Introduction: Chemical Spoon (+100 to Flavor!)

About: Astrochemist with lot of hobbies

Hello (for the second time),

Today I would like to share with you my gift idea. I am a chemist, and some of my friends are too. For those friends I like to make gifts related to chemistry.

For two of them, for whom cooking is their passion, on various occasions I presented sets of "chemical spoons."

None of them were the same, so I would not exactly describe here each gift (If you are curious - I invite you to the last step of the Instructable – I will describe the presents there).

Here, I will give only a general concept.

It's simple - the chemical reactions and compounds responsible for the sensation of taste burned on wooden kitchen spoons –TADAH!

This is a very simple, small gift :). But still, gives a lot of fun.

And you can learn something while cooking ;)

I will present here a two ideas (spoon A and spoon B)

Step 1: Design

SPOON A - basic tastes - Magical spoon +100 to flavor!

sweet - aldehydes and ketones, which contain a carbonyl group (e.g – glucose, sucrose, fructose, sorbitol, aspartame)

sour – acids (I just go with hydrogen ions H+)

salt – metal ions (Na+; K+)

bitter – alkaloids (qunine) – you can draw strychnine if you feel malevolent – it is also bitter ;)

BTW – I came up with the alternative idea– poisonous spoons! (with various poisons burned on them. Unsigned formulas of course – so your gifted ones in their blissful ignorance were convinced that these chemical formulas on a spoon are just cool chemical decoration. Homemade gift for your enemies! BUAHAHA <evil laugh>

umami – amino acids (glutamic acid & aspartic acid)

See picture 1 and 2 above for details

If something is unclear – those chemical formulas are very easy to find on the internet.

SPOON B – Maillard reaction – Maillard reaction +100 skill points!

This is a reaction of non-enzymatic browning of food, occurring in from around 140 to 165 °C (280 to 330 °F). And it is responsible for wonderful taste of cooked foods (occurs when heating almost any kind of food product). Responsible for the smell of coffee (partially), meats (grilled steak), bread (toasts), fried onions, beer, pastries, chocolate, popcorn… etc… etc..

I really recommend you to look for further details in Wikipedia or similar site. I used mostly this publication: Principle of Meat Aroma Flavors and Future Prospect (Chapter 7) by Hoa Van Ba, Inho Hwang, Dawoon Jeong and Amna Touseef – you can find it without any problems - its open access. You can find much more examples of chemical compounds (with their aroma flavor characteristics) there.

On spoons, I wrote this reaction in two ways (please, see them on picture). For the second one I decided I want to draw more chemical formulas. Still, they are both pretty shortened. If you would like to put all the steps (for details, again, see the publication), I think you would need something much bigger than a spoon ;)

In the first step of Muillard reaction carbonyl group reacts with a carbohydrate group of an amino acid to form a water and N-substituted glycosylamine. In the second step, glycosylamine breaks into smaller molecules (called Amadori compounds) which contain a reactive group O = C-C-N. Next step of the reaction depends on the isomeric form Amadori product, and the pathway gets complicated.

On the other side of spoon I drew products of Maillard reaction.

For details – see the picture 3 and 4

Ok – a bit of theory is behind us. Now - true Instructable.

Step 2: Materials and Tools


wooden spoons (you can buy them for less than an euro in supermarket)


patterns (see the pictures)

pencil and eraser (to draw patterns on spoons)

woodburning kit (to be true – soldering iron will do – but I recommend to change the tip – not to waste it on woodburning)

Step 3: Steps

1. Draw the pattern on spoons with the pencil.

It is better to do this with sharp pencil. It will leave small cavities on wood and it will be easier to lead the tip that way.

2. Burn it.

It is quite easy. Just like with the pencil, only heavier. And hot. It is great project if you have never wood-burned before (although I recommend a “practice spoon” if it is your first time with it).

Hmm.. that’s it…. It is a work for one nice evening with the TV to listen to.

WARNING – as always with woodburning – remember to always do this in well-ventilated space!

Step 4:

Ok so about the gifts I had already given… Thankfully I made photos that time.

Long story short – both sets are for my friends – chemists, who like to cook.

First two pictures are of a set for my friend for “vacations after completing PhD” occasion.

Ekhm… Probably you are wondering – what is dioctyl-2-2’:5’,2”-terthiophene? It is the compound he was working with that time. And for sure it is not my fault that the crepe-spatula looks a bit… naughty… Sometimes I have a weird sense of humor….

Second set is for my other friend – for her “I am inviting you for diner” occasion. She likes everything home-related. And loves dogs.

The leafy patterns on both sets are because I like everything related to nature… I like leafs the best! And I have tip to woodburning kit shaped like leaf. All in all it is very good that I like leafs cause after playing with this tip for a while I have burn injury scar shaped like one.

So final remark – be careful! Project is easy and do not be deceived by its ease!

Step 5: BONUS - Homemade Gift for Your Best Enemy!

I couldn't resist :D

I really made it.

Just to be on the same page - It is supposed to be funny! Do not treat this idea seriously!

I know it is in poor taste and I do not intend to give it to anyone!

Homemade Gifts Contest 2016

Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2016