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Aug 30, 2006 02:38 PM

Is Purple Heart wood poisonous?

My husband and I have been doing an extensive renovation on our house. We came into some oak and purple heart and are interested in turning it into a cutting board, but is purple heart poisonous? We would rather not spend a lot of time and effort making something that is just going to make us ill! ;-)

Thanks so much!

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  1. I've never heard of it being poisonous. Were you thinking of mixing the oak with the purple heart wood....I bet that would make a nice looking cutting board.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Infomaniac

      We are thinking of doing a line of oak and then a line of purplewood and then a line of oak, etc. I think it will be great, when we get around to that piece, or at least I hope so!

    2. I'd be more concerned with the seams between the oak and purple heart than Toxicity. Since the woods have different hardness and densities, they will expand and contract differently under changes in temperature and humidity.
      You may want to do all purple heart, I've never heard of it being toxic, and it is very dense and resists scoring.

      1. Purple heart and oak are often used in combination in making cutting boards.

        1. No, it is not poisonous. I have a 50-lb. antique French marble mortar that was missing a pestle. I took the mortar and several photographs of antique pestles to an excellent wood turner. We went through various woods and his recommendation was purple heart/amaranth. He made the most beautful pestle that fit perfectly in the bowl of the mortar and my hand! I watched him craft the pestle and it was amazing. As is the resulting pestle. Just gorgeous.After a batch of aioli it do clean it with soap and water and immediately dry it. Periodically is gets an rubbing of mineral oil. This is gorgeous wood.

          1. Purpleheart wood is a sensitizer mainly affecting the eyes and skin. It can cause nausea mainly from the wood or dust. As a sensitizer it may have a latency period of hours or months and may require repeated handling before reaction occurs.

            1 Reply
            1. re: kabooom

              as a reaction, it's very similar to poison ivy -- some folks get it, some don't -- some worse than others. If I'm only working with it for a few hours, it's no big deal, but I have to wear form-fitting nitrile gloves if I'm going to be cutting/sawing purpleheart (or any of the tropical hardwoods) for any length of time. Itchy and uncomfortable.

              While it's stunningly beautiful while the wood retains its purple hue, it probably isn't really a very good choice as a cutting board.

              It will also eventually fade to brown, no matter what you do to try to avoid it.