The other articles on non-toxic cutting boards all contained misinformation on what really is in these different materials.
In this article, I aim to cover all the possible contaminants in the different types of cutting board materials. I have three categories, that start from the purest options to the next best options that do have some minor risks, to options I would not use due to their possible contaminants.
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The Best Non-Toxic Cutting Boards:
1. Solid Wood (One Solid Slab of Wood)
Solid wood is one of the safest materials for a cutting board. One solid slab of wood means we are eliminating glues used which could contain chemicals of concern. They should be regularly conditioned with non-toxic food-safe petroleum-free oil like this cutting board oil or this wood wax.
i. Sapele Wood Cutting Board
This Brosisincorp Cutting Board is one solid piece of Sapele wood with no glues used.
The handle is stainless steel.
It’s been treated with food-grade mineral oil. And to condition it I would recommend this non-toxic petroleum-free oil.
ii. Mahogany Wood Cutting Board
This Luban cutting board is also one solid piece of wood. Mahogany is another dense hardwood that works great for this purpose.
The handle is stainless steel and it’s been treated with linseed oil and beeswax.
2. Tempered Glass
Tempered glass is pure glass and it’s the most inert material that you could use as a cutting board. Those highly sensitive to chemicals or who like the clean look may want to go with glass. It’s highly sanitary and the only downside is that it is harder on knives than wood and other options.
i. Tempered Glass Cutting Board
Hacaroa 4-pack tempered glass cutting board comes with two different sizes, two large cutting boards measure 15.7 x 11.8 inches, two small ones 11.8 x 7.9 inches, perfect for almost any kind of food including meats, breads, fruits, etc.
Shatter resistant, stable, and sturdy according to the reviews. It has rubber feet.
Next Best Options:
1. Polyethylene: Polyethylene is a durable non-toxic plastic that won’t leach or offgas. HDPE (high-density polyethylene) cutting boards are not known to contain BPA or phthalates (source). PE generally does not have an odor or offgas VOCs. This is the safest plastic for cutting boards in my opinion.
The downside for those wanting to go completely non-toxic is there is a possibility of small scratches releasing small particles of plastic. Scratches can also become breeding grounds for bacteria over time (though they can easily be sanitized, most people don’t do this).
2. Paper composite: Epicurean is the most well-known paper composite brand and it’s made from Richlite. This is paper pressed together with phenol-formaldehyde. They are Greenguard Certified for low emissions and I have seen claims from the company that the formaldehyde is no longer present in the final product. I can smell the formaldehyde in Richlite samples, but it did dissipate in a number of weeks. Many others have picked up the smell from these cutting boards and some said it took a month to dissipate.
I have owned one of these cutting boards and I liked it a lot. I’m not against very low levels of formaldehyde. However, those extremely sensitive to offgassing may want to take note. Other brands of paper composite include Elihome, Arcos, and Fordham.
Didn’t Make the List:
1. Polypropylene (PP) cutting boards are another option. PP plastics are not known to contain added BPA or phthalates (source) but they can contain trace contamination of phthalates (source) and that does concern me a little bit. Rigid PP is odorless and does not offgas VOCs. It’s used in many food storage applications (this PP option is the least expensive option in the article).
2. TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) cutting boards are made from a PVC-free plastic. Higher grades do not contain plasticizers like phthalates but they can contain other plasticizers. It’s best to go with hard TPU cutting boards instead of soft flexible ones, though there are still some unknowns here in terms of additives. It is free of bisphenols.
3. Silicone: Silicone usually contains very low amounts of Cadmium which is a contaminant of the colorants or manufacturing process and it can contain Antimony, according to Tamara Rubin, who has tested many silicone products. The levels of these metals are very low so I wouldn’t rule it out completely, but I don’t think it’s technically as good as the other options.
4. Wood that isn’t solid: Wood that isn’t solid (including bamboo cutting boards) has glues in the construction. These glues are normally not disclosed. We can hope they used a water-based food contact-safe glue like Titebond III. However, wood glues (PVA glues) contain a plasticizer, and orthophthalates are still used in some PVA adhesives (Pharos). Other glues could include formaldehyde or epoxy (which contains BPA).
5. Stone: Stone boards are not cutting boards because this is way too hard on knives. They can be used as serving boards. I have a preference for a food-safe non-petroleum-based oil sealer like this Soapstone Sealer.
6. Rubber: Amongst the brands that listed rubber as their material I did not see enough information on the type of rubber to make an assessment.