Is there a foodsafe wood glue?
April 1, 2010 9:59 PM   Subscribe

Is there a wood glue that can take occasional immersion in boiling water and is foodsafe?

I'm currently WWOOFing with a lovely couple on a goat farm, and as a present I've made them a cheese mold out of wood they harvested on the property to replace a plastic one they currently use. I didn't discuss construction methods with them, but blithely went ahead and hand-cut dovetails on it. The husband is balking at the idea of glueing it together, because of uneasiness about the food safety of wood glue for cheesemaking. Cursory investigation seems to say that epoxy would work for this application, but I can't prove it. Is there a glue that will satisfy his worries, and can you point me to information that proves it?
posted by lhputtgrass to Food & Drink (7 answers total)
I don't know what glue would work. But, I don't think epoxy is what you want.

Epoxy is very, very brittle. While it's strong, and it bonds strongly, it will break right off of anything that can flex or bend. It also has a very high coefficient of thermal expansion. It will survive the boiling, insofar as it probably won't melt. But it will expand, while the wood won't, and it will separate eventually. Likewise, when the wood expands from soaking in water, it may pop off.

And, as an aside, I'm wondering why you would replace an easily sterilizable, nonporous plastic implement with a highly porous, nigh-uncleanable wooden one. Especially for a live-cultured food like cheese.
posted by Netzapper at 10:23 PM on April 1, 2010

Titebond III wood glue.
FDA approved for indirect food contact.
Tolerates ANSI/HPVA Type I testing (which involves 8 hours of boiling).
I am not a cheesemaker or cheesemaker's wife, but I am a cheese eater.
posted by the Real Dan at 10:41 PM on April 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Can you add pegs to your dovetails so they're self-holding? Gluelessly, that is.
posted by anadem at 10:42 PM on April 1, 2010

Response by poster: I would certainly be game for Titebond III, but given his unease about glue generally, I think I will pin the dovetails as anadem suggests. It hadn't occurred to me when I wrote the question, but the more I considered it, the better an option it seemed.

As for the why of it, they had harvested some cyprus wood on the property, and the husband was quite curious as to how the wood would do. If it proves itself unsuitable, I'm sure he'll go back to the plastic, but the wood will certainly look nicer; whether or not it holds up to use is another question entirely.
posted by lhputtgrass at 11:58 PM on April 1, 2010

Go with pinning dovetails. It'll be more secure than you think. Is it possible to line the inside of the cheese mold with plastic wrap, without the use of wood glue? Coming from the artist mold-making background, a thin layer of plastic wrap would ensure that there would be no contact with glue, wood, or cheese, should you end up going the glue route. I highly suggest the pinning dovetails route, as well as plastic wrap.

Good luck in your cheese-mongering!
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 8:28 AM on April 2, 2010

Well it looks like the Real Dan has found your answer, and if that doesn't take care of the glue-in-your food worries, than nothing will. The FDA and ANSI know what they are doing. I would not hesitate to use the Titebond III, unless you boil the glue for more than 8 hours...
posted by kenbennedy at 11:32 AM on April 2, 2010

crap.... *then* nothing will...
posted by kenbennedy at 11:32 AM on April 2, 2010

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