Why are Cooking Utensils not Made of Wood or Plastic?

Did you recently come across reports on the dangers of wooden or plastic utensils? Well, why are cooking utensils not made of wood or plastic? This article provides the answer you need to decide for yourself.

Some cooking utensils are not made of wood or plastic because they are poor heat conductors, but both materials function well as utensil handles. Moreover, wooden or plastic utensils release toxins into food when exposed to high heat for too long.

The biggest reason wooden utensils may be preferred for cooking is that they do not scratch the pan or pot. Soft silicones do not also scratch pans or pots and are becoming the better alternative to hard plastic.

Why is wood not used for utensils?

Wood is an insulator, which means it does not conduct heat, and so is not used for cooking utensils.

If manufacturers manage to use wood for utensils frequently exposed to high heat, you will waste fuel due to the absence of conduction. Cooking utensils are typically made of copper and other useful materials that can conduct heat. 

Wood is quite porous, but it is advisable to use non-porous material in the kitchen to ensure effective and efficient cleaning and disinfection.

Also, water absorption is a significant factor in terms of hygiene and prevention of bacteria growth, which relies on moisture. If you have less water, there would be fewer bacteria growth, your utensil does not harbor bacteria.

Are wooden cooking utensils safe?

Wooden utensils are good in some ways. Generally, wood is a natural resource, so it may be a non-toxic, biodegradable material for cooking utensils. It is also considered eco-friendly.

Wood is non-reactive, it does not release chemicals or change the taste of your food like plastic would.

Using wooden utensils for soups and sauces tends to retain water. The water remnant can make a good breeding place in your wooden utensil for bacteria to grow and contaminate food upon contact.

There has been no direct link between food poisoning and wooden cooking utensils, so wood is safe in this regard.

However, this could be due to a cross-contamination factor without a single link, and different from other cross-contamination causes, including food storage and hand washing.

But then, wooden cooking utensils are no different than plastic, silicone, or metallic utensils in your kitchen. Keep the wooden utensils clean and dry to get rid of contaminants.

What type of wood is used for cooking utensils?

Hardwoods are considered good woods for cooking utensils due to their density and are naturally sturdy and durable.

Woods for cooking utensils can be carved from different woods such as black walnut, soft maple, cherry, and poplar. Pecan, tallow, other woods like the tallow tree, mesquite, Osage orange, and even mesquite can be used for cooking utensils.

Although hard maple and beech make good wood choices for kitchen utensils, they are quite hard and tougher to carve.

Why are cooking utensils not made of plastic?

Plastic is a poor heat conductor, and so is not excellent for cooking utensils. Moreover, BPA-based plastics are harmful to health and do not meet production standards.

Plastic, however, makes a good material for utensil handles as they do not get highly heated alongside your steel pan or pot.

Plastic can produce harmful toxic contaminants released into your food when heated. This contaminant may include oligomers formed during plastic production. Oligomers are poisonous substances you do not want to consume.

Scientists discovered that 30 percent of your kitchen utensils release over 5mg of oligomers per food kilo. Although this limit is considered toxicologically acceptable, high doses may have detrimental effects on the liver and thyroid.

When cooking with plastic utensils such as spoons, trays, etc., do not expose them to heat for too long, especially at cooking temperatures above 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius).

Is silicone plastic safe for cooking?

Silicone is considered safer for cooking utensils compared to hard plastic. A typical kitchen utensil made with silicone is sturdy, durable, and high heat resistant. It is also a non-toxic plastic alternative and labeled BPA-free.

Silicone-based utensils have a higher melting point than hard plastic utensils. This means better chemical stability under extreme temperatures and does not release harmful substances into your food during cooking.

Silicone is also child-safe. A soft silicone-based utensil does not scratch your pot or pans.

Meanwhile, the plastics industry considers silicone a plastic even though it is not generally accepted as such. We could technically categorize silicone under the rubber family.

Regarding health, there are no links between silicone cookware or utensils and health hazards. Besides, silicone does not react with food or beverages or produce release fumes that change your food taste.

Wood vs plastic cooking utensils

Wooden cooking utensils

Wooden cooking utensils let you easily stir, scoop and serve sauces, soups, and stews. You can also seamlessly flip over your burgers and steak during your cooking expedition.

Regarding stylishness, wooden utensils bring on the vintage touch to your kitchen. The crafty finish complements your other wooden furniture to decorate your kitchen when not in use.

Wooden cooking utensils are not known to scratch your non-stick pots or pans coated with Teflon. A wooden spatula is a good choice for your stainless steel cookware when you deglaze the pan.

The downside is that wooden utensils are thick and stiff, and may break or mangle fish filets or eggs into pieces.

Some wooden kitchen utensils catch smell and pick a color from the food you stir or mix.

Plastic cooking utensils

Plastic utensils allow manufacturers to play with color, so you would expect an array of colorful utensils to light up your kitchen.

The disadvantage of having plastic utensils around is that they can melt when in contact with excessive heat or burning elements such as the sides of your pot, pan, and more.

Plastic works best under low or no heat, including stirring or mixing your cookie dough, serving into bowls, or measuring ingredients.

Unless silicone-based, plastic utensils may not be dishwasher safe.

Best wooden cooking utensils

For this section, below are recommended wooden cooking utensils to buy:

KOZE complete wooden kitchen cooking utensil set

Koze is the wooden cooking utensil set you want to invest in if you love wood. If offers the following:

Set

This is an 11 piece set of utensils including 2 serving spoons, strainer spoon, large spoon rest, salad fork, spaghetti spoon, corner spatulas, and more.

Alongside is a sleek utensil holder where you can store your spoon rest to keep the wooden utensils in one place, thereby reducing clutter.

Craftsmanship

This wooden kitchen utensil features intelligent craftsmanship that adds to the elegance of your kitchen.

It brings a smooth finish to complement your already existing wooden furniture.

No scratches

Although all utensils in this Koze set are sturdy enough to scrape your pots and pans, they will scratch when you mix or stir the toughest ingredients.

Koze uses teak wood, water-resistant and durable hardwood, for these wooden utensils. Teak wood is often used to build a boat.

Cleaning

The utensils in this collection are dishwasher and hand wash safe. Use dish soap and water to keep the utensils clean. Avoid products that are too abrasive so you do not scratch them.Click here to see on Amazon

REHAU Bamboo kitchen cooking utensil set

Rehau is a good name for crafting wooden utensils. Here are things to note about these kitchen utensils:

Non-stick

This set of utensils is treated with a heat-resistant coating to be used safely for your non-stick cookware. This means no scratches on your pots and pans.

Spoon rest

Arrives with the spoon rest you can rely on. Using a spoon rest reduces clutter and messes in your kitchen.

Cleaning

Cleaning is easy, simply use warm water and soap to clean your wooden utensils. Rehau does not mention the use of a dishwasher. Perhaps, it should not go in a dishwasher.

In the pack

This set of wooden cooking utensils arrives with wood spoons and a spatula. The craftsmanship is suitable for any contemporary kitchen to match your existing wooden finish.

Material

Rehau uses bamboo Instead of the regular wood that takes years to grow. Bamboo takes about 3 months to grow, so it does not contain as much carbon footprint present in regular wood trees. Click here to see on Amazon

Best plastic cooking utensil

This section suggests the best plastic silicone cooking utensil for your kitchen:

BONBON 10pcs/set silicone heat resistant kitchen cooking utensils

Quality

This utensil set uses high-quality silicone-based material. Completely BPA-free and 100% FDA food-grade. It can withstand high heat up to 480 degrees Fahrenheit.

These utensils are also non-stick friendly, perfect for your pots and pans such that no scratches are left on the bottom.

After a series of tests, no melting or warp is noticed unless exposed to extreme heat.

Cooking companion

If plastic is what you need, this Bonbon provides the safe and efficient cooking solution you need. It withstands cooking heat up to 440 degrees Fahrenheit, and the spatulas change a chef from an amateur to a professional chef.

In the pack

The pack contains a ladle, spatula, basting brush, spoon, slotted spoon, a turner, and spoonula.

Cleaning

After using the utensils, have your dishwasher do the cleaning. Of course, this set of utensils is dishwasher safe. You can also wash by hand using warm water and dish soap. Do not use hard bristles to prevent scratches. Click here to see on Amazon

Things to look for when buying wood cooking utensils

Before you buy that wooden set of utensils, consider the following:

  • Non-toxic

But a wooden utensil made from non-toxic natural teak wood. It must be BPA-free to avoid leaching toxic chemicals into your food when heated. Bamboo-based utensils are less exposed to carbon dioxide since it takes about 3 months only to grow them, compared to hardwood trees that take longer.

  • Cleaning

You may be too tired for a hand wash, so you need wood cooking utensils that are dishwasher safe. When you clean your set of wooden utensils by hand, care with oil monthly and leave it under the sun to dry.

  • Heat resistance

Buy wooden utensils that can resist up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid scald or melt.

  • Scratch resistance

You do not need wooden utensils that leave scratches on your pots and pans. Typical teak wood utensils are close-grained with high organic oil making them tough. Despite being tough, such cooking utensils leave no scratch on your non-stick cookware.

  • Utensils in the pack

The number of utensils you need in a collection depends on what you need for your kitchen. Your wooden cooking utensil set should contain a mixing spoon, serving spoon, salad fork, soup ladle, spatula, spaghetti server, and slotted spoon.

These pieces should be enough for your cooking needs but more can be added to the list if necessary.

Things to look for when buying plastic cooking utensils

Look for the following when buying plastic cooking utensils:

  • Food-grade silicone

The hard plastic is known to contain contaminants, so go for silicone-based cooking utensils, BPA-free, food-grade, and child safe.

Silicone utensils will not react to your food or beverage or even produce hazardous toxins you would have from hard plastic.

  • Heat resistance and non-stick

Silicone-based cooking utensils can withstand high heat, even up to or more than 446 degrees Fahrenheit. This also means no quick warp or melting if you forget the utensil in your hot pan or pot for a while.

Regarding non-stick, soft silicone utensils do not scratch your cooking pot or pan or even produce harmful fumes when you scrape the bottom.

  • Handling

Some silicone cooking utensils tend to resist getting the handle heated, which makes handling the utensil comfortable when you stir, mix, scoop or store hot food or beverage.

Thus, when buying your silicone-based cooking utensils, look for the manufacturer’s provision to combat scalding and protect hand burns.

There should also be hanging holes somewhere on the utensil handle for easier storage by hanging.

  • In the pack

Your set of silicone utensils should contain at least a turner, pasta server, spatula, whisk, grater/peeler, tea strainer, measuring cups, spoons, and a basting brush.

Depending on the manufacturer and utensil collection, more or fewer utensils may be included.

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