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Walnut toxicity fact and fiction

      Is walnut safe for salad bowls? Horse bedding? June 21, 2000

I'm sawing up some walnut slabs for a wood turner and he asked if there were any problems with toxicity of the walnut if they were made into salad bowls, i.e., are they safe for holding consumable foods. I thought people turned food bowls from walnut all the time, but I'm not real sure. I told him to use a food-safe finish for sure.

Walnut has been used for bowls since the time of the early European settlers. I have never read anything indicating that the wood is unsafe.

Our salad bowls (given to me by my sister for a wedding present) are walnut -- maybe this explains why I am getting a higher forehead, thinner hair, and forgetting where I last put my car keys? Or maybe my dear sister was getting back at me for all the @#!&# things I did to her when I was younger.

Of course, walnut sawdust is an herbicide, so never put walnut sawdust on your garden if you want your tomato plants to survive.
Gene Wengert, forum moderator

I believe black walnut is toxic to horses. Maybe that is where the concern stems from.

Some folks, like myself, are highly allergic to walnuts themselves, but I do not believe this carries over to eating food served in the wood.

I have never experienced the choking-to-death sensation from such food that the nuts impart.

As a retired veterinarian, I can shed some light on walnut's toxicity to horses. The reported case was where walnut sawdust was used as bedding. I don't remember if the effect was contact dermatitis or systemic.

My horse used to eat the foliage from live trees on occasion with no problem.

I can shed some light on the issue.

Walnut wood is safe to eat out of for humans. The horse issue is real; the horse can absorb the toxic chemicals in walnut wood chips or dust through their hooves, which can cause illness or even death, so don't use walnut chips or sawdust in a horse's stall!

I recently had some walnut cut at a mill in PA. The mill owner said that he can't sell his dust for animal bedding if it is contaminated with walnut dust. He's been on the job since 1942 and is now 83 years old, so if anyone knows, he does!

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