Worrying about the type of glue keeping your cutting board together, may not seem like the most exciting topic, but trust us—it’s still important. Especially when it comes to food safety.
So, in this post, you will learn why food safe does not equal food grade. You will also discover why some food safe glues can still pose a food-safety hazard if they come in direct contact with food.
And we reveal which type of cutting board can be made without requiring any wood glues at all.
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Is There A Food Grade Wood Glue?
Well, first we need to clarify what we mean by food grade. Any food grade material or substance needs to be safe enough for direct contact with food and drinkable liquids. In short, this means that the material itself needs to be fit for human consumption.
For example shellac is a food grade material. In its natural form, this popular wood finish can be used as a food additive. With its shiny gloss, it’s used to add coatings to confectionery.
Mineral oil, is another food grade substance. Food grade mineral oil contains petroleum distillate, which is a highly refined version of petroleum. Sold over pharmacy counters as a laxative, this oil can also used as a water-repellent cutting board finish.
However, wood glues are not food grade because they contain chemicals and additives that are not fit for human consumption.
Wood glues, (also known as PVA ‘Polyvinyl Acetate’ glue or carpenter glue), contain thermoplastics. These adhesives form incredibly strong wood glue joints, but they are in no way safe for human consumption.
Even wood glue alternatives, such as CA (Cyanoacrylates) glue and hot glues, are too toxic to risk coming in contact with your food.
In short, there are no food grade wood glues. That does not, however mean that there are no food ‘safe’ wood glues.
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Is Food Safe The Same Thing As Food Grade?
Food grade materials are safe enough to come in ‘direct’ contact with food. Food safe materials, on the other hand, are safe enough to come into ‘indirect’ contact with your food.
So, a food safe wood glue is one that — after drying and curing — no longer secrets resins, plastics or fumes. Once they’ve cured into a hard durable substance, there is little risk of any of that glue getting into nearby food.
But, the reason why food safe glues are only suitable for indirect contact, is because they aren’t wholly insurmountable. Some types of adhesives can dissolve if they come into contact with alcohol, white vinegar, and even just hot water.
That is why a food safe glue (or any food safe finish) shouldn’t come into direct contact with hot food and liquids. And hot food/liquids are exactly what’s going to be prepped atop your cutting board.
Related Post: Is Shellac Food Safe Enough For A Cutting Board?
So, What Kind Of Glue Is Food Safe Enough For Direct Food Contact?
Honestly? None of them. Or at least, there is no durable long-lasting glue made from wholly food grade ingredients. And a glue thats strong enough to build a chopping block, will inevitably contain strong inedible chemical additives.
In fact, take a good look at the labels of food-safe wood glues. All of them will make mention of the fact that they are FDA food safe for ‘indirect contact with food’.
The key word here is ‘indirect’.
In other words, they aren’t food safe enough to be used on a food prepping surface — i.e. any surface that will have lots of direct contact with food such as a cutting board.
So avoid having wood glue solidify on the visible food prepping side of your board. Do that, and a food safe wood glue won’t pose a safety hazard come your next meal.
OK. So, What’s the Best Food Safe Glue For a Wooden Cutting Board?
The best, (and most water-resistant), wood glue you can use is Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue. So, if you’re making an edge-grained or end-grained board, then get Titebond III’s solvent-free adhesive.
Titebond is sandable, yet strong. So strong, in fact, that it cures into a substance that is much tougher than most any cutting board hardwood.
Are There No Strong Glues That Are Safe Enough For Direct Food Contact?
If you want a food grade level cutting board surface, then ditch wood glues completely.
Now, this is going to be difficult to do if you’re making an edge-grained or end-grained board. However, a face-grain cutting board does not require wood glues or any other adhesive.
You can simply use a jigsaw or router to cut and shape these boards, (instead of gluing pieces together). So, there is no wood glue needed.
What’s The Difference Between Face, End, and Edge Grained Cutting Boards?
A planed wooden plank has three sides to it; a face side, an edge side, and an end grain side.
An edge grained board has the long narrow side of the plank as it’s visible food contact surface. An end grained board has checkerboard-styled end grain pieces of wood as it’s visible food contact surface.
However, a face grained cutting board simply has the face side showing as it’s direct food contact surface.
Edge and end grained cutting boards are the ones that are made using wood glues. While face grained cutting boards can be simply carved out of wood.
So, if you make face grained cutting boards, you can be sure that there will be no wood glues coming into direct contact with your meal.
Can You Use Super Glue On A Cutting Board? Is Super Glue Food Safe? CA glues are made out of formaldehyde condensation. So they too, (like PVA wood glues), are not food safe enough for direct contact with food.
To Wrap Up, Here Are The 3 Key Takeaways From This Post…
- 1). Wood glues are food safe, but they are not food grade. This means that they are suitable for use on surfaces that will have indirect contact with food and drink.
- 2). The only truly food grade wood glue is no wood glue at all.
- 3). If you want to avoid using wood glue, then only make face grained cutting boards.
FDA Compliant, Food Grade and Food Safe | Industrial Specialties Mfg. & IS MED Specialties