What is Urthware?
What is our mission at urthware? To make naturally safe cutting boards and kitchenware without the toxic, synthetic and/or petroleum based chemicals found in most cutting boards. From our 100% Canadian locally sourced (100 mile) ethically harvested lumber, to our organic beeswax finishes, to our all natural gum tree rubber feet (natural latex). We go out of our way to create products that are as natural as possible and healthy for your family to use. Why buy expensive organic food just to place it on either a plastic cutting board, a glue filled bamboo board (usually an untested glue) or a wooden board containing toxic glues (untested) or scrap lumber or lumber obtained in unethical ways? When you now do have a choice. Urthware, naturally safe kitchenware.
Do your cutting boards contain glue?
ALL of our All Natural Series cutting boards contain ZERO glues and ZERO petroleum based coatings. They are the most natural cutting boards we can possibly produce.
What type of wood do you use?
We use 100% Canadian Hard Maple (Sugar maple) sourced within 100 miles of our facility and all ethically harvested and/or FSC certified. Hard Maple has the perfect blend of hardness for durabilty and softness to not dull your knife blades as quickly as, for example, a bamboo cutting board. It also has been shown in studies to naturally combat harboring bacteria (you still need to clean and sanitize your wooden products too!). Plastic cutting boards, even when run through the dishwasher tend to harbor bacteria once the board has been used and has cut marks in the surface. As Hard Maple dries it kills the bacteria. With proper sanitization (as per included instructions), we feel Hard Maple is the best choice for a cutting board, bar none.
Do you use chemicals to treat your lumber?
We use 100% Canadian Hard Maple (sugar maple) sourced within 100 miles of our facility and all ethically harvested and/or FSC certified. Unlike many we DO NOT use any chemical sprays, insecticides, fungicides, etc (i.e. ABSOLUTELY NO anti-sap sprays or dips) for our lumber. These sprays are used in the lumber industry to reduce staining and defects caused by pests and fungus when the trees are felled. We would rather have some staining and natural imperfections and NOT use chemicals. Instead our lumber is kiln dried (heat is used) to stop fungus and pests.
Also, because our lumber or products are not shipped in bulk across a countries border they are not sprayed with pesticides or herbicides at the borders unlike many wooden products and materials are coming from overseas.
some info on anti-sapstain treatment below:
Why not plastic?
Other than the obvious point that plastic is just that, plastic, and is so very far from a natural non-toxic surface, it is also hard on your knife blades. There is also the large misconception that plastic is cleaner and more sanitary than wood. This is not the case, as plastic cutting boards become scarred easily over time and bacteria can easily live inside the groove marks and are not easily decontaminated, even in the dishwasher. Closed grained hardwoods on the other hand absorb the bacteria beneith the surface and as the board dries, basically, it kills them. You may read the following link if you'd like more information on the subject
Why not Bamboo?
There are a few reasons we do not want to use bamboo, and the one major reason that we feel bamboo doesn't meet our definition of a "natural cutting board" is: It is made of small pieces of bamboo (a grass) which means that bamboo cutting boards use a substantial amount of glue to hold them together and usually that glue is a foreign made formadahyde base glue. Our All Natural Series of cutting boards contain NO glues.
Bamboo is grown in Asia. Bamboo must be transported across the globe to make it to North America, significantly reducing its "eco" friendlyness.
Standards in Asia for agricultural practices are NOT the same as they are in North America. As the need for bamboo increases forests are being clearcut to plant bamboo. They can claim organic as there are (in general) no pesticides needed when growing bamboo. However the same logic to do with pesticides also applies when refering to a Maple tree or a Walnut tree.
Why not a wood fiber cutting board?
A wood fiber cutting boards composition is bascially sawdust from any type of lumber waste that is set in a glue, again like bamboo boards this glue is usually low quality and formaldehyde based. These boards have a VERY VERY high percentage of glue content, not even just the seams like other cutting boards. The surface you are cutting on IS glue.
Is your lumber Certified in any way? Such as FSC?
-We actually prefer (and it is better for the environment) to use trees that had to be felled, or fell for various reasons (powerlines, storms, etc), this however is not always the case. Sometimes our lumber comes from FSC certified forests, sometimes it is dead standing, sometimes it had to be cut down for various reasons (powerlines, wind damage, storms, etc.) sometimes it is a naturally fallen tree (again, storms, age, etc). We do care, and we do obtain lumber that we feel has the least impact on the environment, sometimes the lumber that is better for the environment doesn't have FSC certification and for these reasons we in no way guarantee FSC or any other certifications. We use the lumber we feel has the least impact on the environment regardless of the added financial, or labour related costs. Period.
How we respect and use resources- imperfections in wood
Wasting wood goes against our grain :-). Please realize that natural lumber has inherent inconsistancies in colour, has flaws, and imperfections. We will DO NOT waste materials because they have spalting, knots, natural, staining, etc. We fully stand by this manufacturing process because imperfections in natural wood are just that, natural, and wood is beautiful because of its inperfections not in spite of them. We obviously do not use defective, cracked, or rotten lumber, but all other “flaws” including: natural markings, knots, natural staining, spalting, changes and differences in colour, etc that do not affect the quality, durability and usefulness of our end products are used. We take the environment and the beautiful natural resource that is our forests, very seriously, and again, waste goes against our ideology, ethics, and vision.
Where do we get our lumber?
Hard Maple, also called Sugar Maple, or rock maple grows in the North Eastern United States as well as South Eastern Canada. Our lumber is procured from selectively harvested forests. Our lumber is all sourced within a 100 mile radius of our location in Ontario Canada.
One very nice thing about Hard Maple as a material for our cutting boards is the fact that it is not “farmed” as some other cutting board materials are, which means sugar maples are not sprayed with pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers but grow naturally on their own in the wild.
Is your lumber reclaimed?
NO. Never. Honestly we are not sure why anyone would want to cut their food on anything other than virgin wood. Reclaimed wood could have come from the floor of an old factory that made asbestos, or pesticides for all you know.
Is your lumber "Organic"?
All of our lumber is from natural, wild maple trees and not farmed/agriculturally grown. Because Hard Maple trees grow in their natural environment they are not subject to/or able to be "Organic Certification" . Trees grown in their natural ecosystem are the definition of Organic!
What type of knife should I use?
As with all wooden cutting boards we recommend using a sharp knife such as a chef's knife for chopping and cutting.
We do not recommend using serrated knives as serrated blades act as a saw and can reduce the life expectancy of your cutting board. In the end however this ends up your own personal decision.
We do not recommend cleavers or heavy chopping on any of our boards with the exception of our heritage series. Though quite obviously, even an end grain board WILL show more wear when using a cleaver or chopping.
How do I care for my Urthware cutting board?
Just like any other wooden cutting board an Urthware cutting board needs to be taken care of. Care includes proper drying and storage, regular oiling, and normal wooden cutting board no no's like submerging them in water, putting them in the dishwasher, oven or microwave, storing them in damp cupboards with no air circulation, etc.
Detailed instructions come with EVERY Urthware cutting board.
Is my cutting board mildew/Mold proof?
Absolutely NOT. Nothing is mildew or mold proof. Even synthetic plastic products such as a plastic cutting board, a rubber plug or even shower mat isn't even mold proof and they aren't even porous material.
Drying your board and regular oiling are very important (any brand and type of cutting board). Storing a board in a damp location, a non-ventilated location, or leaving it wet without giving it a towel drying and time to air dry top and bottom with open air, could absolutely result in mildew, and bacterial growth from food oils and particles imparting smells, on ANYTHING made of wood, or ANY porous material. This can happen anywhere on a cutting board, though it would be more likely on the bottom, bottom edges, around feet as when people leave them wet and put them in an unventilated area they never get a chance to dry! Not oiling properly will increase the amount of water your board soaks up and increase its drying time as well, causing even better conditions for mildew.
Never oil a cutting board (any wooden cutting board or utensil) before if fully air dries, you'll lock in water.
I'd like to order a board without feet, can I?
We do not make our cutting boards without feet.
We want your experience with our products to be the best experience possible.
We have taken a lot of time designing something that works properly, has been thoroughly tested, is beautiful, functional, and natural.
There are some main reasons why we use our handmade natural gum tree rubber feet:
1. Feet take out any "play" from slight wood movement So your board is stable. Usually when a wooden cutting board (any brand) has NO feet it is recommended to have a damp towel underneath to give grip and stabilize the board. All wooden boards can have movement/slight warping over time.
2. The feet give grip. It's safer
3. The feet keep your board out of any water that may be on the counter top which could warp or cause damage to your board if the water is not noticed.
4. The feet allow the board to dry evenly after washing. Again, not allowing it to sit in water.
5. It is very difficult to build boards out of one piece of solid lumber. Being natural, wood has inherent imperfections and having two sides of an all natural cutting board made from one large piece of wood is not always possible.
So, in a nutshell, taking the feet off the board would lower your overall user experience.
What kind of steel do you use in your cutting boards?
We use 304 (18-8) Stainless Steel for all of our hardware such as the reinforcing/stabalizing rods, and our screws. It is expensive for true Stainless Steel and just one of the quality materials we use that people don't necessarily realize that we use, or what is really costs to use actual stainless steel.
Do you use plastic to in packaging for shipping?
We do not use packing peanuts, plastic bags, or styrofoam in our shipping. We use cardboard, and bunched up kraft paper as packing materials, we do use tape however as there is no eco friendly viable alternative to tape.
Will my board stay smooth after I start using it?
Absolutely not. As soon as you wash your cutting board the first time, you will see it become a little "rougher". Here is why.
There are two types of wood finishes. Oil/soft wax finishes, and surface coating finishes.
Oil/wax finishes (oil and wax are what are used on cutting boards), oil soaks into the wood and protects it from the inside wax usually sits closer to the surface blocking water.
Surface finishes on the other hand are what you would typically see on your wooden table or chairs. These surface coating finishes (varnish, lacquer) create a barrier between the wood and water, dirt, stains, etc. They work beautifully for that purpose. Though there are two major problems with using them on a cutting board. 1. They are full of toxins 2. because they are a hard surface coating, when you use your knife on this surface you very quickly cut through the coating, it starts to chip off and get into your food, and it quickly loses its protective properties. To fix this, the board would need to be sanded down to bare wood again and the lacquer/varnish re-applied. You can't just re patch small areas.
Oil/wax finishes, again, protect from within. You can cut on the board all you want and all you have to do is add some more oil occationally. Of course you will make marks on a wooden board, but you are not chipping off a synthetic surface coating like explained above.
As your board becomes seasoned with oil, over time it will smooth back out (though obviously not as smooth as when it was new)