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Is Cedar Poisonous? Answered

I just finished carving a spoon out of cedar, but my mom won't use it until I either seal it with poly, or have proof that it isn't poisonous unsealed. I Don't even think it's poisonous, but she is insisting upon me finding out. Help?
NOTE: I have rubbed in mineral oil, if that changes things, do tell.



Best Answer 8 years ago

I wouldn't think there is any problem. I've seen recipes for fish cooked on a cedar plank.

If you're sure your wood was not treated with chemicals before you got it then it should be good.

But just to make mom happy you could seal it with clear lacquer.  The mineral oil doesn't really seal it.

Here's a google of "toxic wood" and I could not find cedar anywhere in the list.

Maybe next time you could carve out of basswood. It's a common wood for carving. You can get it on the net and most better woodworking shops will carry it. My father in law used to carve and used it almost exclusively.  It's easy to carve but holds up a lot better than cedar would.

Or you could try with pine.  Some of that is pretty easy to carve if it doesn't have knots.

Cedar is not toxic. If you are cooking over a fire with wood...here is a list of the best woods to use. All of them are safe as well.


Cedar is infact, toxic, and not adequate for use as a utensils due to its porosity and softness. For an example, I'm a carpenter, and I personally know numerous "old timers" who have parts of fingers missing... Not from saws, but from the oil left in their skin from cedar splinters... Caused necrosis.

If the state of California does not have it listed as causing cancer it must be alright.

Hey ya'll, thanks for the responses and thoughts, I've decided to go ahead and seal it with boiled linseed oil. And I decided to use this wood because I love cedar, and because I have access to quite a bit from an old dead tree we found back in our woods. So I know that it hasn't been touched by other bad things. And bonus, the tree was already dry and ready when it was found. Here, I added a pic of the spoon beside the kitchen spoon I based it on.


Cedar and many of the other aromatics are in fact slightly toxic. Or I should say they contain chemicals which are toxic to humans, especially in the presence of heat, which decouples the oils from their host (the wood)

For instance, there's a list of woods a pipe carver should not use, and the pine family is one that's high on the list. Cedar isn't specifically pine, but it's close enough for me.

(don't get me wrong, I love cedar, but I keep it off kitchen utensils list.

BTW, cedar is also a porous wood, so not the best choice for a cooking utensil because it will readily absorb contaminants (bacteria, mold, etc...)

Sorry, nice gesture, but perhaps you should consider a harder wood like maple or osage orange.


8 years ago

Cedar is non-toxic, but it can impart a flavor to foods that may be objectionable to some. Cedar flavored cakes and pastries don't sound particularly appetizing to me. The mineral oil might slow down the flavor transfer process but it will quite likely leach out in hot foods.

I have been unable to find any other reference that red cedar is poisonous except as a fine dust in the air when milling or sanding. Can you point to another reference. If so I might have to change my cooking habits.

I've been hunting on the 'net and can't find a proper scientific reference. Lots of stuff about cedar & pine shavings containing toxins for small pets, but the average human is much bigger, and again pet toxicity is probably linked to respiration. To be honest lost of stuff is not good for you if taken in large quantities or too frequently, like beer & wine, but we still do it. May be moderation is the watchword here?