Bamboo cutting boards are a great alternative to glass, plastic, or other wooden cutting boards, which tend to warp, split, or crack. Many people prefer using bamboo cutting boards in their kitchen because they’re believed to be heat and fire-resistant. Yet is this true?
Bamboo cutting boards are only heat resistant up to 400°C (752°F). They can withstand some heat, similar to wood, but will be damaged by high heat and fire. Bamboo cutting boards exposed to heat will soften, crack, and warp. Extended exposure to heat will irreversibly damage a bamboo cutting board.
As you read on, we’ll take you through how much heat your bamboo cutting board can withstand and what happens if you accidentally throw it in a dishwasher. If your board warps, we’ve got a few ideas on how to fix it!
Are Bamboo Cutting Boards Heat Resistant?
Many people think bamboo cutting boards are heat-resistant; however, this isn’t the case. Bamboo reacts as any other wood does when exposed to heat and isn’t the ultimate multi-use kitchen tool, as believed. Notably, the extent of damage done to your board depends on how long it’s exposed.
Unfortunately, bamboo’s reaction to heat means you can’t just throw the board into the dishwasher, since dishwashers use high heat for an extended time to clean a load of dishes. Should you mistakenly put your bamboo cutting board in with your dishes, it can easily become warped, cracked, and otherwise irreversibly damaged.
To avoid this, it’s best to hand wash bamboo cutting boards with a bit of hot water, much like a regular wooden board. The difference is that it must be dried off immediately, as heat and moisture aren’t good for your board for long durations.
What Happens to Bamboo When It’s Exposed to Heat
Much like regular wood used for cutting boards, bamboo can only withstand up to 400°C (752°F). Since it depends on the duration of exposure, the reaction and damage done also differ. There are a few different reactions to heat:
- A vessel straight off the stove that’s placed onto the board will leave a burn mark.
- If left for an extended period in a moderately hot environment, the adhesive barrier could break and leave splits in the board.
- When the adhesive breaks, the board stops water repellent and warps due to moisture absorption.
- Once it starts absorbing moisture, it’ll also become extremely unhygienic to use.
- Extreme warping can eventually lead to the board cracking in half.
Can Bamboo Cutting Boards Be Made Fireproof?
Bamboo cutting boards can’t be made fireproof or heat resistant. These boards have earned a false reputation of withstanding extreme heat and fire; however, even after being treated with adhesives and oils and then seasoned, bamboo still performs like any other wooden board under heat.
Notably, the bamboo used for construction and other purposes, can be treated to be fireproof. Using specific treatments of boric acid or borax, they’re virtually fire-resistant. However, both substances are toxic to humans, so using them on cutting boards isn’t an option.
How To Fix a Bamboo Cutting Board Warped From Heat
There’s no standard way to fix a warped bamboo cutting board. However, it’s possible to try reversing the damage using the same method used on wood boards. Ironically enough, it involves soaking your board in hot water.
We’ve mentioned several times that hot water and heat can warp your board, and this is true. The hot water makes your board soft and malleable, leading to the swelling of the fibers. When the fibers swell, they leave your board out of shape.
Nonetheless, the method can also reverse the damage. There are a couple of ways to do this.
Steam Iron and Ironing Board
- Have a steam iron and wet kitchen cloth on hand.
- Lay the fabric on the board and iron on top.
- Make sure to use the steamer option.
- Put a lot of pressure while ironing for results.
Note: There’s a high chance that your board might just crack with this method, especially if the warping is extreme. Yet, for minor warps, it can be a handy trick.
Use Weight To Press Flat
- Place your board in hot water for a few hours.
- Once the water has soaked through the board, take it out and lay it on a flat surface.
- Place a flat object on top, such as a baking tray.
- Place an extremely heavy weight over the flat object and leave it to dry.
- After 2-3 days, the board will be dry and flat!
Professional manufacturers use the same method to flatten their cutting boards, so it’s most likely to work and not crack your board!
Cutting and Sanding
If hot water and pressure haven’t helped, your only option is physically modifying the board. If your garage isn’t fully equipped with woodwork equipment, then your local woodworker or furniture store might have what you need. They’ll even help you out with the modifications you’re making.
If you’re doing it yourself, there are a few rules to keep in mind:
- If it’s an edge grain, you’ll have to run it through a planer.
- For an end grain, use a wide belt sander on the concave (the bump or curved portion of the wood).
In both methods, the cutting board is going to get thinner. You’ll need to oil it over again and essentially start with a new, thinner board. Keep in mind, this is a last-ditch effort to save your warped bamboo board!
Bamboo isn’t more heat resistant than regular wood. It isn’t fireproof and cannot withstand a hot plate tossed in a dishwasher or such contact with heat.
Like regular wood, bamboo is prone to warping, splitting, and cracking when exposed to steam and hot objects. You can use heat to straighten a warped board, but it’s also the enemy. It’s easier to keep the board away
Ultimately, bamboo is no better with heat than regular wood. But it’s a lot better for the environment!