woods - eating and cooking

Davey569

Full Member
Jun 18, 2008
1,098
6
Off the beaten track
Me and Addo were talking about this at one of the meets. I made a spoon out of hornbeam which is meant to have tanins in it but it was alright to eat off. We came to the conclusion that prettymuch all wood you can make spoons and bowls with and all common woods are fine. Even toxic ones! :)
 

Chambers

Settler
Jan 1, 2010
843
5
Darlington
Sorry, can someone explain what the alternative to cook directly is or what cook directly is? Also toxic, does that mean dont cook with, dont carve with and dont eat, or even dont burn on a campfire?
 

xylaria

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Toxicology is complicated, actually getting poisoned depends on how much of toxin gets in your system and how. The toxins in laburnum and yew are very poorly soluble in water, so the likelyhood of getting anything form eating soup out of wooden bowl is pretty remote. But then people do stupid things, you say something is safe and then vodka is left in a yew tankard for two weeks and then knocked back. Bare in mind melamine is toxic by ingestion but is safe to use in babies food bowls.

There is list of the woods that are a dodgy to work with, regards dust etc. There is also a list of I think of woods you shouldn't burn like elder and rhody. Some woods you eat off and can't burn, some you can burn, but need to take care working them. Just saying something is toxic doesn't really say a lot. Everything is toxic it is just a matter of dose.
 
Last edited:

Cyclingrelf

Mod
Mod
Jul 15, 2005
1,160
17
45
Penzance, Cornwall
I've added what I believe to be true about the woods...though like JDLenton am not 100% sure in some cases.
Alder FS CD - good flavour for smoking meats
Apple FS CD - good flavour for smoking meats
Ash FS CD
Aspen (UK ?)
Beech
Birch (FS) (CD)
Blackthorn FS CD
Cedar Red CD but some are alergic to it incontact with food
Cherry FS CD - good flavour for smoking meats
Chestnut CD
Douglas Fir
Elder All green parts are toxic to ingest
Elm
Field Maple FS CD
Fir
Hawthorn FS CD
Hazel CD
Holly I was told not to cook over it - TX
Hornbeam
Horse Chestnut
Larch
Lime FS CD
Norway Maple FS CD
Oak FS CD - good flavour for smoking meats
Pear FS CD - good flavour for smoking meats
Pine (?) CD
Poplar
Rowan FS CD
Spruce (?) CD
Sweet Chestnut CD
Sycamore FS CD
Walnut FS CD
Whitebeam
Willow - bark contains salicylate (aspirin), so might flavour food and not a good idea to overdose on it as can cause stomach problems. Salicylate in concentrated form is used to burn off veruccas/warts.
Yew TX
Missing Any?
 

Laughoutlouder

Forager
Jun 21, 2009
144
0
Dublin
Seeds leaves and flowers are toxic and there is also a small amount of toxin in the bark but I'll give you £10 if you can find me results of a test showing toxin in the wood.


Robin:
http://www.bmj.com/cgi/pdf_extract/283/6301/1220-a
Dont think I get £10 pounds for it though as its not a study, I'm gonna keep looking though! :)

Interseting site with a fullish list:
http://www.sdturtle.org/public_documents/PlantsThatPoison.pdf

Site above puts cherry in as being questionable, is that so? Anyone? Made my godson a little cherry spoon. Wouldn't like to see him with irritation. I asked one of my lecturers, he is Mr. Tree, and he said only the stones have cyanide but wood is fine. Now I'm not so sure, cherry laurel is questionable and have heard reports of a very strong acidic smell from freshly cut wood. It's in the prunus genus too so really not sure anymore.....
 

pango

Nomad
Feb 10, 2009
380
5
66
Fife
Brilliant thread!

Laughoutlouder, I hope you don't see this as nit-picking but the site http://www.sdturtle.org/public_documents/PlantsThatPoison.pdf , although useful, gives information which is unquantified or unqualified in that many of our foodstuffs contain toxins in infinitesimal amounts. It is also an American site so, where scientific names are not given, common names may refer to a different genus from those used in Britain.

"Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) (24): all, esp. roots; except ripe fruit" : The flowers of which have been used as a food item and for wine-making for centuries.

"Casava (Euphorbiacea): roots" : It is the tubers of casava which are eaten after processing. Casava contains cyanogenic glycosides, which can lead to Hydrogen Cyanide poisoning, but are neutralised by soaking and cooking. This is also true of other foods which are the staple diets of many indigenous peoples, ie; bamboo shoots and certain yams.

I do take note though, of their information that ALL PARTS of rhododendron/azalea can be FATAL!

I have always believed that all parts of Laburnum are toxic and remember reading somewhere that cases of laburnum poisoning in children are more numerous than those from yew.

The dust from many exotic woods is toxic and requires full respiratory protection when working with a belt-sander, for example, and I was once left with a lingering, unpleasant and bitter taste in my mouth after burning laburnum.

I realise this may seem to be rambling and to have gone slightly off topic, but my point is that if we are unsure of the effects of burning/cooking or using certain materials for making utensils, then why take the risk... and particularly where children are concerned.

At the same time, you should always go with what you know, and your instincts are usually right.

Cheers.
 
Feb 23, 2010
3
0
Warrington
My job involves testing people for asthma symptoms and dermatitis caused by woodworking (amongst other things).

The main risks are from inhalation of dust and contact with sap, but on industrial, rather than bushcraft levels!

Here's a bit of information from the HSE:

wood toxicity
 
Feb 9, 2010
6
0
staffordshire
Alder FS
Apple (FS) (CD)
Ash (FS) (CD)
Beech (FS) (CD)
Birch (FS) (CD)
Blackthorn
Cedar Red (CD) (but some are alergic to it incontact with food)
Cherry (FS)
Chestnut (Sweet) (FS) (CD)
Douglas Fir
Elder
Elm
Field Maple (FS) (CD)
Fir (FS) (CD)
Hawthorn
Hazel CD
Holly(TX)
Hornbeam
Horse Chestnut
Laburnam (TX)
Larch
Laurel
Lime FS CD
Norway Maple (FS) (CD)
Oak (FS) (CD)
Pear (FS) (CD)
Pine (FS) (CD)
Plane
Poplar
Rowan (FS)
Rhododrendron (POSS TX)
Spruce (FS) (CD)
Sycamore (FS) (CD)
Walnut FS
Whitebeam
Willow (FS) (CD) (Note bark contains Salicilic Acid: Aspirin)
Yew TX
 

Cyclingrelf

Mod
Mod
Jul 15, 2005
1,160
17
45
Penzance, Cornwall
Oops - reading this thread again, it looks like I must have left it open on my computer before answering, as I missed loads of posts. Have amalgamated my effort with the most recent and tightened up the details about willow bark:

Alder FS CD - good flavour for smoking meats
Apple (FS) (CD) - good flavour for smoking meats
Ash (FS) (CD)
Beech (FS) (CD)
Birch (FS) (CD)
Blackthorn FS CD
Cedar Red (CD) (but some are alergic to it incontact with food)
Cherry (FS) CD - good flavour for smoking meats
Chestnut (Sweet) (FS) (CD)
Douglas Fir
Elder All green parts are toxic to ingest.
Elm
Field Maple (FS) (CD)
Fir (FS) (CD)
Hawthorn FS CD
Hazel CD
Holly (TX)
Hornbeam
Horse Chestnut CD
Laburnam (TX)
Larch
Laurel
Lime FS CD
Norway Maple (FS) (CD)
Oak (FS) (CD) - good flavour for smoking meats
Pear (FS) (CD) - good flavour for smoking meats
Pine (FS) (CD)
Plane
Poplar
Rowan (FS) CD
Rhododrendron (POSS TX)
Spruce (FS) (CD)
Sycamore (FS) (CD)
Walnut FS CD - good flavour for smoking meats
Whitebeam
Willow (FS) (CD) Note bark contains salicin, which metabolises to salicylic acid a.k.a. salicylate, the basis for Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). This has a bitter flavour when ingested. Some people use green willow to smoke meat.
Yew TX
 

Laughoutlouder

Forager
Jun 21, 2009
144
0
Dublin
Brilliant thread!

Laughoutlouder, I hope you don't see this as nit-picking but the site http://www.sdturtle.org/public_documents/PlantsThatPoison.pdf , although useful, gives information which is unquantified or unqualified in that many of our foodstuffs contain toxins in infinitesimal amounts. It is also an American site so, where scientific names are not given, common names may refer to a different genus from those used in Britain.

It's not nit-picking. It's being correct! :)

What about robinia? Robinia pseudoacacia. Have heard the wood is poisonous? I'm unsure. It is as hard as a bloody rock and chipped my axe anyway.

Is ash, Fraxinus excelsior safe to bbq over?

Can I safely tap any member of the Acer genus?
 

robin wood

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Oct 29, 2007
3,054
1
derbyshire
www.robin-wood.co.uk
Robin:
http://www.bmj.com/cgi/pdf_extract/283/6301/1220-a
Dont think I get £10 pounds for it though as its not a study, I'm gonna keep looking though! :)[/url]


Good effort but no test result on the wood. We all know folk get sick from eating seeds and I have test results showing amount of toxin in seeds, leaves, flowers and bark. £10 still up for grabs for a test result for the wood.

Well I claim the £10.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laburnum

If it's on wikipedia that's Gospel, isn't it? ;)

As above just saying the whole tree is poisonous does not count, it is easy to say but without referencing a test result it is pure guesswork.

Any idea of somewhere to start where I could find out Robin? I only ask because I acquired a billet of rhody recently and it carves beautifully - cheddar is a close approximation - and once dried it's lovely and light but still seems quite strong for.

Email Kew,

they are very good and sent me a huge amount of info on laburnum (but could not find a test result)

I see we have a TX on holly now can anyone point me to a test result or a decent academic source showing the wood as toxic?

As I said before other than yew I would give a don't know to Rhody and Laurel all the rest are both FS and CD. The small concern expressed re tannin in hornbeam is nothing to worry about, oak has much more and it is added to wine, stewed tea also contains tannin.

I personally think a more useful list would be which woods are good for these various purposes. Poplar for instance is excellent wood to carve a quick cooking or serving spoon as is willow. Pine whilst food safe would be one of the last things I'd choose for a utensil.
 

jdlenton

Full Member
Dec 14, 2004
3,002
7
47
Northampton
a more useful list would be which woods are good for these various purposes. Poplar for instance is excellent wood to carve a quick cooking or serving spoon as is willow. Pine whilst food safe would be one of the last things I'd choose for a utensil.

now there is a fantastic idea put in use for bow and hand drill as well and we could really have a good reference table

categories for a new list might include

good for carving
good for using as a utensil
good for hot fire boiling
good for hot coals
good for use in bow drill
good use in hand drill
can we put in toxicity if not anecdotal ?


what do you recon ?
 

heath

Settler
Jan 20, 2006
637
0
42
Birmingham
P.36 of Langsner's 'Green Woodworking' puts Rhododendron in the 'excellent' column of his table of 'woods free from taste and odour when dry'.
 

Rumcajs

Forager
Nov 13, 2009
170
0
Kielce, PL
www.jbohac.net
Some species of Rhododendron are poisonous to grazing animals. These Rhododendrons have a toxin called grayanotoxin in their pollen and nectar. Rhododendron is extremely toxic to horses.

Found this info on Wiki. Nothing about wood and bark.