You can stain butcher block countertops using wood stain with suspension agents, like water and alcohol, or with wood stain with finishing agents, like lacquer or polyurethane. For a longer wearing surface, stains with finishing agents are best, as they form a coating on top of the wood. Here's a guide to choosing the right stain and applying a professional looking finish.
Stains with suspension agents are based with water, alcohol or petroleum distillate. These stains are thinner in consistency, so they soak into the wood. Mineral based stains are non-drying. Choose an alcohol-based stain or a sealer with drying oils.
Lacquer, polyurethane and varnish coat the wood rather than soak into it. These stains are easier to remove and much slower drying following application. For a kitchen with plenty of activity, choose a stain with a finishing agent.
Applying Wood Stain
Clean and thoroughly dry the surface of the counter top.
Dip brush or roller into the stain, and remove excess stain.
Paint stain on in one direction only. Allow to dry.
For the second coat, paint in the opposite direction.
Avoid stains with finishing agents that are water based. Although these are water resistant, they are not recommended for surfaces that regularly become wet, which your butcher block countertop will. Chemicals can also wear down water based stains.