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Brass Wok- Is it safe for cooking?

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7 replies to this topic

#1 rob7

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Posted 06 June 2007 - 05:43 PM

For my birthday, my wife gave me a brass wok. For some reason, I began to wonder if brass was a safe material for cooking. I decided to google it and came up with the following information.

A link from a Canadian government agency suggested not to use unlined copper or brass and that it can lead to ingesting dangerous amounts of copper (I believe brass has a significant amount of copper).

Another site says that unlined brass or copper cookware can develop verdigris, a highly poisonous substance. From Webster's: verdigris- 1 a: a green or greenish-blue poisonous pigment resulting from the action of acetic acid on copper and consisting of one or more basic copper acetates b: normal copper acetate Cu(C2H3O2)2·H2O ; 2: a green or bluish deposit especially of copper carbonates formed on copper, brass, or bronze surfaces.

The link to the wok that I received is: http://importfood.com/brass_wok.html

When I spoke to the gentlemen on the customer service line he said that in Thailand he always sees candy being made in brass woks but has not seen it for cooking. He thought that he did not see it used in cooking because it is more costly that a carbon steel wok or cast iron.

Obviously the action during candy making vs. a stir fry is much different and not as rough on the wok.

What are your thoughts. I brass a safe material for cookware?

#2 nduran

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 10:29 AM

You would probably have to eat the thing to get a lethal dose of copper, but brass is so soft I can't imagine wanting to cook in it unless no other material was available. Those images do look different than any other sort of brass I've been around, though, so who knows--could be stronger.

Should make a decent meringue at least.

#3 Sam Salmon

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 11:23 AM

The Canadian Govt is always warning us about something-they are notorious worry warts/nannies and chicken littles . :rolleyes:

If it's good enough for Thais-who have a fabulous cuisine and are a healthy people- then it's good enough for everyone else I'm sure.

#4 DerekW

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 01:11 PM

Most brass alloys contain a percentage of lead. The percentage varies with the intended original purpose of the alloy. Forging brass [C377] runs about 2% lead. It is possible to "pickle" the surface of a brass container or fitment to remove the available lead from the surface layer of the brass - John Palmer is a metalurgist by profession, and a brewer and author by avocation. His Webpage describes the process.

Nice looking woks.


#5 Special K

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 02:19 PM

I asked my husband, the high school chemistry teacher, about this. He said that brass is a zinc/copper alloy, and he certainly wouldn't cook anything acidic in it.

#6 eje

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 03:01 PM

Things like Cajeta and fudge often get cooked in big round copper kettles.

I'm not sure the reason for it, though I guess brass would have some of the same properties.
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#7 andiesenji

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 03:45 PM

You should not use a brass vessel of any kind for cooking foods containing acid. Sugar does not react with brass or copper.
Also, you can't put a brass vessel on a burner that is appropriate for wok cooking. It will simply get too hot.
The melting point of brass is less than that of copper. Copper melts at close to 2000 degrees. Brass melts at 1600-1700 degrees, Fahrenheit.
This can vary, depending on the alloy components. Zinc melts at close to 800.
Tin melts at 450.

I used to have a very heavy unlined copper reduction pan with bronze handles for sugar/syrup. I put it on a burner (empty) to heat it and was distrated by something and when I returned to the stove I donned a heat-proof glove and took hold of the brass handle - when I tried to lift the pot the bronze handle bent and the rivets simply stretched and broke, leaving the pot on the burner. I turned the burner off - the pot was okay but I was also able to pull the helper handle off.
I still have the pot but now it has cast iron handles.

Edited by andiesenji, 07 June 2007 - 03:56 PM.

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#8 takadi

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 05:55 PM

I am a wok fan, and I actually ran into that site you provide. Brass woks are actually used in Thai cooking, but only for deserts and reducing sauces (according to what I've seen).