Molcajete - real or not?

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Joined Jul 26, 2021
https://www.amazon.co.uk/product-re...show_all_btm?ie=UTF8&reviewerType=all_reviews



My girlfriend bought me this molcajete from Tumia LAC and I’m getting paranoid that it might be a fake. Having Googled ‘how to tell if my molcajete is a fake’ has left me even more confused/concerned. So I’m going to put several things below which I’d appreciate if you could evaluate:
  • I’ve been trying the grind with rice and water method and I’m still getting specks of grit with in the rice paste. This could be owing to my technique, however, as it’s probably because one has the natural tendency to grind the base of the bowl rather than the sides, so the sides might still need some work.
  • Read about a ‘put vinegar in molcajete and if it bubbles it’s concrete because the vinegar is reacting with the chemicals in the concrete’ or something. Did this test – no bubbles.
  • ‘Burnt hair’ smell with a dry grind.
  • Read about a ‘put water at bottom, see if it disappears’ test or something. Did this test - it did stay but I think this doesn’t say anything about whether this is concrete or not, as different basalt has different levels of porousness.
  • I haven’t detected a light sulfuric scent but I don’t have the greatest sense of smell, so…
  • Underside of bowl is quite uneven I think, while the bowl’s rims are very consistently geometrically sound.
  • It’s heavy and dense, weighs 3.5 kg (21cm molcajete)
  • Continuous mass of rock (legs not attached separately)
  • The yellow on one of the feet is new as of a few days ago I think - water from being washed reacting with something?
I’ve heard volcanic rock’s cooling time might help determine its authenticity. Any thoughts of doing an oven test? I.e. heat it up, see how long it takes to cool.

Any tests regarding drying/colour of rock when wet/dry?

Let me know what you think. And if it is indeed not 100% basalt, is it ‘dangerous’ to use, as I've heard some claim?

Photos attached

Many thanks in advance!
 

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1,335
855
Joined Mar 1, 2017
You may be overthinking this a bit. While a traditional molcajete is made from hard volcanic stone, that definition can include a large variety of stone, including volcanic stone that's not ideal for this sort of use.

While I don't believe that your molcajete is necessarily fake, it may be intended as a decorative piece, perhaps?

One way to figure out if its fake is dry it out, press the mano into the base and give it a few good, hard grinds. Smell the base and the mano. If they smell like cement or wet masonry mortar, then its probably fake.

Otherwise, keep curing it with salt and rice. The process takes a bit of patience and will naturally result in some grit as the mortar smooths out. Keep at it until there's no more grit. It could take a while.

Good luck. :)
 
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Joined Jul 26, 2021
Thanks for your great reply :) what do you make of any notion that it might be dangerous if indeed it isn't 100% volcanic rock? I mean, if it's not basalt it's not the end of the world, it would still serve as a good pestle and mortar, right? It's not like it can't grind anything, it feels great to use. But yes, I'll persist with the rice and water grinding.
 
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Joined Jul 26, 2021
Thanks for your great reply :) what do you make of any notion that it might be dangerous if indeed it isn't 100% volcanic rock? I mean, if it's not basalt it's not the end of the world, it would still serve as a good pestle and mortar, right? It's not like it can't grind anything, it feels great to use. But yes, I'll persist with the rice and water grinding.
Oh, and if it doesn't smell like cement after grinding like you mentioned what should it smell like?
 

phatch

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I've always enjoyed these kinds of videos, even if a touch juvenile.


ii thought it genius to match the radius of the bowl to the disk of the grinder.

Even if you never get it grind satisfactorily, as stone you can devote it to the dish molcajete, where you heat the mortar and fill it with heated salsa, cheese, meats, veggies and eat.

 
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1,335
855
Joined Mar 1, 2017
Oh, and if it doesn't smell like cement after grinding like you mentioned what should it smell like?
As long as it doesn't smell like wet mortar or cement, you're pretty much safe.

If its not volcanic rock, that doesn't mean its dangerous. Mortar and pestles cab be made from a variety of thing that range from olive wood to granite. While I don't recommend eating the grit that comes off your molcajete, if you do happen to eat some, its not going to harm you.

Cheers! :)
 
6
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Joined Jul 26, 2021
As long as it doesn't smell like wet mortar or cement, you're pretty much safe.

If its not volcanic rock, that doesn't mean its dangerous. Mortar and pestles cab be made from a variety of thing that range from olive wood to granite. While I don't recommend eating the grit that comes off your molcajete, if you do happen to eat some, its not going to harm you.

Cheers! :)
Sorry to nag, but I've done it and it smells like burnt hair, very distinctive smell, I can't recall smelling this anywhere asides from actual burnt hair. Thoughts?
 
1,335
855
Joined Mar 1, 2017
Never heard it described quite like that. :lol: But, I think what you're smelling are the natural mineral compounds of the rock released from the grinding. From the picture you provided above, the molcajete appears to be made of volcanic rock. So, I think you're safe.

Compare your molcajete to the picture Phatch posted above. They are quite similar in appearance. Just keep grinding until the interior is smooth.

Cheers!
 

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