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Paper towel as filter


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I have occasionally used paper towel as a filter for a number of liquids (from wine with broken cork pieces to clear soups) and it always worked well without any impact on taste that I could detect.

The only evident negative side is that part of the liquid gets absorbed by it (clearly :P).

But I am now wondering whether what I have been doing has been safe or not.... I would like to avoid getting poisoned by a paper towel if there really is a risk.

Any comment / suggestion is more than welcome.

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should be perfectly fine, I'd not use those with some flowery prints etc, but other than that it's just paper. But if in doubt, a coffee filter works great too. I've had to make my own coffee filter from paper towels too at times when I ran out of the real thing, also works with no noticeable effects on taste. Just more messy.

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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I use them. Not the printed ones but I do use them to filter stock to remove bones and other solids. It's a nice benefit that most of the fat stays behind yielding a relatively clear and nearly fat free stock.

I know the paper is bleached but the bleach does not stay around. I don't think they process with other chemicals and pretty sure all are save for food use.

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Bounty makes no statement to imply that it would be unsafe to use paper towels as a filter:

Q: Can I use a Bounty paper towel as a coffee filter?

A: We haven't designed or tested Bounty for use as a coffee filter. The thickness and absorbency of Bounty are very different from that of coffee-filter paper.

If the product weren't safe for food contact, I'm sure they'd say something.

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I am not sure it is safe (or not safe).

I would not be surprised paper towels are made with some kind of wetting agent, whatever that chemical is.

Obviously the paper used has been heavily bleached also, who knows how that is done.

dcarch

Edited by dcarch (log)
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out of curiosity, if you're worried about volume loss, could you soak the paper towel in water, squeeze out the excess so it's not dripping into your collection vessel, and then run your liquid through it?

alternatively, do you think a plain white tshirt (no colors…maybe an unused undershirt) would be toxic?

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My DW has used paper towels for years and years when she drains yogurt when making tsatsiki (sorry about the spelling) and we're non the worse for wear. Only plain towels, though. Never with any printing on them.

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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Bounty makes no statement to imply that it would be unsafe to use paper towels as a filter:

Q: Can I use a Bounty paper towel as a coffee filter?

A: We haven't designed or tested Bounty for use as a coffee filter. The thickness and absorbency of Bounty are very different from that of coffee-filter paper.

If the product weren't safe for food contact, I'm sure they'd say something.

Boy, you're optimistic! :laugh:

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There are dozens of chemicals used in paper towel manufacturing. whether or not any residue is left behind is another question but why risk it? For wine, why not a small fine sieve strainer and for broth I use a few layers of cotton on a sieve. I don't think paper towels are particularly dangerous or a health hazard but it was not meant to be used to filter food or beverage and food items.

I'm a plant-rights activist... I only eat meat!

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I don't understand why you would use paper towels instead of coffee filters, or a sieve and cheesecloth if you wanted the process to be faster. Not that I think paper towels are likely to harm you, I just don't think they'd be very good at filtering. As far as chemicals used to manufacture and bleach them, I suspect they're no worse than the chemicals used to manufacture and bleach coffee filters.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Judy Rodgers mentions using clean cloth napkins to filter stock and other liquids. I tried that technique and had good results. I imagine a t-shirt, or even a clean handkerchief, would work as well.

FWIW, I don't use laundry detergents with dyes or fragrance.

However, a coffee filter seems like a good idea for some liquids - others, those that are thicker or filled with solids, seem to clog the coffee filter, and a cloth works better since it can be squeezed to force the liquid through.

 ... Shel


 

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Sometime ago, I did get a chance to visit a paper pulp manufacturer in Alabama, it was a huge operation. They grow their own trees.

I can tell you, for me, the chemicals they use, the machinery, the facility, the workers ----- , far from being food-grade.

I seem to remember, paper making is THE one industry which uses more water than any other industries.

dcarch

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Bounty makes no statement to imply that it would be unsafe to use paper towels as a filter:

Q: Can I use a Bounty paper towel as a coffee filter?

A: We haven't designed or tested Bounty for use as a coffee filter. The thickness and absorbency of Bounty are very different from that of coffee-filter paper.

If the product weren't safe for food contact, I'm sure they'd say something.

I agree with an earlier poster that that is optimistic. Did you notice that the response did not answer the question? My translation of the response is "use at your own risk".

Dick in Northbrook, IL

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi, sorry for not replying before!

I actually got many more replies than expected, so thank you all for your contributions.

At the end I decided to stop using kitchen paper as filter just to be on the cautious side...

However I would like to continue to use disposable filters as possible, as washing the filter every time can be a bit of a hassle...

The main use would be inside of a "china cap strainer". Are you aware of any use-once "filters" that can be brought in the UK and that are big enough to be used inside of strainers?

Thanks again for all your replies! :)

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Judy Rodgers mentions using clean cloth napkins to filter stock and other liquids. I tried that technique and had good results. I imagine a t-shirt, or even a clean handkerchief, would work as well.

FWIW, I don't use laundry detergents with dyes or fragrance.

However, a coffee filter seems like a good idea for some liquids - others, those that are thicker or filled with solids, seem to clog the coffee filter, and a cloth works better since it can be squeezed to force the liquid through.

I agree, all these things should work just fine. I've never really thought about using paper towels, and it doesn't make much sense to me when we have all of these other options.

"...which usually means underflavored, undersalted modern French cooking hidden under edible flowers and Mexican fruits."

- Jeffrey Steingarten, in reference to "California Cuisine".

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