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MORTAR AND PESTLE - Question on base material

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Hi guys/girls,

My girlfriend just returned from Cambodia with a large mortar and pestle which she was told was sandstone. To me it doesn't look like sandstone at all - if anything it looks like basalt - having read a few forum posts regarding knock-off "stone" mortar and pestles which are actually made using crushed rock and cement I started to get concerned.

To my knowledge these cement-based mortar and pestles can not (and should not) be used in cooking, does anyone know any more on this topic? I've attached a few images of the mortar and pestle in question - to me it looks like it is stone (based on the scoring marks all over it), but it has a cement-ish smell to it and the exterior has been coated with some kind of lacquer.

I really want to use it (and my girlfriend would be devastated she carted the seriously heavy thing all the way from Cambodia for nothing) but am fearful that it is in-fact a knock-off.

Any comments/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers.

Links to images below:
http://img682.imageshack.us/img682/20...
http://img42.imageshack.us/img42/7857...
http://img413.imageshack.us/img413/78...
http://img812.imageshack.us/img812/25...
http://img9.imageshack.us/img9/6407/m...

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  1. The lines on the bottom look like it was sawed - not impossible to replicate with cement, but who would bother? The smell could just be from the sealant and the varnish or whatever was used to created the pattern. I would try it - see if anything got in the mix that shouldn't - even from the sealant.

    1. It looks legit enough. Just make sure to break it in — you should do this for any stone mortar and pestle. Uncooked white rice works best for this, since you can see what gets picked up (as applehome suggested). Keep grinding until the rice stays white.