put these in the dishwasher. It appears best practice is to wash with hot soapy water, and let dry – we prefer to let dry upright so that water doesn’t sit on the wood long and create any moist areas for bacteria to stick around. 

What are some brands of non toxic cutting boards to try? 

For Bamboo:

I checked a few from Amazon as well, if I couldn’t find a website to vet that they use a food-safe glue/adhesive, then I left them off this list. 

For example, a couple brands like HiWare and Daniks show up in the top search for bamboo cutting boards on Amazon, but I can’t find a website that tells me anything about the glue used. 

Brands I checked out that seem great: 

  • Bambu Cutting Boards – these are all firstly beautiful, secondly they disclose that “each board is constructed using a water-based, food-grade adhesive imported from Europe that contains no formaldehyde. They are then hand finished with food-safe wood oil.” I also linked their bamboo board oil above – looks great to me! 
  • Greener Chef Bamboo cutting boards – these also appear to be formaldehyde free and love that they are available in SO MANY SIZES! 
    Totally Bamboo Cutting Boards – per their website they are designed in California and they have tons of fun shapes and designs – and they disclose that they use food-grade adhesive as well.

For Wood:

As long as it’s one nice solid piece of wood, without any stains and polyurethanes, I’m honestly fine with any of them. If it’s fancy and has a design like ours does, and it’s glued together, just check that food-safe glue is used. 

Final thoughts 

So far I am totally happy using our wood and bamboo cutting boards! I learned a lot doing this post because I really didn’t know the other options available for cutting boards and how to care for them! I am excited to get one of these wood oils to use as our boards are already looking quite dull and I want to keep them nice for as long as possible! I’ll have to report back on which oil I get! Stay tuned!m

What type of cutting board do you have and love? What oil if any do you use? 

xo- Sarah