Which Non-Toxic Wood For Spoons Should You Use?

wooden spoon

Wooden utensils have continued to increase in popularity in kitchens all around the world.

Not only do they offer that modern rustic look that’s so prevalent these days, but they also provide a few benefits as well.

While you can always go out and buy a nice set for yourself, many people have taken to the hobby of carving their own spoons.

After a bit of research and practice, individuals can actually make spoons quite quickly, often with higher quality and customization that you can’t find in a store.

One of the biggest questions for beginners is determining the best woods for spoon carving. Since they are used to cook, serve, and eat food, you must use non-toxic wood for spoons.

Today, we’ll explore the world of spoon carving and discuss which woods you should stick to and which you should absolutely stay away from.

Benefits of Wooden Spoons

As we mentioned above, there are tons of benefits to using wooden spoons versus plastic utensils in cooking.

If you’re still deciding whether or not to make the switch, perhaps these reasons will officially convince you.

Heat Resistant

It sounds almost a little odd to say since wood is used to start and make fires, but wood is actually resistant to heat (not flames!).

For this reason, wood is often favored over plastic in cooking.

When you use a plastic or even a metal spoon around hot objects, like the stove, they quickly become just as hot as the appliance with which you’re working.

Nothing hurts quite as much as grabbing a hot utensil.

Additionally, plastic utensils have the potential to melt when they’re left on hot pans or stove tops for too long. Your wooden spoon will never melt, meaning that it will last much longer.

No Contamination

Further down in this article, we’ll discuss which woods are safe for carving spoons. Assuming that you will be using non-toxic wood, your wooden spoons will be much safer than plastic utensils.

If you’ve ever had a plastic set of cooking utensils before, you’ve definitely noticed that they get worn down after a while.

The logical conclusion you can draw here is that particles of plastic wind up in your food as they wear down.

You may not realize it at the time, but you could be ingesting harmful chemicals that can lead to future health problems.

When you use wooden spoons, you don’t have to worry about this issue.

No Damage to Other Kitchen Tools

Plastic spoons can melt and cause health problems on the one hand. On the other hand, metal spoons can leave unsightly scrapes and scratches on your beautiful, expensive pots and pans.

This is especially devastating to pots and pans that have a non-stick coating.

Over time, using hard, metal utensils can cause damage to your sets, whether they are stainless steel or ceramic.

Wooden spoons are softer than plastic or metal and will not scratch your favorite cookware.

Best Non-Toxic Woods for Spoon Carving

Now that we have convinced you to make the switch to wooden spoons over other material, you may have also considered taking up a new hobby and making these utensils yourself.

Let’s get into what we came here for: the best non-toxic wood for spoons.

General Rules

Especially for beginners, it can be complicated to identify woods and know which kinds are absolutely safe and which have the potential to be toxic.

For that reason, you must never use any kind of wood that you’re not 100 percent sure of.

If there is any question in your mind whether or not it’s harmful, play it safe and don’t use that kind of wood.

Many kinds of wood are toxic, and many people may not realize that. This is your warning right here always to put caution first.

Wood toxicity is a widely unknown area of concern, mainly because it’s uncertain whether all wood populations are toxic or if certain factors impact individual trees.

Finally, it’s also been noted that some woods cause reactions in some people, while others have been completely fine using them.

Again, caution is always best.

Below is a brief list of some woods known to cause allergic reactions:

  • African Blackwood
  • Afrormosia
  • Black Locust
  • Bosse
  • Cashew
  • Ebony
  • Greenheart
  • Desert Ironwood
  • Milky Mangrove

The list of woods with potential or noted reactions is extensive, so you can view the whole list on the Wood Database.

Keep in mind, any kind of wood dust that you inhale can be hazardous, regardless of the type of wood.

Additionally, very few woods are actually 100 percent toxic on their own. While some may cause allergic reactions, these reactions are often in sensitive people.

Finally, once a utensil has been carved and finished with a food-safe coating, the risk of health issues significantly drops.

That being said, let’s move onto woods that are known to be safe and recommended for carving spoons.

Beginners

Anyone who is just starting out in spoon carving will benefit from using a softer wood.

The goal will be to eventually use harder woods, as they will ultimately last longer, but softwoods can help you nail down the technique as you practice your carving skills.

Some of the softer woods that will help you fine-tune your process include:

  • Black Walnut
  • Soft Maple
  • Cherry

Not only are these woods easier to work with when you’re beginning this new hobby, but they’re all considered safe in and of themselves.

Add a nice food-grade finish to them, and you will be good to go.

Experienced Carvers

Once you have taken some time to get the hang of the carving process, it should become second nature fairly quickly.

You can judge your progress based on your products and how confident you feel in your abilities. At this point, you can move on to more rigid, high-quality woods that will last longer.

Paper Birch

Paper Birch is an excellent type of wood to choose if you want to make uniquely beautiful spoons for your home. As a birch, it is known for its white bark.

As far as environmental friendliness goes, this tree is also an excellent option. It grows quickly and has a short life cycle, so there’s not much harm in using the wood.

Many experts agree that the Paper Birch has the perfect level of hardness for spoon carving.

It’s soft enough to use with hand tools, but it will definitely last you a long time in your kitchen.

Applewood

Applewood is a fine, beautiful wood that is great for carving.

Keep in mind, though, that it is one of the hardest woods on our list; it may be best to wait until you are absolutely confident in your skills before you try to master this material.

Applewood is a type of wood that makes skeptics feel more comfortable.

Since Applewood is commonly used around food for smoking (think: Applewood smoked bacon), it’s generally considered very safe to use in food tools and utensils.

Many craftsmen love to work with Applewood because it often offers twisty grains and unique patterns that look gorgeous in a carved object.

The end result usually displays a nice mix of light and dark colors.

Oak

You can’t go wrong with solid, all-American wood like Oak. This wood is super common, so you won’t have any trouble finding it at your local hardware store.

In addition, seasoned woodworkers love using this type of wood because it’s super strong and durable.

Oak also delivers in style, as it has a rich, vibrant color. The grains of the wood stand out in a way that adds eye-catching patterns.

The only reason you might stay away from carving with Oak is that it’s probably the toughest to work with.

It’s incredibly hard, so carving can be a daunting task for beginners or even intermediate carpenters.

Other Woods & Tips

We could go on and on about the best and safest kinds of woods for carving.

Some more popular choices include:

  • White Pine
  • Mahogany
  • Basswood
  • Butternut
  • Balsa
  • Aspen

In addition, it’s usually safe to assume that most “food-safe” woods are safe, like hickory, alder, and maple, which are all used in smoking.

Plus, many fruitwoods are also food-safe, like plum, pear, and cherry woods.

Some woodworkers like to stay away from woods with large open pores, as these run the risk of letting more oils, moisture, and food residue gather.

However, if you properly prepare and coat the wood, you should not have a problem with this.

Adding a finish or mineral oil to your wooden spoons can help them last longer.

It would be best if you always wash your wooden utensils by hand and never put them in the dishwasher, as this will cause them to break down faster.

A good rule of thumb to follow is to use your wood spoons until they start to crack.

Once you spot a crack, it is time to toss the spoon and start working on your next project.

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