Decor home decor

Why my butcher block countertops and mineral oil are getting a divorce

I know. You’re sitting there thinking “Is she seriously writing another post about her butcher block countertops?” Consider me your science experiment. No really. Take my mistakes and trial and errors and learn from them, so you don’t have to go through all of this with your counters.

If this is the first time you’re here, may I suggest reading my first two posts on the subject of butcher blocks.

Adventures in Staining Butcher Block  – This where I talk about our previous IKEA butcher block countertops. I go over various ways of staining them, using Dark Tung Oil, why it didn’t work for our kitchen and link to about 10 other posts from bloggers using different things for their butcher blocks.

What it’s really like having a Butcher Block counter top – This is where I talk about our second and current set of butcher block countertops from Lumber Liquidators. I go over all of the Pros and Cons and the reality that comes with having them in your kitchen to help you decide if they’re right for your kitchen.

And this is the post where I finally give up on mineral oil as my preferred method of treating my countertops and explain why I switched to Fusion Beeswax Finish. I was first introduced to Beeswax as a treatment method by Old Town Home and Sarah from the Ugly Duckling House. They both use different products but both use a combination of an oil with a beeswax on it.

For a long time I thought mineral oil was enough. And to tell you the truth, with the lighter IKEA countertops, it really isn’t a bad choice still. But when we got the new counter tops here, the walnut wood which is obviously darker with more colour variation, changed that completely.

Here is a very candid photo of what your butcher block can possibly l look like after daily use *IF* you don’t properly maintain it. I am talking strictly for those of you using an oil, not those of you who have sealed with a polyurethane style sealant.

Coffee spills. Patches of wood drying out. Food and flour being sifted into the grain. Water marks. Etc. On dark wood, this shows up WAY more than the light wood. It’s the same as your floors. Dark wood shows every speck of dust on the planet. Light wood, is a lot more forgiving.

So I was fed up with how quickly our walnut butcher block was drying out and looking blotchy that I started looking into other solutions. I’ve debated on using Waterlox but I am not there yet. If I get there, I’ll write another post and then you can really question why I have butcher block counters to begin with. I came across Fusion’s Beeswax products through my friend Laurie from Vinyet Etc. who is a big fan of the product. I figure why not? Let’s try it.

This is the best side by side photo I could get where I could see the wax line and the messy dried out part. Wax is very subtle and you have rub it onto the counters in a circular motion, then it starts to do it’s thing. This was the first run at the wax.

Fusion Beeswax is made of 100% pure beeswax and hemp oil. That’s it. It’s food safe, which is very important to me because I cook a lot and food is all over our counter tops during baking marathons. But it also leaves a matte finish which is one of the reasons I have not used a polyurethane finish. I am not a fan of shiny wood counters, furniture, floors, you name it.

What did it look like after I finished applying it?

Well…

Those photos are the exact same parts of my counter top as the first series of photos. Just with the beeswax on it. Game changing.

I did wait a month before I wrote this post so I could live with it and see how it held up and how well it cured. Here are some things I learned.

  • You can still get water rings (this happened more towards the end of the month) but that happens on any surface, wood or otherwise.
  • You will need to do spot touch up and reapply in high traffic use areas of your butcher block (i.e. around the sink where water tends to gather)
  • It is very durable and almost unaffected by scrubbing. I use my scouring pads on my counters to remove dried up tomato sauce and the spot still stayed the same shade as before. I still feel water is a butcher block counters worse enemy because my scouring pads don’t affect my counter tops as much as water does. Fusion’s paint line is also very good at holding up against scouring pads and I can attest to that because I painted our old kitchen cabinets with it.
  • The colour is still vastly more rich than it was using the mineral oil and stayed that way for the month. With repeated treatments (you should treat your counter tops at least once a month to keep them in good condition) I can only see this product making them better over time.
  • The best benefit was the lack of greasy feeling. Mineral oil even after sinking it, can leave a residue so that if you put a piece of paper on your counters, it will seep through it and leave oil spots on the paper. With this, there were touches of that, but nowhere near as oily as the mineral oil.
  • It’s a very smooth matte finish that really makes the wood tones pop.

That means, for now, I am divorcing my mineral oil in favour of Fusion Beeswax finish. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments. You can purchase Fusion Beeswax directly from Fusion Mineral Paint’s site or look up their retailer list to find a retailer near you. Better yet, go visit Laurie’s site and ask her what she thinks of it. I owe this find to her.

25 Comments

  • Reply
    Sarah | The Ugly Duckling House
    November 17, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Your counters look beautiful! I’ve been rethinking my own counters for when I resell (I love the look of my beeswax/oil but I’m not convinced the next owner will appreciate the maintenance, and I don’t put food directly on them when I’m cutting food, so I want something that will harden the wood itself). Still juggling my options!

    • Reply
      Alex
      November 17, 2017 at 10:46 pm

      It’s a little crazy how much maintenance they require. I want a product to have that matte look but waterproof it at the same time. I’ve used stains like those on different wood projects and inevitably one area always wear down and you have to reapply. Then it’s patchy and you have to wind up sanding etc etc. I do like that the Beeswax does help the wood grain retain that variation and deep tone longer. So I completely get where you’re coming from.

  • Reply
    sylvia
    November 23, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    great post! you can talk about your butcher block counters all day in my opinion–i’m learning so much! we’ve just recently installed our counters and i am using the beeswax/mineral oil product as recommended by your references above. thanks! i was wondering what you do for daily upkeep? do you use any cleaners for the regular use/abuse of your counters?

    • Reply
      Alex
      November 23, 2017 at 5:40 pm

      Daily upkeep is really easy. I just use whatever cleaner I have on hand. I think the best tip (and I realize this may be common sense) is don’t use paper towels. I mean you can, but running it over wood is not that…umm, convenient? Paper shredding. I do try to polish them with the Beeswax/oil once a month but I’ll be honest I often forget. Until I get fed up with how dry the wood looks and go “Nope. This can’t happen.” I may be a year away from using a polyurathane finish on them but I can’t find anything that I trust not to wear down in certain spots and then have to sand and refinish. I will say the longer I have the counters, the more character they develop.

      • Reply
        sylvia
        November 27, 2017 at 12:19 am

        phew! i am thankful for your ‘cest la vie’ perspective. your easy-going attitude has been really helping me let go of my constant worry!

  • Reply
    Julie
    December 29, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    You’re hilarious!

  • Reply
    Nicole Ostertag
    March 28, 2018 at 9:05 pm

    So what should I use to wipe down counters then when I clean up? Just a wash cloth with soap and water or a cleaner like you recommended?! And the water will break down the look overtime but not ruin them? Also–how is it holding up around your sink? Lastly–I haven’t commented on your blog before–how do I know when you respond? Otherwise I sent my email ! Thank you so much for so many great tips to read!

    • Reply
      Alex
      March 29, 2018 at 4:27 pm

      Once you sand then and oil them, use beeswax or protect them in the way you see fit, they should be fairly easy to wipe with paper towels and a cleaner. BUT for me personally, rags and dishcloths I find always just work better.

      I’ve sprayed ours with everything from natural cleaners to Lysol to soap and water to really deep clean. Hot water always works. Imagine cleaning a wood cutting board. It’s exactly the same.

      The area around our sink is great! But that’s due in part to the sink we chose where the IKEA DOMSJO sink doesn’t have the faucet going directly into the wood. Only the edges of the sink attach to the wood. Even then, absolutely no problems at all and I am not careful with wiping up water on time and so forth. That’s with these counters from Lumber Liquidators. I have a link in here that shares our experience with the IKEA ones and the faucet mounted into the butcher block – that didn’t work as well. So the butcher block counts and how you protect it counts.

      In terms of my reply, it should show up as soon as I press reply on this comment in your In Box. If it doesn’t, let me know and I’ll have my tech guy take a look at it as I should have it set up for notifications that way.

      Any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

  • Reply
    Laura
    May 16, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    Hello, very much enjoyed your insights. I am putting in new butcherblock countertops as we speak… I thought they would look beautiful… apparently most websites your read regarding the product don’t bother to point out the pitfalls of this?? Now im nervous 🙂 So do I oil them before starting the beeswax? What order of things do you recommend? Thank you

    • Reply
      Alex
      May 17, 2018 at 9:27 am

      Sand the whole surface first to get rid of any jagged or rough edges. Then use Oil for about a week, every evening to condition it. Then Beeswax and Oil as needed. I have found that with repeated coatings of the Beeswax, I don’t have to work as hard or apply as much as I did with the first coat. If you’re totally against dealing with monthly maintenance on it, definitely look into something like Waterlox or Fusion Mineral Paint’s Clear Stain and Finishing Oil (it’s food safe) to coat them once and be done with it. I may be going this route in the future, but for now I don’t mind the Beeswax. Don’t be nervous. We’re going on year 2 with these counters and they just look better and better as they age.

  • Reply
    brianna
    June 20, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    I have just sanded one side of my butcher block counter top and plan to do the whole thing. I’m not super happy with mineral oil and conditioner that I did to my island 6 months ago so looking for something else for the counter top. It’s the first time they have ever been sanded and re-oiled. So in the comments you mention oiling before using this product for a week? Mineral Oil then use the Fusion product?

    • Reply
      Alex
      June 29, 2018 at 11:25 am

      If you haven’t done anything, I would just use the Beeswax first OR Fusion’s Hemp Oil. I found that mineral oil just didn’t soak in and penetrate the wood the way I wanted it to, whereas the Beeswax is mixed with Hemp Oil (Fusion also sells that separately so I would give that a try over mineral oil) and I’ve found the more you apply it, the less you need to over time.

  • Reply
    Sabrina Harvey
    June 24, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    I’m so glad I found this site! I just installed walnut countertops, haven’t moved in yet, have oiled them twice over the last 2 weeks, but have been disappointed in the results. After reading this blog, I think I should 1) sand the countertops, 2) oil them every day for a week, and 3) start using beeswax. Is that what you’d recommend?

    • Reply
      Alex
      June 29, 2018 at 11:28 am

      Yes! Do a light sanding and then wipe any dust residue clean. Then you can go straight to the Beeswax or Fusion’s Hemp Oil. The Beeswax is mixed with the Hemp Oil but you can use it as a stand alone as well. You will find the first time you use the Beeswax, it will take a long time to get everything covered. Then with repeated treatments, it won’t be as often or everywhere, just in places where wear and tear shows up more (think around the sink, or where you place pots and pans). I am toying with the idea of permanently sealing it with SFO (Fusion’s Stain and Finishing oil) in a Clear coat. But when and if I get to that, I’ll write another post and then I’ll really be the crazy butcher block lady.

      • Reply
        mltwom
        July 7, 2018 at 8:05 pm

        What grit sand paper? Then wipe clean. Then use the beeswax every night for a wk? What did you use to apply the beeswax-what kind of cloth etc? I also think somewhere it said apply in circular motion? How long before i can put stuff on the counter after the week of waxing?

        • Reply
          Alex
          July 8, 2018 at 12:01 pm

          I would use a light/fine grit sandpaper as most of the butcher block is already fairly smooth, you’d just need a light sanding to remove any little pieces of wood with the goal of making it smooth.

          Had I just gotten these counters today, I would have used Hemp Oil every evening for a week (though you may not even need a week as it is very rich) to fully penetrate the butcher block. Then I would use the beeswax on my final day. Then beeswax monthly or as needed after. You’ll know when it needs a new coat as areas will start to appear spotty on the places you use the counter the most. I didn’t use any fancy cloths, just old facecloths. Circular motion is good as it’s good for buffing but my counters are so long that towards the end I was like “Ok are we done yet?” so I don’t even remember what direction I was applying it.

          I wait less than a day before I put everything back on and I usually apply in the evening so that it gets a night to dry and then I put them back on the next morning.

          IF you go with mineral oil, you will find that the oil residue will still be there days after. That is, if you lay down a newspaper or paper towel, it will soak through. So don’t leave any papers you don’t want ruined on a freshly coated counter top. The beeswax will have a very different coat feel than the other oils and honestly, it’s not for everyone. Some people just prefer the hemp oil on it’s own, while others like the finish the beeswax offers.

          • Michelle
            July 8, 2018 at 12:42 pm

            Thank you so much for the info! I appreciate it!

  • Reply
    becca
    July 2, 2018 at 1:05 am

    Just read all your butcher block diaries! I laughed, I cried and now my head hurts from all this education! So thank you for chronicling your experience for all us newbies 🙂 SO- question you may be able to help direct me in. I’m kind of drawn to lighter woods, and our contractor wants to use MAPLE… i know you mentioned every wood is so different and all your great results with WALNUT. Any resources you know of that would address the differences? Meh, in the end I can’t help but agree wood just looks so amazing! But now I’m toying with considering WALNUT. Thanks in advance! (can’t wait to read your post on SFO when you finally cave : )

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 5, 2018 at 6:26 pm

      You’re asking the wrong person. LOL! I love Maple – it’s one of my favourite wood species, especially for floors as I love the grain. Honestly, it’s a matter of the look that you want for your colour cabinet. We didn’t do maple with black here because it felt a little too orange with the black and as much as I love Halloween, that’s not what we’re going for with this kitchen. So Walnut was a no brainer. Had I done white I would have no issues using a lighter wood. Every wood also has a different strength to it (Pine for example dings really easily) whereas Beech or Maple is really tough. We have a 20+ year old bar cart made from Maple that has been left outside during Canadian winters and it’s like nothing has gone near it. Also remember, you can stain your wood to the colour that you’d like but then you have to make sure you see what that particular species of wood looks like with that stain.

      The SFO…oh that’s coming. I legitimately laughed so hard when I read that because I am currently staring at the counter tops like do I really want to oil these again?

  • Reply
    Jacquelyn Hazelton
    July 8, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    I just had cherry countertop and island top installed a little over a week ago. I’ve. Been. A psycho. Water spots are going to kill me. The fusion beeswax finish arrived in the mail and I’m going to apply it today based on your recommendation, wish me luck!

  • Reply
    Deb Woollen
    July 19, 2018 at 10:36 pm

    Thanks for all this information. I am thinking of butcher block counters. Im wondering if that oil stain product you mention would be good. I plan to use the butcher block to prep food on and was hoping to not use cutting boards. Help!

    • Reply
      Alex
      July 24, 2018 at 12:34 pm

      Do you mean the SFO (Stain and Finishing Oil)? That is not food safe that I know of. Your best bet is honestly Hemp Oil or the Beeswax or one that is a mixture of both. There are food safe stains on the market but it really depends on the finish you want for your counters, as a lot of the ones that you can stain and leave alone, leave a sheen that *I* personally don’t like the look of but others don’t mind at all.

      • Reply
        Patti
        August 4, 2018 at 12:14 am

        I just applied my 4th coat of mineral oil on my new butcher block countertops. I am not happy with the process so far. Mainly the oily feel even after I buff them with a soft rag. What do I do now if I want to go with the beeswax method? Do I need to sand then now before applying the beeswax?

        • Reply
          Alex
          August 5, 2018 at 7:10 pm

          That’s one of the reason I stopped using it too. I just couldn’t stand how long it took to soak in and it always felt greasy for days after. It never gave me that finish that I wanted. As for the beeswax, you do not have to sand down anything. Just let the mineral oil be and when it’s dried up a bit, apply the beeswax over it. The first time you use it, it will take longer than subsequent applications. I go between the Hemp Oil and the Beeswax depending on how much time I have as both are applied differently. Waxing takes a bit more effort with the buffing.

  • Reply
    Laura
    August 11, 2018 at 3:48 pm

    Thanks so much for the treatise. My dream of butcher block counters is coming true…we just picked them up! I’ve ordered the fusion but it will not be here for a bit. Am I okay to start with mineral oil daily (what I have on hand already) and then switch to fusion in two weeks? I see that you prefer hemp oil to mineral but just to get the conditioning process started will mineral suffice? And will the fusion go over it without problem? Thanks!

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