Plastic Cutting Boards and Microplastics in your Food recently posted an article “Making meals without microplastics: Tips for safer cutting boards”. It reported on a study that found “as many as 1,114 microplastic particles – less than five millimeters long – each time the board was used to cut carrots”. The study used plastic poly cutting boards.

That got my attention and I chucked my plastic cutting board which I used on top of my bamboo board. I like my bamboo board except that it is very noisy when chopping. Would wood be quieter, and does the type of wood matter?


type of wood, perhaps not so much.

1.75 - 2.5 inch thick end grain cutting board, rubber feet, definitely not a noise issue.

maple is the ultimate wood type. walnut and cherry are indistinguishable nexts.

bamboo the grass itself - is an issue as it is very hard, and thus also hard on knife edges - keep in mind… side vs end grain constructions . . . the actual biggest ‘issue’ with bamboo is not the hardness of the grass itself, but the hardness / destructive impact of the resins/epoxy glues used to “assemble” the small pieces into the 'big board"


You can make a decent side grain board of any food safe wood and have a decent board, but the softer the wood the quicker the board gets beat up. Not leaving it out wet or soaking it combined with periodic oiling with food safe mineral oil will help extend its life. Anything harder than maple may be a bad idea. End grain boards are hard to make and are generally pricey. I commend you for shifting from plastic to wood. Sadly the plastic is now in existence and will almost certainly end up in a landfill FFE, but it is better than keeping it and eating the plastic it is made of, bit by bit. Now, to really complicate this discussion, other plastics, things like food containers, present the same issues. Even clothing that uses synthetics spreads microplastics. Using fabrics and materials that do not have plastics is the best solution available. It is virtually impossible, however, to escape it in food packaging, but you can minimize it.


Yes. I have the same experience with bamboo boards. Wood boards (any) will be quiter. Usually speaking, softer wood will be quieter


From what I understand, the biggest issue with bamboo boards is that bamboo has a very high silica content, and silica is very hard on knife edges.


Yes. The advantage of bamboo cutting boards are that they are cheap and they are light, but they are actually pretty resistance to wrapping (for how thin they usually are).

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What Steve said about silica content. Bamboo and also teak (but to a lesser extent) are reported to have a higher silica content, so are harder on your knives. Just anecdotal, but I’ve switched to all wood boards and think that I have less dulling than when I used to use all bamboo cutting surfaces.

I’ve never used plastic cutting surfaces but there’s a thread here on HO about the proliferation of microplastics generally (e.g., how many billions of particles are released from new plastic containers, although I’m not certain that testing was “fair”, given that most people wash containers before use and the testing was on “virgin” storage containers).

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I’m concerned about microplastics, not so much about my own health, but because they can clog my septic systems. The volume of particles that come from synthetic cutting boards is minuscule in comparison to that from doing one load of laundry containing synthetic fibers.

What everyone should be more concerned over is the particle and chemical pollution from tire dust.

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I hadn’t thought about whether the glue used in bamboo and wooden boards was food-safe. It seems many manufacturers don’t disclose info about the glue or the treatment. Also, I’m not very tall so I need a board that’s not very thick. I may have to go the custom route. And I thought finding a non-toxic cutting board would be relatively easy.

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If you have a Marshall’s/TJMaxx/HomeGoods store near you, they typically have a decent selection of thinner all-wood cutting boards. Many of them in the smaller sizes are made from a single piece of wood, without any glues. You should start seeing many of them getting marked down/clearanced as we approach the end of the holiday season.


I respectfully disagree about hard rock maple being the best. It’s certainly the easiest wood to come by in the U.S. for end-grain boards, and of the three most common choices – maple, walnut, and cherry – the most durable. But there are better options available, especially in Europe, particularly beech and hornbeam.

Cherry is also significantly softer than walnut and so less durable. I happen to prefer the color of cherry, but walnut is quite a dark, rich color and this has the advantages of hiding stains really well.

This article is pretty spot-on:

advice / revelations / etc from people “selling their product” is very suspect.
search bamboo cutting boards - they rave about it . . . which is normal - that’s what they sell. they’re not likely to point out any negative issues.

as for cherry, here’s your source:
" . . . I definitely notice it wears faster. Your home chef probably won’t notice it, but Mighty Quinn’s BBQ certainly has seen how quickly it wears when you’re chopping meat on it for 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year."

I will respectfully decline to accept the assumptions of “extreme usage” as pertinent to the “home kitchen”

as for European beech and hornbeam - if you live there, go for it.
if you don’t live in Europe, it may be less happy-making…

BBB doesn’t sell beech or bamboo cutting boards, so I think it’s safe to assume he’s not touting the former’s virtues to make a buck. He simply describes it as his favorite.

Years ago I made edge-grain boards using a combination of cherry, walnut and maple. Within a few years the cherry and walnut showed heavy wear, while the maple was largely unscathed. End-grain boards are more resilient, but sharp knives will still cut into those made of softer woods far more easily than those made of hornbeam, beech or maple. Of course YMMV, but I would hardly describe my cooking habits as extreme use.

Most wood cutting boards are very good. I think the preference of harder wood such as maple (~1400 Janka) vs soft wood such as hinoki (~700 Janka) is entirely personal preference. I kind of agree with you that softer wood is a little easier for the harder knives. So I think it is a tradeoff – between the knives or the cutting boards.

Talk about abusing/heavily use cutting boards. I think these Cantonese BBQ chopping blocks get a lot of useage.

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I have a larch board, along with maple. Yes, larch is softer, but so far I am quite pleased. It has been a little under a year.


We need to be clear about what we want and expect cutting boards to do.

Ignoring temporarily that most people want them to look good, they primarily function to (a) protect the underlying surface from the knife; and (b) provide support and resistance for the thing being cut, i.e., something to cut against.

Kindness to knives and wear are second-order concerns. You can always resharpen, and even very worn and dished butcher blocks function quite well without accordion cuts.

The interesting question for me is: Do we want ( or mind) our knives cutting the board along with the food? Some of that is inescapable. But end-grain (and self-healing synthetic) boards minimize it, even if they raise a prospect of chipping an embedded, twisted edge. Cutting on an end-grain wood board can be likened to throwing darts into a bristle datboard–the steel separates but doesn’t cleave the board.

My opinion is that the most efficient cutting motion is rarely to plunge the edge into the food as a vector perpendiculat to the board-- at the bottom of such a stroke, you’re just pinching the food into pieces against the board. I prefer pushing or pulling cuts across foods, and believe this is kinder to the knife (except on glass and stone “boards”)

I consider hygiene a tertiary concern. I suppose that’s easy to say if you’re not exploding at both ends from festering embedded foods. So my ideal board might well be a softer wood, cut end-grain, like your hinoki slice. Supports the food enough, protects the counter, gentler on the edge and promotional of push/pull without hacking up the wood.

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Hinoki boards are almost exclusively sold as edge-grain, with the exception of a few sellers on Etsy (for a huge premium). Traditionally Japanese makers produce only edge-grain boards with it, however. It’s intended to be soft and yielding, but sharp knives will still cut into it since its Janka hardness is only about 500-800. It’s also quite porous…

Sunshine’s Rule of Existence:

For literally every item that exists on the planet, there is at least one article that natters on about how great it is and how it can cure life, and at least another article that blathers on about how it was born of pure evil and will poison us immediately.

I just stop reading. Life is fatal.


the butcher shop dates back to 1874, the block to about 1900-ish,
still in the family.

maple, end grain, used everyday, all day


Ooops. Birch.