Easy Sanitation and Maintenance Practices for Wooden Handle Kitchen Knives

April 29, 2021

Experienced cooks know the importance of high-quality chef knives. Among the best knives that you can find in a store are those with handles made of wood. The combination of stainless steel blade and polished wood is very light and lends a stylish touch to your kitchen space. 

While this kitchen tool is incredibly durable and versatile in cutting and slicing your ingredients, it can be damaged with incorrect maintenance practices. As a result, the wooden handle cracks, rots, and splinters.

To take care of your knife’s wooden handle, purchase a handle with a stabilized wood. You can quickly identify a stabilized wooden handle if a type of resin has been applied to the wooden material. This resin reinforces your knife handle by filling in any cracks, holes, or pores, reducing the chances of warping that result in the aforementioned damages.

On the other hand, non-stabilized wood does not have any coating or protection on them. Thus, non-stabilized knife handles have a much shorter life span since they have a higher chance of swelling and cracking. 

Non-stabilized knives are rare to find in retail stores, but some kitchen utility shops still sell them, often at a lower price, for cash-strapped and natural wood-loving cooks out there. Compared to a non-stabilized knife handle, a stabilized knife handle almost looks like a plastic handle because of the resin, but many would still prefer to use it because of its practicality.

Now that you know all these, you might ask: how difficult could it be to take care of wooden handle kitchen knives? In this article, we will discuss how having a kitchen wooden handle knife benefits you, how to sanitize it, and how you can maintain it to make it last a lifetime.

Why Choose a Wooden Handle?

Getting a kitchen knife set with a wooden handle is one of the wisest decisions you can make for both your skin and your culinary skills. This type of handle for knives has been used for centuries, proving its reliability as a kitchen utensil.

So, why should you choose a wooden handle above other options? The benefits include its convenience, affordability, durability, and gorgeous aesthetic. 

If you have some experience in cooking, you’d be delighted to learn that the best kitchen knife set when arranging a feast is the kind with a wooden handle. It comes with an excellent slip-proof feature that prevents you from losing your grip on the knife while you cut or chop. It is super comfortable with its predominantly ergonomic fit that aids you in making precise cuts.

Aside from that, a wooden handle is cheaper in comparison to other types of material such as steel. The best part about a wooden handle’s affordability is that it compromises neither the quality of the knife nor your performance as you use it. 

Another aspect which you must consider is the sturdiness of wooden handles. As long as you know how to properly use and care for your kitchen knives, it is guaranteed to last for a lifetime. This longevity is one of the main reasons why many people purchase a knife with this kind of handle.

Lastly, a wooden knife handle adds appeal and character to your kitchen and slicing style. If you were to snap a photo of your knife with a wooden handle next to a couple of freshly sliced fruits and veggies, you would be in awe of the earthly and natural feel of it. To make it more personalized, a unique text, logo, or design can be carved onto a wood handle knife set, in contrast with regular steel that requires a pricey engraving.

You won’t get enough of a wood handle kitchen knife set because it is every chef’s classic choice. There are three types of wood commonly used for this fine class of kitchen knives: rosewood, ebony wood, and Olneya tesota wood. 

Whatever it is that you choose, you’ll surely enjoy keeping a knife with a wooden handle. Now, the next thing you need to contemplate is how you can keep a wood handle chef knife spotless while ensuring its quality does not deteriorate over time.

Sanitizing Your Wooden Handle Knives

Contrary to popular belief, cleaning your knives’ wooden handles is not as complicated as it seems. What matters is that you execute the correct sanitation procedure to extend your wooden handle’s life span. To make your life easier, we have summarized the techniques which you can apply in your kitchen. 

Taking care of a kitchen knife wooden handle requires just a bit of your time and commitment. To prevent the wood from drying out, you need to perform this relatively easy task at least once or twice a month.

We all know that wood naturally goes dry no matter how often or how long you use it. Thus, the best solution to restore its quality is by oiling it once in a while. This process will give your wooden handle a fresh new look and prevent cracks from forming. 

Although it is rather simple, one of the things you must keep in mind is that not all types of oil are conducive to the repair of wood handles because many handles are already enhanced with paint or polish. For instance, stabilized wood handles do not require as much oil as non-stabilized wood handles since they have been initially bolstered by resin.

Cleaning Procedure

Now, it is crucial to ask yourself how you must apply oil to your wooden handle. 

It is rather simple to execute. First, grab a clean piece of cloth and add a few drops of oil to it. Afterward, gently wipe the wooden handle with the cloth, making sure that you do not miss a single corner.

Do this until each side is fully covered in oil. Let your kitchen knife sit for a few minutes before wiping the handle with a clean and dry cloth. Observe the result. If you are not satisfied with the saturated appearance of the wood or if you realize that the wood is hardly absorbing the oil, just repeat the previous steps.

Selecting the Oil

If you are wondering what kind of oil would be best for polishing and strengthening your kitchen knives, you are more than welcome to explore your choices. Just remember that each type of oil has its unique set of properties and reacts differently to the wooden surface it comes in contact with. 

Below are the five widely used kinds of oil on wooden handles.

  • Ballistol

One of the most common types of oil used to polish and sanitize wooden handles of knives is Ballistol. Its popularity is deeply rooted in its historical use in cleaning weapons until it has increased in versatility to accommodate rubber, marine equipment, leather, fishing gear, and more. Its specialty is to revive dry wood and prevent the blades of your knife from rusting. 

You can use a Ballistol on all types of wooden handles except the ones that are already painted. Some people love the smell of Ballistol, describing it as somewhat like a “pine forest in a jar.” Since it is labeled as “food-safe,” you are assured that this oil can treat your wooden handle kitchen knives.

  • Eden Essentials

Famous for cleaning wooden cutting boards, this paraffinic oil is capable of sealing your wooden handles as it adds a glossy finish to your knife. If you are particular when it comes to the appearance of your cutting tools, this is a great option for you.

  • Robert Herder

For those who are keen on the scent of their knife handles, Robert Herder maintenance oil does a tremendous job in keeping your knife fragrant. Its components are macadamia oil, which targets the scent of your wooden handle, and lemon zest, used for aromatic disinfection of the steel blades.

  • Danish Oil

For several years, Danish oil has been addressing the problem of wooden handles drying out too quickly. Its mixture consists of tung oil, which deeply penetrates the wood to rejuvenate it. 

While the standard procedure is to let the knife sit for a few minutes before wiping it with a dry piece of cloth, you will notice that it remains smooth and glossy far longer with Danish oil than with the average oil. In this case, you need to deviate from the process and remove the excess Danish oil with a dry piece of cloth so that a lacquer layer will not form.

  • Linseed Oil

As with Danish oil, you need to apply small amounts of linseed oil to create a thin coat. Then, wipe off the excess oil to prevent the formation of lacquer. Take note that you should not allow linseed oil to dry on your knife blade; otherwise, it could get stuck completely like lacquer on a surface.

Do We Recommend Olive Oil?

There have been discussions regarding the application of olive oil in cleaning the wooden handles of kitchen knives. In the short term, it works. The disadvantage of it, however, is that it would start turning old and stale. You would not want that pungent smell lingering in your kitchen, would you? You could only imagine the nauseating experience if you had to do this biweekly. 

Now, we’re going to the maintenance portion of wooden handles. How can you sustain the quality of your knife handle for a long time?

Extending Wooden Handle kitchen knives

Now that you know why maintaining a wooden handle is extremely important for your knife, as well as the necessary steps to execute to sanitize it, making sure that your wooden handles last nearly a lifetime is another topic.

In the previous sections, you learned that wood can dry out regardless if it is being used or not. At the same time, there are particular types of wood that are more susceptible to particular amounts or classifications of oil. 

We make use of oils so that we can see the natural pattern of the wood and increase the handle’s resistance to sudden changes in temperature and humidity. Besides cleaning them with oil, remember these three quick tips to extend the life of your wooden handle kitchen knives.

  1. Never Soak Your Knife in Water

Water will fill the tiny cracks within your wooden handle, leading to irreversible swelling and breakage. By no means do we discourage washing your tools, especially the steel blade. However, we do suggest that you minimize the wooden handle’s contact with water.

  1. Never Place Your Knife in the Dishwasher

High moisture and intense heat will immediately destroy the structure and composition of your knife’s wooden handle. You would not want your knife falling into pieces because the handle has swelled and come off entirely.

  1. Never Leave Your Knife Under the Sunlight

Avoid putting your knife anywhere that exposes it to sunlight. Dried or soaked wood indicates that rotting, cracking, or splintering is already in progress. For safekeeping purposes, store the knife either in a drawer or a knife bag.

If, by any chance, your knife comes into contact with water, simply dry it by hand. Leaving your knife to dry by air is not advisable because it provides the water sufficient time to clog your wooden handle’s pores. 

By adhering to the correct sanitation and maintenance practices, you will grasp why previous generations loved this and how buying it from your nearest kitchen tool store was the best thing you ever did.

Did this article help you in any way? Let us know your insights in the comments below. We would love to hear from you

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